Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California
Expansively researched and illustrated, this lively history recounts how the extraordinary partnership of financier Howard Ahmanson and artist Millard Sheets produced outstanding mid-century modern architecture and art for Home Savings and Loan and other commercial clients.
“Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of 'every man modernism' that was largely unknown and under-appreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value and the impact of individual grassroots efforts.” - 2018 DOCOMOMO US Modernism in America Awards, Citation of Merit
“Banking on Beauty invites readers to remember a time when our captains of industry cared about public spaces as much as they did the bottom line — and it also challenges us to preserve those remaining buildings that possess Sheets originals." - Gustavo Arellano, "Three Worthy Books for the California Reader," Los Angeles Times
"Once upon a time, a visit to a department store or a branch bank was a chance to be inspired by fine art. Architects incorporated custom paintings, sculpture, and stained glass into these common buildings in an era of popular luxury....Local history was a favorite subject for enormous mosaic installations on prominent corners throughout the state....This richly illustrated book finally tells their story." - Chris Nichols, "The Best Books about LA in 2018," Los Angeles Magazine
"A lavish history." - David Allen, Year in Reading, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Read more than one hundred blog posts about my research in creating this book.