News and Current Projects
All Year Round
The art conservation program works actively year-round to care for Cambridge's public art collection, from planning new fabrications to major repairs to annual routine tasks. Here are a few examples of recent art conservation activities:
Inman Square Gets its Color Back!
In an art conservation project scheduled for this winter and spring, artist Lisa Houck's much loved mural The Bluefish is Good Tonight in Inman Square has been temporarily removed for repainting. Dating to 1987, the original color had faded and turned "chalky." In this image, the team from USArt prepares for de-installation.
In the artist's studio, Rika McNally, Director of the Art Conservation Program, and conservation technician Rory Beerits wash one of the five panels. The white, powder-like "chalking" is the result of excessive deterioration of the original paint medium. The artist and her assistants will be using a new and improved paint system, and the art conservators will apply a 2-layer protective layer that includes an ultraviolet light inhibitor.
The Best Garage Windows in Town
Over the past few years, some of the brightly colored Plexiglas windows in Dot Matrix, an art installation by artist Ed Andrews, were broken. Ed recently came to Cambridge, and working with conservation technician Rory Beerits, replaced the missing panels.
The art installation, which is composed of a series of Plexiglas panels integrated into an aluminum grid held in place by steel cables, is checked and washed annually.
Stop by during the day or evening to see what locals have described as "like a church," "sublime," and "sometimes [it's] the favorite part of my day!"
The Igor Fokin Memorial, made by artist Konstantin Simun in 2001, celebrates the life of the famed puppeteer who delighted crowds of onlookers in the early 1990's. The little sculpture of "Doo Doo" the puppet charms passersby today and marks a favorite area for Cambridge street performers to entertain the public. From years of touching and exposure to weather, the small bronze was in need of regilding, and this was carried out by Paul Riedl, master gilder. Here Paul applies a yellow colored sealant layer before the gold leaf.
The memorial before and after regilding. блестящие!
The regilding drew a crowd of old friends, street performers, and members of the Russian community. From Left to Right: Puppet Man Blue, Paul Riedl, Konstantin Simun, Benjamin the Juggling Clown (a.k.a. Benjamin Elfant), Olesya Koenig of the From Russia With Art Gallery, Mrs. Elfant, Peter Panic, and Rika Smith McNally.
Artist Heidi Whitman's sidewalk mosaic Brain Terrain was damaged along one side from snow removal equipment during this past winter's snow storms. Conservators and technicians used tesserae reserved from the original fabrication to carry out repairs.
After 14 years of continuous use, the water pump and valves of Drawn Water, an art installation at the Cambridge Water Treatment Facility by artist team Mags Harries and Lajos Héder, required replacement. The original golden ball inside the Plexiglas water column, which reacts to the use of the drinking fountain outside by dancing with the bubbling water, was damaged from wear. After repairing the fountain works, a new golden ball was placed inside the column.