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Civic Art      
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County Collection

Burton W. Chace Park

The Helmsman

Artist:
Carlo Romanelli
Date:
ca. 1931-39
Region:
South Bay
District:
Fourth
Location:
Burton W. Chace Park
13650 Mindanao Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Department:
Beaches & Harbors

Click for larger photos

Project Description

For many years, The Helmsman statue was the trademark for the famous Helms Bakery on Venice Boulevard in Culver City.  The Helms Bakery, which began its business in 1931, rose to fame as the “official baker” for Los Angeles’ 1932 Olympic Games and later, in 1969, the bakery supplied bread to the Apollo 11 space mission and became the “first bread on the moon.”

The Helmsman proudly stood guard in front of the bakery’s headquarters during its years of operation. It symbolized the bakery’s hundreds of truck drivers who delivered fresh bread, rolls, and pastries street by street to the entire Los Angeles region for nearly forty years.

The Helms Bakery shut its doors in 1969.  In 1971, The Helmsman was donated to Los Angeles County by the Helms family.  It is now located in Burton W. Chace Park, overlooking the Marina Del Rey Harbor.

The Helmsman is an approximately 10’ h painted cast concrete figure in staunch repose with both hands clenched on a wooden helm. His posture is tight, his body hunched over, and his expression determined. Although formerly the symbol of the unfaltering delivery service of the Helms Bakery, The Helmsman fits perfectly in this maritime environment.

 

About the Artist

Carlo Romanelli was a Los Angeles sculptor in the first half of the 20th Century. His works can be seen at St. Michael's Church, Los Angeles; St. Vincent de Paul, Los Angeles; and Temple Shaarei Tikvah, Arcadia.

His son, Carl Romanelli, also a sculptor, created the Joseph Scott statue, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, as well as a likeness of Elvis Presley which resides outside the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel.