Millard Owen Sheets (1907-1989)

Millard Owen Sheets (1907-1989)

When Millard Sheers was just 22 years old and a student at Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles, the artist was given his first one-man show at the city’s prestigious Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in 1929. By the time Sheets was thirty-two, just ten years later, Dalzell Hatfield hosted a ten-year retrospective. During that ten year period, the artist had been featured in 29 solo exhibitions, many in museums including the Corcoran Gallery, the San Franciso Museum of Art, and the High Museum of Art.  Of his debut exhibition in New York City in 1935, art critic and author Malcolm Vaughan summed up the praise of many critics:  “. . . this Westerner immediately proves himself worthy of a place among the peers of American water color painting. Our ablest master of the medium, Winslow Homer did not manifest at 28 years of age a higher talent . . . As a measure of his artistic integrity it may be pointed out that his work is thoroughly American. He is as wholly native as Homer or Hopper, and as wholly unaffected in his Americanism, as they.”

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Critic Vaughan’s assessment served as an accurate prediction of the young artist’s future. Over the next fifty years in the art world, over three thousand museums and collectors owned his work, including the top museums nationwide. He constructed over sixty murals all over the country, mostly in glass, mosaic and tile.  In the field of education, he was, to name a few, Director of Art at Scripps College from 1938-1954 and the Director, Fine Arts Exhibitions, Los Angeles County Fair from 1931-1956. He traveled the world and conducted art seminars in Ireland, Japan, Mexico and the South Seas, the location of the painting depicted here.  His lyrical, expressive work was known world-wide and he was one of the most respected modern realist artists of his time.

Vose Galleries hosted a dual exhibition of Karl Zerbe and Millard Sheets’ paintings in the spring of 1941, noting in the catalogue how “some ten years ago one began to hear news of interesting things being done in watercolor out west. The name that was most often heard was that of Millard Sheets.” 

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