It was in September of 1862 when 15-year-old John Alexander Parker enlisted in the 18th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army. Although the minimum age requirement for enlisting was 18, it wasn’t unusual for younger boys to join. Often referenced as “The Boys’ War,” the Civil War provided a variety of positions for male youths. For John Alexander Parker, his role in the war was rooted in song: he was charged with carrying the Regiment’s drum.
January is the time of year that many of us consider new beginnings and fresh starts. Many of us resolve to be more conscientious about our diets, exercise more frequently, and to be more mindful and compassionate in our interactions with others. It is in this spirit of renewal that we feature the recent rebirth through conservation of two Buddhist statues. Purchased by our clients at auction in 2001 the statues, not unlike all sentient beings, had suffered with the passage of time.
Bill Lear is a staple at The Conservation Center. Not only have we collaborated on maintaining his extensive collection, his is an active member of our Advisory Board. Over the years we have come to know that there is always an incredible story with Bill's projects. Past projects have ranged from conserving Army discharge papers from the 1800's to fabricating a display for his commemorative Tibetan yak bell acquired during his summit of Mount Everest. So when he arrived at The Center with two signed Shepard Fairey pieces to be framed, we knew we had to ask.
Recently, while on a visit to her mother’s house, a client of The Conservation Center rediscovered a photograph that she remembered as a constant fixture in her childhood home. She found the photographic portrait, which had hung in her family dining room, in a box alongside an old marriage certificate. Treasuring her memories of the photograph, and wanting the pieces to last for generations to come, our client entrusted The Center with the conservation of the two pieces, and decided to learn more about the items.
One thing that makes The Center unique is our ability to have several departments collaborate to deliver superior results and develop innovative treatments. Recently, a wall clock came to us for treatment that afforded such an opportunity. Upon arrival, it was noted that the frame of the clock was composed of wood, compo, gesso, metal leaf, brown bole, and toner. The clock's glass was broken, and there were nails missing from the decorative brass edging around the glass.
November was an exciting month for the city of Chicago, as Cubs fans celebrated the team’s first World Series victory since 1908. Dedicated fans have waited decades, and families loyal to the team have waited generations to see the Cubs crowned World Series champions. Through all of the ups and downs, fans have stuck by the team, collecting memorabilia every step of the way. It comes as no surprise, then, that over the years The Conservation Center has seen a number of Cubs-related works come through the doors for treatment.
The Conservation Center recently worked with Rush University Medical Center's archivist Nathalie Wheaton to unveil the contents of several time capsules recovered on Rush's campus during an excavation in August.
The time capsules dated back more than a century, and were recovered from the cornerstones of Presbyterian Hospital's Daniel A. Jones Memorial Building, Rush Medical College's Senn Hall, and Rawson Laboratory. Materials inside the capsules ranged from the 1800s to 1924, and The Center worked with Rush to remove and document the contents inside two of the three recovered capsules.
A long time client of The Center, Greg knew just where to bring this 1896 lithograph when he received it from his uncle. And as with most every piece that Greg brings in for conservation, this print has an interesting story to tell about both his family’s history, and the history of the Midwest. A relic from the Civil War, The Easel Monument lithograph tells the story of brothers in arms, an effort to immortalize their bond, and of course, some necessary conservation to preserve it for the future.
While The Center is always excited to work on challenging contemporary projects in which new media and methods are used, we still enjoy the oldies and goodies. Recently our Senior Paintings Conservator, Amber Schabdach conserved L’adorazione dei magi, an oil on panel piece circa 1600. L’adorazione dei magi, or The Adoration of the Magi, was brought to The Center to address handling damage.
Celebrated artist Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955) has a signature style born from his experiences as an African American growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. For over thirty years, Marshall has created artwork using portraiture that explores the historical artistic representation of African Americans through a wide range of techniques and styles. After earning his B.F.A. in 1978 from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Marshall settled in Chicago, where now decades later the Museum of Contemporary Art is exhibiting a major retrospective of his work. At this year’s EXPO CHICAGO, The Conservation Center is proud to be featuring the treatment of Kerry James Marshall’s Cleanliness is Next to Godliness in our educational Booth 143.