People love to know where they come from. Online family mapping services have become popular in the past few years, used primarily to create “family trees,” a common way to trace genealogical lineage. Historians have traced the “tree” image back to a medieval piece illustrating the Tree of Jesse, used to map the genealogy of Christ. Chinese philosopher Confucius has the longest family tree in the world, more than 80 generations and including over 2 million members. Tracing lineage is emotionally and practically important for any family, so when we received a family tree in for treatment at The Center, we knew how special this would be for the family.
Many of us have things passed down from our family, maybe stuffed in boxes in the attic or basement, that are treasures to us. These treasures, though maybe not valuable in the eyes of the public (or art market), are priceless to us. “Everybody thinks their Great Aunt Margaret was a great artist,” said one of our clients. Yet sometimes, as that same client found out, it turns out to be true.
Sometimes pieces arrive at The Center in good condition, but have inappropriate framing treatments. We are frequently asked to reframe art, or to provide solutions to address faulty framing. For instance, one piece came to us in great condition, it had simply slipped from its mount inside its frame. The piece was a mixed media work by Mark Bradford, an installation and conceptual artist from Los Angeles who had first experimented artistically in his mother’s hair salon, and now has pieces in museums around the world.
Frederick Douglass changed the course of history with his powerful writing and moving speeches. An escaped slave, Douglass devoted his life to the abolition movement and even became involved in the movement for women’s rights. Douglass also published his own newsletter called the North Star and wrote numerous autobiographies.
It seemed like any other Wednesday in September at The Center. Things were relatively quiet after a previously hectic week at EXPO CHICAGO, and the Client Services team was expecting an appointment with Israel Idonije who had a large watercolor piece that needed display options. When the client arrived with the watercolor, the team quickly realized that “display options” was an understatement. The Conservation Center prides itself on interdepartmental collaboration and the consultation soon included several conservators from many departments, all of whom were ready to Bear Down and tackle the task at hand.