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Work Crews Prepare to Remove 50-Year-Old Santa Monica Mosaic
By Jorge Casuso
June 17, 2019 -- Work crews on Monday began preparing to dismantle a 50-year-old mosaic that for generations of Santa Monicans has captured the essence of their beach city.
Scaffolding began going up along the glass and ceramic mosaic "Pleasures Along the Beach" created for the old Home Savings building at 2600 Wilshire Boulevard by renown California artist Millard Sheets.
Permits for the mural's removal and relocation to a museum in Orange County were issued last week under a settlement agreement with the building's owner, City officials said.
"This work will be visible to the public," City spokesperson Constance Farrell said of the removal.
"We want the community to know it is being overseen by a leading art conservator secured by the property owner."
It will take between two and two and a half months to remove the mural, said Xiliary Twil of Art Asset Management Group, Inc., the firm in charge of the project ("Iconic Santa Monica Mural Finds New Home in Orange County," June 5, 2019).
This week, work crews for contractor Brian Worley Art & Restoration will erect the scafolding across the 40 foot by 16-and-a-half foot mural and prepare for its removal.
The firm's owner, Brian Worley, originally worked on fabricating the mosaic, Twil said.
Then, a team of expert conservators from Rosa Lowinger Associates will glue a mesh to the surface of the mural. They will then mark off different sections of the mosaic and number each one, Twil said.
"We're hoping to get them off in fairly large sections," she said.
Lowinger's team previously conducted tests on three parts of the mosaic and found the artwork was embedded in different types of materials, Twil said.
"The conservator knows what is behind there," she said.
After each numbered section is cut and removed, it will be placed inside a crate with the corresponding number.
The crates will be shipped to the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University in the City of Orange, where it will be reassembled.
"It's like putting together a puzzle," Twil said. "It is a hugely expensive undertaking."
Twil estimates it will cost property owner Mark Leevan approximately $500,000 to remove the mural.
Reassembling it "will be a lot easier and cost a lot less," Twil said.
The mural will be moved along with the accompanying stained-glass and bronze sculptures created for the site.
Under the settlement agreement approved by the City Council in September, the City revoked the building and artworks' historic designation, blocked any new application for five years and paid Leevan $250,000 in damages ("Iconic Santa Monica Mosaic Could Be Removed Under Legal Settlement," September 5, 2018).
Leevan offered to donate it to the City or a nonprofit organization, but the City rejected the offer ("SPECIAL REPORT -- How Santa Monica Lost Its Iconic Half-Century Old Mosaic," June 7, 2019).
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