...serenity in motion

Conservation and Commitment

Ever stood in a museum and wanted to touch?  Just reach out and lightly brush your fingertips across the surface? Guess what I got to do today. 

I was honored to work on some historic pieces today at the gallery doing restoration and conservation work.  While leaning over the surface, looking at the damage, I’m touched by the presence of history and the connection to the artist.  I can almost see his hand over the surface of this piece.  I’m eradicating scratches and places where something was spilled because the original wasn’t under glass.  Conservation People!!  Always consider conservation, whether it’s your own work or somebody else’s.

The owner of the collection is selling it to a museum and when he had it mounted originally, the frame shop and he didn’t consider conservation.  As the owner of the art, are you responsible for it’s conservation?  Maybe, maybe not; but it doesn’t hurt to look to the future.  A survivalist once said, “Walk out the door of your house thinking of survival”.  I think if we’re going to be involved with Art, perhaps we should start thinking about conservation from the moment the artwork gets into our hands.

Conservation starts with your choice of framer, moves through the mounting materials and continues to where you choose to hang it in your home.  Watercolors, pencils drawing, most pastels and anything done on paper; shouldn’t be hung on an outside wall.  Temperature changes and humidity differences will cause the paper surface to expand, contract and warp.  They shouldn’t be hung in a place of direct sunlight either, they can be susceptible to sun fading.  There is also surface preparation to consider  Did the artist truly prep the surface of the painting?  Many Jackson Pollak’s pieces are disintegrating because he didn’t gesso the canvases and the acids in the paint are eating the fragile fibers. Hundreds of museum purchased paintings won't see the light of day because of his choice of surface.  When buying a sketchbook, consider if it is acid free paper and bound with an acid free cover.  What are you sketching with?  Some artists use sharpie, those can fade or be affected by other materials over the top of them.  Not everything you use is indelible and will fade in time.  I know of a couple of artists who paint with coffee, very fragile and will fade! Give your self an opportunity to last.  Every career had a beginning and you don't know when yours starts.

All of these are things to consider when creating or even collecting work. In the interim, I will consider myself lucky to be able to work with something like this.