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David Stary-Sheets; Furniture Designer, Art Dealer

David Stary-Sheets, 60, former creator of custom furniture who became an art dealer and expert on the California Regionalist movement. The son of premier Southern California realist painter Millard Sheets, he had operated Stary-Sheets Fine Art Gallery with his wife, Susan, for the last decade. First in Irvine and since 1996 in Laguna Beach, the gallery focused on his custom furniture and on work by the California Regionalist or California Style artists who worked largely in watercolors in the 1920s through ‘40s. Stary-Sheets became a prominent figure in the arts community--lecturing, writing widely and acting as curator for exhibits on the Realist painters. The couple lent paintings from their own collection to boost new museums such as the Irvine Fine Arts Center in 1993 and in 1997-98 were curators of “California Style: 1930s and ‘40s.” That exhibit, organized for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, was also displayed at the Orange County Museum of Art and the Ventura County Museum of History and Art. Born in Claremont, David Sheets was educated at the Webb School, Claremont Men’s College, Chaffey College and San Diego State. He worked briefly as a loan officer and built custom homes before turning to designing and building furniture. In the 1970s he co-founded a furniture company, Woodworks Builds Dynamite Furniture, based in Ontario, Calif. Sheets hyphenated his surname after marrying Susan Stary in 1980. The couple, who started an art gallery when they lived in Northern California, were active in several arts and cultural groups in Orange County. Among those was Stop-Gap, a theatrical company dealing with social problems. Stary-Sheets was a co-founder of the Fine Art Dealers Assn. and served as president of the national group from 1994 to 1996. On May 31 in Irvine.


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