Public Art happiness is … Renowned Williamstown Art Conservation Center caring for historic Gloucester murals!

Thanks to Mayor Romeo-Theken, city officials & departments and staff, residents, volunteers, archives and generous grant awards & donations, — Gloucester’s extant historic mural collection has begun a new chapter and is beginning to receive most fitting care at the illustrious Williamstown Art Conservation Center!

Williamstown Art Conservation teams commence work for Gloucester MA_on its historic mural many WPA era _20180510_© Catherine Ryan.jpg
WACC conservation teams on the ground in Gloucester, MA, 2018

 

Located on the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute campus, The Williamstown Art Conservation Center​ (WACC) is a non-profit institution that was established as the regional conservation center for New England by the US government back in 1977.

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The Williamstown Art Conservation Center is located on the campus of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. (architect Tadao Ando)

 

The summer 2017 issue of Art Conservator, WACC’s indispensable industry magazine, ​focused on the center’s 40th anniversary milestone and Director Tom Branchick. The back page prints the 2017 Center consortium members.

 

williamstown art conservation center member consortium 2017
Gloucester Massachusetts art collection stands with important American collections and just might be the first municipality on this list!~

You can peruse the issue here or follow the link to explore a complete digitized repository of current and past issues. The WACC website URL is: www.williamstownart.org

 

Conservators at the center assessed the condition  and performed necessary triage because of the invaluable support from the city’s Community Preservation Act (CPA). CPA funding and Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s stature are inspiring endorsements for broadcasting the project and compelling additional financial support. As money is raised, every mural will have its necessary care regimen completed. Donations in support of the mural care can be sent c/o the Auditor’s Office, City of Gloucester, 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA (note mural restoration). All murals will be displayed in Gloucester as soon as their care is completed.

Sneak peek then and now:

The former Eastern Avenue School (85 Eastern Avenue) was the site for the monumental mural, Schooldays, by Frederick L. Stoddard, from 1936.  This multi-panel triptych was painted 8 feet high and nearly 60 feet long despite an array of unusual architectural challenges. My hunch for its original location on the main floor was confirmed thanks to Barbara Tarr. I’m looking for interior photos of the school that show the mural installed. Over time the school walls were resurfaced, doors blocked, and an elevator installed. Based on my expertise, I recognized that a stand alone piece was misattributed and must have been dispersed, not as bad as the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz after the flying monkeys descend-… still it was dire and will be amazing to have it whole once again! Special thanks go to Gloucester’s Department of Public Works.

catherine ryan correct attribution and rediscovery for major and amazing frederick l stoddard gloucester ma 1936 mural © catherine ryan

 

 

 

 

Art Conservation at City Hall Gloucester MA

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Catherine Ryan writes-

Hi Joey

SAVING ART CULTURE HISTORY

Besides the Public Art Challenge that is happening as we speak, the Gloucester Committee for the Arts (CFTA) has other exciting news in January 2013!

Part of the work of the Committee for the Arts (CftA) includes mapping the way for appropriate and comprehensive ongoing preservation plans for the City’s art holdings. The CftA is committed to the preservation of Gloucester ’s irreplaceable cultural legacy for future generations.

Art conservation involves the cleaning, preserving, and occasionally the repairing of works of art. Art conservator, Peter Williams, will be setting up scaffolding in City Hall to commence cleaning on some of our stellar WPA murals by Charles Allan Winter (1869-1942). Williams, who has worked with museums and galleries for over 40 years and began his career as conservator with the MFA, was chosen to perform the restoration and preservation work and to complete the work in Phases as funding allows. The restoration work will be a great chance for everybody to see a very cool crossover of science and arts up close, all the while eyeing some of the very best New Deal art in the country. If you’re visiting City Hall, look up, look around! We know art can be a touchstone for so many learning disciplines. Take this chance to get a behind the scenes look at the preservation of our beloved murals. It’s a real joy to be able to look at art like these special murals, learn more about them and now, too, this opportunity to share awareness about the science of conservation.

Before any restoration work could begin, the CftA for several years spearheaded a fundraising effort and applied for grants for the painstaking process of cleaning and restoring these giant murals. Among the contributors were individuals and foundations/grants, including seARTS/Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Gloucester CPA funding, and the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation. Perhaps some readers may have purchased postcards at City Hall on Middle Street walk or coasters at another event all of which have contributed to this fund. With over $28,000 raised, the CftA now has the support necessary to begin Phase I for the first few murals, and will continue to raise more funds to finish the projects. We are so fortunate for these contributions. Thank you!

Here are details from two murals. This series by Charles Allan Winter wraps around the doors and architecture surrounding the lobby just outside the Mayor’s office. City Council in Session fills the space above the collector’s windows (approximately 7 feet high by eleven feet wide). City Government covers the opposite wall. Tucked in and around the arch-topped lunettes, the two-part mural, Civic Virtues, spreads across the two other opposing walls. This Winter series focuses on government themes as befitting their location, and the test of time. They offer special glimpses of our community in the 1930s as they include many portraits from life, great detail, artistry and ideas. Note the boys (youth) in the “planning” section of Civic Virtues clasping pieces from a model of the Gloucester High School .

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ABOUT THE GLOUCESTER COMMITTEE FOR THE ARTS

Made up of citizen volunteers appointed by the Mayor and City Council, The Committee for the Arts was established by City ordinance in 2000 to promote and celebrate Gloucester ’s cultural heritage.  The Committee recently has worked to preserve and increase awareness of Gloucester ’s WPA murals and other City-owned art. Additionally, the Committee develops and promotes educational programs and establishes awards and honors to recognize local artists. It implements a city-wide public art policy.