Louisiana’s most famous female artist, Clementine Hunter, didn’t start creating art until around the age of 50. Born just a few decades after the Civil War, Hunter lived most of her life on the Hidden Hill and Melrose cotton plantation where she worked as a field laborer and domestic worker, respectively. It wasn’t until the mid-1940’s when a visitor of the plantation left behind art supplies that Hunter began to create the art she is known for today.
Last month we had the pleasure of hosting a private tour of our conservation laboratory and warehouse in collaboration with the Glessner House Museum. The museum previously brought us a ceramic piece from their collection that had shattered. When the tour came through in the first week of the month, the group was fortunately able to see the piece mid-treatment.
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.
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.
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.
Robert Rauschenberg is frequently remembered for his series of work created in the 1950s and 1960s that combined aspects of both painting and sculpture. Rauschenberg himself called them "Combines", a term he invented to describe a work that is neither a sculpture nor a painting, but rather a hybrid of the two. The artist was always one to experiment and fuse, often creating something entirely new from two entirely different substances.
With many different departments working together here at The Conservation Center, we understand the value of teamwork. On certain occasions, this means working hand in hand with other companies and specialists to develop the correct treatment approach for a unique piece. When we received a call regarding a large public sculpture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden that had been struck by a car, we knew right away that engaging some of our trusted vendors to assist our team with the repairs may be necessary.
The Conservation Center is proud to be part of a vast community of individuals and institutions dedicated to conserving the past. We recently had the opportunity to work with such an institution, the Oak Park Public Library, to help conserve a part of their history.
Some works of art are meant to take you by surprise; a sculpture that came into The Center recently did just that. Half deer and half man, this curious ceramic and felt piece came without an explanation or backstory. However, it did come with a broken hoof and several other complications for our conservators to address.