In the aftermath of fire in residential areas, once everyone and their pets have been accounted for and taken care of, the next human concern turns to finding and caring for items that represent the history of the person and/or family, their history and legacy. Items of value follow close behind in importance. How do you take care of your “stuff.” With 100,000’s of people evacuated, you can imagine the heightened concern for the safety of these types of close to the heart items. Once again, I don’t want to minimize the greater importance of life but, our specialty, expertise and profession are specific to helping you save, protect and restore your cherished family history items, collectibles, and art objects of value.
After the Thomas fire, not even 12 months ago, and the following mudslides in Montecito, CA the disaster response division of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories wrote up 60 proposals for insurance companies to estimate and propose the clean up and restoration procedures of 7,000 – 8,000 art related items of value.
The PBS program “Uncovered in the Archives” Producer called me a month or so ago all excited about something he considered to be super-interesting and important to report on: he heard there was a collection of 19thcentury paintings of the 21 missions of California by the early California artist Henry Chapman Ford that had almost been destroyed several times and were of National Treasure type of importance. He asked me if I knew anything about them.
(The 27 minute TV program video is at the end of this article.)
This last week I was in San Diego, CA visiting clients and making new connections in the painting conservation profession and for the first time decided to stay at a downtown Marriott Hotel. Downtown is quite the urban cement jungle with lots of tall buildings and the noise of dealing with that jungle and airport in close proximity. I remember growing up in LA, we’d go to the SD area beaches often to surf and there were about 1/2 million people. Now there are over 1.5 million in the city and 3.5 million in SD County. That’s a lot of growth to deal with. I think all of SOCal has had that growth to deal with in the respective infrastructures.
Painting restoration and cleaning artwork is the subject of what we suspect is humor from Harvard. The award was reported in “Chemistry World” which has been given out since 1991 called the “Ig® Nobel Prize”, “For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK”
This year’s chemistry Ig Nobel prize has been awarded for showing that human saliva is a good cleaning agent for paintings and historical artifacts. Its not really a traffic stopping discovery… its been part of the restoration processes, probably, for millennia.
After a meeting at the national annual conference for the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) in Chicago and a visit in Madrid and Toledo, Spain, renown painting conservator Julia Betancor was invited to come to our lab in Santa Barbara, CA to collaborate on several projects. Of interest to her were our organization and services for responding to the disasters for the preservation, cleaning of art related items. She has been previously involved with such projects in Toledo and Madrid. Here is a quick video about one of her projects:
Santa Barbara New Press Radio KZSB 1290 AM interviewed me this morning with veteran host and art appraiser Elizabeth Stewart on the “Art and Antiques Radio Program”
Given the abundance of very destructive disasters in our area recently (two wildfires and the Montecito mudslide since last December) the focus of the program was preparing for disasters. Not a very sexy subject but it is compelling when you think about the items in a household that tell the family’s history and there are collectibles that could be worth more than the house.
Of course, none of the discussion was canned advice from a website. Personal stories were abundant, and it was a lively and fun interview, not drab or philosophical at all as you might expect with Elizabeth who is really fun in real life.