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No More "Pleasures Along the Beach" in Santa Monica

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

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By Jorge Casuso

August 8, 2019 -- On Friday, the wall above the old bank building entrance that held Santa Monica's iconic "Pleasures Along the Beach" mosaic for 50 years will be blank.

Work crews will have removed the final fragment of the mural by renown California artist Millard Sheets and crated it for shipping to an Orange County museum, according to the firm in charge of the project.

Each small jagged piece of the disassembled 40-foot by 16-foot glass and ceramic jigsaw puzzle will have been carefully numbered and cataloged for reassembly.

Work crews remove final fragments of the mural (Courtesy Art Asset Management Group, Inc.)

Next week, the wall on the corner of 26th Street and Wilshire Boulevard will be plastered and painted with "a pigment that blends into the building," said Xiliary Twil of Art Asset Management Group, Inc.

Then the work crews -- who removed the accompanying bronze sculptures last week -- will take down the scaffolding, completing the work that began on June 17 ("Work Crews Prepare to Remove 50-Year-Old Santa Monica Mosaic," June 17, 2019).

"It's going very well," Twil said. "We're ahead of schedule. The work crews have done a great job."

Throughout the removal, which required cutting out the pieces of the mosaic with the concrete backing attached, curious passsersby have stopped to watch and ask questions.

Workers remove Sheets mural Labled fragments of the mural
Workers remove mural fragments covered with mesh surface. (r) Labled fragments of the mosaic (Courtesy Art Asset Management Group, Inc.)

Some were upset when they learned that the mural, which for generations of Santa Monicans has captured the essence of the city's beach culture, would be gone.

"I ran into somebody one day who was very unhappy," Twil said. People "would have liked (the art works) to remain in Santa Monica. They were dismayed the City did not elect to take them."

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Still, Twil said, many were pleased to learn the works would be reinstalled on the outside of a building that can be seen from the Metro stop in the City of Orange ("Iconic Santa Monica Mural Finds New Home in Orange County," June 5, 2019).

"They were happy to know they would be in an environment with an audience that could view them up close in person," she said.

The removal of the mural -- as well as the bronze sculptures and the large stained glass window that remains on the back wall of the building -- has been a reunion for some of the original artists and their descendants.

Tony Sheets, the artist's son, recommended the Hilbert Museum of California Art as a potential recipient after City officials, without the public's knowledge, decided not to accept the artwork ("SPECIAL REPORT -- How Santa Monica Lost Its Iconic Half-Century Old Mosaic," June 7, 2019).

"Pleasures Along the Beach" by Millard Sheets
"Pleasures Along the Beach" by Millard Sheets (Photo by Peter Leonard)

Brian Worley, the contractor whose company removed the mosaic, worked on its fabrication half a century ago.

And Dave Svenson, the son of the artist who created the sculpture of a child with dolphins, drove from Wrightwood, California with his wife and son "at the very beginning of dismantling," Twil said.

"He was tearing up," she said.

"I've enlisted everybody that was involved with this. It was a reunion of all these people coming together that participated."

The fragments of the mural will be shipped in six crates that weigh about one ton each, along with the sculptures. Then the mosaic will be reinstalled inside the museum 45 miles away by a team of expert conservators from Rosa Lowinger Associates.

The stained glass, which is nearly as large as the mosaic and has been concealed with a scrim inside the shoe store that occupies the old bank, will be installed in a building that will be constructed near the Hilbert Museum on the Chapman University campus, Twil said.

Mark Leevan, who owns the former Savings and Loan Building, has not decided what, if anything, will replace the mural on the wall it was created to occupy, Twil said.

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