David Kirkpatrick

February 4, 2008

Saving the Mercantile mosaics

Dallas’ Mercantile bank complex, with a tower from 1943 being one of the few skyscrapers erected during WWII, sat empty for a number of years and was purchased in the mid oughts for renovation and partial destruction — the demolition slated to befall later additions to the complex. At the eleventh hour, historical preservationists realized the area slated for demolition contained a large number of mosaics created by noted industrial designer Millard Sheets, fabricated in Venice and installed in the Mercantile in the late 1950s.

Two friends of mine — Michael van Enter of Studio van Enter and Wes Sorensen of Conservation Arts Group — won the bid to save these works of art. The project covered a few months in early 2006, and I helped in the process.

A number of groups joined forces to save the mosaics which are currently in storage awaiting reinstallation in Dallas at a later date.

(check out more information and some photos after the jump.)

Some of the key players in saving the mosaics include Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, Preservation Dallas, and invester and downtown developer, Tim Headington, who footed the bill for the removal and storage of the art.

Here’s me (on the right) and Shelly, a co-worker, in front of “Air,” one of the larger pieces.


Removing one of the pieces.


More process …


A view of Dallas that is no longer accessible because the building no longer exists. This a view looking east from the 22nd floor rooftop balcony off of R.L. Thornton’s (one time president of Mercantile Bank and I-30 namesake) private apartment in the building. The central road in the image is Commerce Street.


The crated artwork waiting on final removal.


Wes and Michael


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  1. slide show of project at

    Comment by Wes S. — February 4, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  2. Here is a link to above mentioned site: http://conservationartsgroup.com/Mercantile.aspx

    Comment by davidkirkpatrick — February 4, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  3. I think it is wonderful the mosaics were saved! Can’t wait to see them re-assembled and in their new locations. I added your blog entry to my blog at mosaicinfo.wordpress.com

    Comment by mosaicinfo — February 5, 2008 @ 9:17 am

  4. […] entire blog entry and see pics and other links to more on the process on saving the […]

    Pingback by Saving the Mercantile mosaics « Mosaic Art and Glass Art — February 5, 2008 @ 9:26 am

  5. […] Possible light blogging coming up Filed under: Arts, Media, et.al. — Tags: art conservation, blogging, dallas, historic preservation, Union Station — davidkirkpatrick @ 9:02 pm Along with professional writing I occasionally work in the fine art conservation and preservation area. I blogged about one very cool project here. […]

    Pingback by Possible light blogging coming up « David Kirkpatrick — August 21, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

  6. Glad to hear of some Sheets mosaics being saved! I am working to catalog all the know Sheets public artwork at http://adamarenson.wordpress.com/homesavingsbankart/

    Comment by adamarenson — January 15, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  7. […] laser ablation, laser surgery, tattoo removal — davidkirkpatrick @ 2:40 am As an occasional art conservator, I always find new developments in the field interesting. I don’t do painting restoration, […]

    Pingback by Art conservation and tattoo removal « David Kirkpatrick — February 25, 2010 @ 2:40 am

  8. […] finding a six-figure donation to pay for taking out the mosaics. You can read a bit about it here, but that will be a Texas-size effort to discuss another […]

    Pingback by Rounding Up Artwork in Houston, Texas | The Cultural Civil War — December 17, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  9. […] Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas, where Sheets, in fact, did one of his first banks, the Dallas Mercantile Bank, in […]

    Pingback by Remember the Alamo—or not: Sheets and Associates in San Antonio | The Cultural Civil War — February 18, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  10. […] thing to receive. Did Denis follow up? What was the cost — a few hundred, a few thousand, or tens of thousands of dollars? The mosaic, from 1988, and showing pelicans and dolphins, was not massive, but the effort to […]

    Pingback by Missing Home Savings Art: Mysteries in Santa Monica and Glendale | The Cultural Civil War — March 18, 2011 @ 10:27 am

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