Welcome to 2012, and a Reinvigorated Blog!

Denis O'Connor and Sue Hertel, mosaic, Savings of America, Springfield, Missouri, 1986. Note the goof at installation that reversed the SH of Sue's signature at bottom right.

Denis O’Connor and Sue Hertel, mosaic, Savings of America, Springfield, Missouri, 1986. Note the goof at installation that reversed the SH of Sue’s signature at bottom right.


After a semester on other projects, I am proud to announce that I am a Haynes Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library this semester, so I am working full-time on the history and preservation of the art and artwork of the Home Savings and Loan buildings.

My plan is to complete research in the papers of Millard Sheets and Denis O’Connor, and to track down more interview subjects and other paper collections to help me complete the research. By fall, I will be writing, and hopefully we can see a beautiful book, with lots of color images of this remarkable artwork, appear in late 2013/early 2014. So any tips, leads, and memories are always welcomed!

In the “radio-silent” period, I have been to Home Savings locations in the Bay Area and around Los Angeles, to Savings of America locations in Missouri, and to all the presentations I mentioned in my last post. Also, thanks to a Jonathan Heritage Foundation fellowship at the Autry National Center over the summer, I have determined more about where the “Home Savings style” drew from, in the decoration and marketing of other Los Angeles banks in the early twentieth century, especially Security Trust and Savings (later Security First, later Security Pacific). More about all that soon.

I also am proud to announce one new publication and two more great events to put on your calendar:

This month, look for a (cover?) story — by me — in Huntington Frontiers, the magazine of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, about the Home Savings and Loan artwork and the collections I am using.

Sunday, March 18,Millard Sheets: A Legacy of Art and Architecture” in Pomona and Claremont, organized by the L.A. Conservancy’s Modernism Committee.

Sunday, May 6, a panel discussion (with me and noted architectural historian Alan Hess) at the gallery exhibition of Home Savings locations, organized by Cal State Fullerton students Concepción Rodriguez and Wendy Sherman, at the Grand Central Art Center.

I will now resume posting weekly. Next up: all the great Pacific Standard Time exhibits that show the circle of mutual influence around the Sheets Studio and the Home Savings work. Details to come, but if you want to get ahead, the key exhibits are The House That Sam Built at the Huntington Library; Common Ground at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA — which has a spectacular Sheets and Hertel painting in its new location, a former Pomona First Federal); and California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way” at LACMA.

Happy 2012! I look forward to reinvigorating the conversation.

Posted in Home Savings and Millard Sheets, Image of the Week.


  1. Hello Adam, I want to express my thanks for the enormous amount of effort you’ve put into researching this subject. I am currently transitioning from a corporate job to doing large-scale mosaic work, which has been a passion of mine for several years. I became very interested in the Home Savings buildings when Kirstin Green, an artist I’m apprenticing with, pointed out the ferry mural on what is now a Petco in Coronado. It’s really great to see that so many people are interested in preserving these beautiful murals, -it gives me a lot of hope for my own future in the business. I am putting together an informal presentation on the subject in a Museum Studies class I’m taking right now, and the information you’ve put together has been very helpful. In my own small way I hope to expand awareness of this outstanding art. Thanks again.

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