At The Conservation Center, we are acutely aware that accidents happen, so that is why we offer our services at EXPO Chicago every year. Our team of art handlers and conservators prepare annually to assist in every way possible as hundreds of pieces of art are installed in Navy Pier over two short days. This year we assisted with a piece that suffered damage from international shipment. Somewhere along the way, the glass shattered and the paper piece underneath was in need of a quick rescue.
This month at The Conservation Center, we were inspired by the marvelous hues of autumn, as our hometown of Chicago is being swiftly engulfed by red, orange, and yellow leaves. So we decided to revive our Pigment of the Month segment. For the month of October, we chose a beautiful and historically fascinating yellow pigment- perfect for fall- with a very interesting story behind it.
In 2016, The Center had the pleasure of working on a personal piece for Kerry James Marshall titled Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness and we were very honored when the artist gave us the opportunity to work on another piece from his personal collection. “Ipso Facto” is a painting executed on two plywood panels joined together with batons and screws. The diptych is primed and painted with what appears to be moderately applied acrylic. Both panels depict a figure’s rear. The left panel is painted in white, with various colors playfully peeking through the brush strokes, and the other is painted in black surrounded by small white flowers with intimate red and green details. The piece is unvarnished and while unsigned, the painting is characteristic of Marshall’s work.
Tony Tasset, though born and raised in Cincinnati, has developed deep roots in Chicago and is a recognized artist in the Chicago art world. After Tasset moved to Chicago to earn his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986, he has been actively producing art for the city to enjoy. Chicago residents and tourists alike might remember some of his public sculptures, such as the giant, 30’ tall eyeball sculpture in the Loop, the colorful storage-container sculpture from Grant Park that was transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus where the artist now teaches, or the giant sculpture of a deer on the city’s newly-renovated Riverwalk showcased just last year.
Commonly referred to as “Mr. Chicago” by his friends, Ed Paschke is one of the Windy City’s most celebrated artists. Born and raised in Chicago, Paschke earned his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961, and after traveling to Mexico, Europe, and New York, returned to SAIC for his MFA in 1970. Some of Paschke’s earliest artistic influences were the animations of Walt Disney, as well as the colorful caricatures the artist’s father drew on the letters he sent home from Europe during WWII.
Though Roger Brown was born in Alabama and split his time between homes in Chicago, Michigan, and California, the Windy City always held a special place in his heart. Brown moved to Chicago in 1962 to attend the American Academy of Art, where he completed a commercial design program. Brown then enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his BFA in 1968 and MFA in 1970. During this time, Brown and his colleagues (many of whom would become part of the group known as the Chicago Imagists) began to nurture an appreciation for self-taught artists, seeing them not as “outsider” artists, but as worthy of respect and inclusion into the mainstream art world. This, coupled with his travels throughout the United States, Africa, Europe, and Russia, had a profound influence on Brown’s art. Though his works are often bright and simple in composition, the artist’s practice frequently presents a darkly satirical view of contemporary life and American culture.
Here at the Center, the conservation of murals is something in which we take great pride. In the early 1990s, our CEO Heather Becker co-founded a large-scale mural preservation project which restored a selection of Progressive and WPA-Era Murals in Chicago Public Schools. Since the completion of the project, The Center has continued to treat murals of various materials, time periods, subjects, and sizes.
For this reason, we were especially excited when the Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation contacted us about restoring a mural painted by Lester W. Bentley located on the West Foundation’s property.
As a Chicago-based company, it’s always a treat when pieces come to us with a bit of local art history. Recently, we had the opportunity to restore a large painting by James Allen St. John, a Chicago artist who is most commonly known for his illustrations of the popular Edgar Rice Burroughs "Tarzan" series.
This Bible first entered our client's family in 1889, and had been passed down to her through her mother's side of the family, who had emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia. Though she and her mother hadn’t used the Bible in quite some time, it was a treasured family heirloom that our client was eager to see repaired. She entrusted Bill Paulson, owner of the Apple Frame Studio in Mundelein, Illinois, to see to that the Bible be restored to its former condition. Bill, who has frequently worked with The Center on behalf of his clients, knew this was a job for our conservators.
The Center's Gilding Department specializes in the preservation of frames and objects with gold, silver, and metal leaf applied to the surface. A wonderful example of the type of projects our Gilding Conservators frequently undertake recently came to us in the form of a mirror in need of conservation.