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Saving and Preserving Collectibles, Heirlooms and Memorabilia from Montecito’s Mudslides of Interest to the New York Times

The New York Time’s Visit to Santa Barbara and Their Interest In The Story of Saving and Preserving Collectibles and Heirlooms from Montecito’s Mudslides

by Phillip Justice, Guest Blogger


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Posted in Consultations, Disaster/Emergency Response, In Lab, Professional activities | Leave a comment

Varnishing a Mural – Antigraffiti Measures- Protecting Public Art Testimonial

This educational article is of value to artists planning to paint a mural in a public location. It is also invaluable for public offices and departments planning to place public art. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL, Inc.) has a 3 year contract with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to consult, advise and offer art/painting/mural conservation services. See other background materials in the navigation bar of this webpage. We are available to discuss with you your projects. See contact info at the end of this article.

Protecting murals from graffiti is an essential part of the pre-planning of a new mural in a public place. Even if the mural seems out of the way or out of reach, vandals find ways of shooting the paint. The graffiti on this mural goes up about 20 feet.

Before we can discuss the types of protective varnish to use, you need to understand the premise for choice. In the professional mural conservation field, when asked how long should art last, we think in terms of “generations.” Murals are part of a community’s heritage, part of the architecture, part of a community’s vibe and culture. They are not just a decoration.

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Valuable Exquisite 150 Year Old Painting Destroyed by Careless Handling and Shipping

Wonderful detail of a jewel-like valuable painting… extensively damaged because of stupidity.

Damage to artwork from careless handling, lousy packing and then shipping is completely avoidable… and you’d think that an exquisitely painted, $75,000.00 valued oil painting would automatically be treasured and cared for!

This extensive damage which resulted from lack of care had to NOT be a surprise to the owner as previous flaking, painting restoration and probably active, continued flaking were undoubtedly evident. But, now, the damage and losses are catastrophic.

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Posted in Consultations, In Lab, Painting on canvas | Tagged | 20 Comments

Painting Restoration Testimonial from Salt Lake City of an Historic Portrait of George Washington

Painted about 1800

This is something we see all the time in our painting conservation laboratory; someone accidentally pokes the 19th century painting on canvas with very little effort and causes a hole or rip. Sometimes its amazing how fragile these paintings are.

Oil paintings on canvas from the 1800’s are very brittle… more brittle that any other period of art. This is because the additives into the fabric in order for them to be produced by industrial looms accelerates the deterioration by acids. I have in the lab canvas that is 200 years older that is 10 times stronger because it was made without the additives for mass production.

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Wright Thurston’s International Power Summit

An experienced art conservation technical relationship with art seems to be an important expertise and knowledge sought after by auction houses, art dealers, curators and investors in art. Why is that? What should this tell you?

The fact that I inspect and discuss on a professional basis with people perhaps 50-500 works of art a week also “ups my game” when looking at hard-to-determine conditions and situations that may have an affect on an acquisition or value of a painting.

When buying art, due diligence is no less an important concept than in other areas of investing. An expert in your pocket is the key to avoiding many mistakes.

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Preservation and Restoration of a very cute 27 ft. mural, Animal Circus by Hubbel Reed McBride c.1940. Its lining and stabilization.

I can’t imagine that anyone would want to destroy such a quality painting and fun subject matter as this painting. I’d like to share the fun subject matter of a mural that was saved from demolition in Denver, Colorado.

Detail left side of mural

Animal Circus by Hubbell Reed McBride was painted about 1940, oil on canvas adhered to a wall (marouflage). It is super cute in all its details, even when looking at it up close. Do a Google search for “Animal Circus Murals” and look at “images.” You won’t find anything that comes close in quality or being so cute (for kids of course!).

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Art Conservation Restoration Expert? “Have you worked for any institutions?”

There are only a few labs in the world that can handle the lining of a 30 ft painting… we did three for the State of Texas.

