Millard Owen Sheets Biography

Millard Owen Sheets




Millard Owen Sheets, painter, printmaker, muralist, teacher, world traveler, architectural designer, and collector, was born on 17 June 1907 in Pomona, California. His maternal grandparents and his aunts raised him after the tragic death of his mother during childbirth. His grandfather, Lewis Owen, bred and raced horses and instilled in his grandson a passion for the animal. After graduating from Pomona High School, Sheets studied at the Chouinard Art Institute between 1925 and 1929 where he was a pupil of Frank Tolles Chamberlin and Clarence Hinkle.

After graduating from Chouinard in 1929, Sheets had his first solo exhibition at the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles and won second place in the annual Edgar B. Davis competition in San Antonio. He garnered $1,750. in prize money which allowed him to travel to New York and Paris. While in Paris, Sheets worked at the lithographic workshop of M. Gaston Dorfinant.

Sheets taught at Chouinard between 1928 and 1935 and, in 1931 he was appointed Professor of Art at Scripps College. The following year he became Head of the Art Department at Scripps and served in the capacity until 1955 when he became the Director of the Otis Art Institute.

Sheets was the director of exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Fair from 1931 to 1959. He served as a war artist for Life magazine, covering the Burma-India front from 1943 to 1944. Upon his return to California, he executed mosaic murals throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Sheets created the architectural design for many buildings, produced illustrations for national magazines, and handled production design for Columbia Pictures. Sheets saw his work as a synthesis of Cubism and Impressionism. He traveled throughout Europe, Central America, Mexico, the United States, the Pacific and the Orient, but continued to live permanently at his estate, Barking Rocks, along the northern California coast in Gualala.

He was a member of the Laguna Beach Art Association, the California Watercolor Society, the California Art Club, the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors, and the Bohemian Club. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1944 and elevated to full Academician in 1947. His work is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; the Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California; the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; the Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Millard Owen Sheets died in Gualala on March 31, 1989.