Richard H. Ellis sculpture to be preserved and displayed by Forest Lawn

Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach is donating a bronze sculpture group by Richard H. Ellis to Forest Lawn. The sculpture is an important part of Southern California’s artistic legacy but was slated to be removed as part of an ongoing renovation of F&M Bank’s Lakewood branch. Forest Lawn will preserve and display the artwork—a family group consisting of two parents, a dog, and two children—which was completed in 1977 by Richard H. Ellis. A prominent sculptor and twice winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome Fellowship, Ellis has carried out dozens of commissions, including portrait busts and over-life-sized figures for major patrons and a variety of public sites.

The statue was commissioned for the plaza in front of the Lakewood building, which was originally a branch of Home Savings of America, a company founded by Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr. Beginning in the 1950s Ahmanson commissioned Millard Sheets—an icon of the mid-century Southern California art world—to design Home Savings Bank branches throughout the region, which often featured statuary and large mosaics. Ellis created sculptures for several of these locations, and he worked on numerous other projects with Sheets from the late 1960s through the 1980s. In recent years art from many of these locations has been threatened. In 2019 Tony Sheets, Millard’s son, and Rosa Lowinger & Associates, project conservator, referred F&M Bank to art advisor Xiliary Twil of Art Asset Management Group, Beverly Hills, to help save the artwork. Twil reached out to Forest Lawn and facilitated the donation.

“As part of the building renovation for Farmers & Merchants’ Lakewood branch, it was important to us that we preserve the cultural and artistic heritage of these pieces.” said Daniel K. Walker, CEO of Farmers & Merchants Bank. “Forest Lawn has a rich history of displaying and preserving sculpture, and we are delighted to contribute a piece of history to their collection for generations to enjoy.”

Both F&M Bank and Forest Lawn are excited that this sculpture group will find new life. “We are thrilled to add this piece of Los Angeles history to Forest Lawn’s permanent collection, and we look forward to preserving the work and sharing it with Southern California,” said James Fishburne, PhD, Forest Lawn Museum Director. Forest Lawn is a fitting home for the art, as the institution has been collecting and commissioning figurative sculpture since the early twentieth century, with hundreds of bronze and marble statues currently on display at its six memorial parks located throughout Southern California. Coincidentally, Forest Lawn—Glendale is the final resting place of Howard Ahmanson, Sr., and the addition of Ellis’s work is a fitting tribute to the visionary patron who helped shape public art in throughout the region.

After removal, an art restoration team will repair a minor break in the arm of one of the figures. The entire group will then be cleaned and resurfaced to prevent corrosion and counteract uneven weathering. Forest Lawn has not yet settled on a final site at which to display the sculpture.

About Forest Lawn Memorial–Parks & Mortuaries

For more than a century, Forest Lawn has been an integral part of Southern California. Since its founding, Forest Lawn has committed itself to providing outstanding service and beautiful environments for family outings, remembering loved ones and commemorating holidays. Forest Lawn’s locations in the Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties serve all faiths and cultures, and offer a wide range of celebrations and special events with competitively priced cremation and traditional funeral services throughout Southern California. Glendale – FD 656

About Forest Lawn–Glendale

Founded in 1906, Forest Lawn has been a Southern California landmark for more than a century. With rolling hills, sweeping landscapes and a magnificent view of the Los Angeles skyline, Forest Lawn–Glendale is one of Forest Lawn’s most picturesque locations.  It features a world-renowned art museum, extraordinary statuary and the Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection, home to Jan Styka’s immense painting, The Crucifixion, and Robert Clark’s Resurrection, two of the largest religious paintings in the western hemisphere. Glendale – FD 656