A New York art dealer has a client that needs some art conservation help in Utah and after looking over my resume wrote me that, yes, they had seen where we’ve done work for the Fine Arts Museum in SF and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art but had we worked with any other institutions? So, I dictated for her a quick list off the top of my head:

“The City of San Francisco, New Asian Art Museum, numerous art galleries in San Francisco, The Oakland Museum, the Oakland temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the City of Monterey, Monterey Maritime Museum, Monterey Museum of Art, the City of Carmel, several historical houses in the Carmel Monterey area, the University of California at Santa Barbara Art Museum, The Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara Mission Archive and Library, the Santa Barbara Historical Society, Santa Barbara Historical Museum, numerous historical houses in the Santa Barbara area, Oxnard public library system, the City of Ventura, Bank of America Corporation in Los Angeles, the City of Westwood, the city of Santa Monica, Los Angeles Convention Center, the Jonathan Club, the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, The City of Los Angeles, Caltrans, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Getty Conservation Institute Special Projects Division, The University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, The Japanese American National Museum, numerous historical houses in the Los Angeles area, the Bowers Museum, the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, the City of Newport, The City of Laguna Beach, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the City of Las Vegas, the State of Utah, This Is The Place Monument in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young University, the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints headquarters in Salt Lake City for five different departments, Daughters of Utah Pioneers International Museum Plus several of their small town local museums, Fort Brigg El Paso Texas Army Base, Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Coast Guard exhibit center in Maryland, Fort Wood Army Base in Missouri, Port Hueneme Naval Base in California, The City of Cedar Rapids Iowa, the General Services Administration in Pennsylvania Washington DC New Mexico California Texas Georgia, The City of Dallas, the State of Texas, Texas State University, Texas Southern University, Fair Park Dallas Texas, the City of New Orleans…

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Thomas Fire and Mudslides- Saving Family Treasures

There are family heirlooms, art, antiques, family history items and treasures that can still be saved and preserved in very good condition in a house that is in this situation! Use care in the removal process. Their preservation can make all the difference for the owners in emotionally recouping from this disaster for years/decades to come. Wow, what a photo above!

Don’t know what to do, need help with questions about insurance claims? ProBono, expert art conservation advice.

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Smoke Damage Restoration of Artwork, Antiques and Collectibles

The Thomas Fire in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas at the end of 2017 was classified as the largest wildfire (acreage) in the history of California. Over 1000 structures were lost in the firestorm driven by 40-70 mph winds in the backcountry which threatened densely populated areas prompting the mandatory evacuation of more than 16,000 residents with many more voluntarily leaving for more that a couple of weeks. Even though the fire was not driven into the cities, the wind blew smoke and ash onto 100,000s of local residents and polluted skies northward past San Francisco, 600 miles away. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories has a special division of services to offer to disaster response companies, insurance companies and directly to collectors and owners to help respond professionally to the care, restoration and conservation of artwork, collectibles, keepsakes and antiques: Here’s a quick video:

Just today we have processed a dozen or so requests for evaluations and inspections of smoked artwork, sculptures, family photos, model train sets, ceramics and collectibles… all of the cherished items that make up a family’s heritage and history.

Once such family has been in the railroad business for 4 generations and you can image that connection they feel with their family’s memorabilia! What a heartbreak to see the damage but what a wonderful moment to share with them how everything can be cleaned up to good and new.

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Cleaning a painting with smoke damage 30 sec video

Cleaning smoke damage from artwork, other framed items and collectibles is a service we routinely take care of. Paintings are often darkened by discolored varnish too. This gorgeous tonalist vintage painting, about 1920, by Granville Redmond  re-emerges from the darkness to its former glory. It glowed after we cleaned it and put the conservation grade varnish layers of it.

Questions about cleaning a painting?

Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon – Art Conservators

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Posted in Disaster/Emergency Response, In Lab, Painting on canvas | Tagged , | 16 Comments

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