September’s Facebook cover image of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) features, Professional Associate Scott Haskins (left in the photo) of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories, Inc., who is also a former chair (for 6 years) of the Conservators In Private Practice (CIPP) specialty group. In the image, conservation professionals are lining three sections of the previously detached 280′ long mural by Buck Winn, “The History of Ranching in Texas”. The murals are in the collection of the Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. An action photo of the lining process (art restoration treatment) of three 30′ paintings is this month’s header.
Mr. Haskins works with painting veteran conservators Julie Stephenson, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon and conservation technicians Diane Stevenett and Danielle Masters (who are also featured in the photo). More information on the project and a short video can be found here: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/murals/the-art-restoration-of-texass-most-famous-lost-public-art-by-the-most-famous-texan-artist-you-never-heard-of/
The process of lining or backing a large canvas is a specialization that few art restorers have in the world. Mr. Haskins familiarity with the quality techniques and process were evident also from the recommendations David Coleman, Director of the Alkek Library Collection, received from other art conservators in Mr. Haskins’ favor when they were choosing an expert to undertake the work.
Dr. Coleman expressed confidently, “We couldn’t be happier with the work, FACL’s expertise, their customer service and communications throughout the process, the complete range of services to assist… it has been a completely positive experience and we would recommend Scott Haskins and FACL to everyone for art and mural restoration services no matter where you are located in the USA.”
The three 30′ sections of the mural required lead abatement, paint consolidation, distortion removal, rip repairs, lining, cleaning, fills and inpainting, and varnishing. FACL, Inc. is certified for toxic materials abatement such as lead and asbestos. There are several videos on YouTube that show the detaching process of murals and their reinstallation options. Here is the YouTube channel for mural restoration
Oriana Montemurro inpainting murals by historic Texas artist, Buck Winn.
Art conservators that work in a private practices have businesses ranging from sole proprietorships to large companies, they provide support for clients such as artists, private collectors, galleries, corporations, museums, universities, and governmental agencies.
The importance of the History of Ranching is being rediscovered and recovered. The Texas State University chose Fine Art Conservation Laboratories after an exhaustive nationwide search for the expertise to deal with the serious preservation problems and in the hopes of ending up with a quality work of art to re-exhibit in the new Alkek Library on campus. The university owns 3 of the 11 sections that make up the 280 mural. As of the date of this article, the art conservation treatments on these 3 sections of mural are just completed. Plans to re-reveal the mural are in effect, but sadly the different parts of it have been separated… and are not likely to be reunited… so the full effect is lost. There is, however, very quiet discussions taking place regarding the other 8 sections of mural.
Buck Winn completed more than fifty projects in his life mostly between 1940 and his death in 1979, all on relatively large scales apart from his award winning postage stamp design for a three cent stamp in 1946. Some of his larger works are still available to view by the public in government and public buildings, however as new development has taken place an equal number have been sadly lost forever due to bulldozing and no care taken to recover the works before hand. There are funds and awareness groups urging for protection of these art pieces such as the Texas State Historical Association, stating that they are important works to preserve for the sake of art history and Texan history. Some of the murals no longer even exist in photograph form which is a real shame for future generations as well as all that appreciate his art work today. It is unclear why more care was not taken during reconstruction.
This story demonstrates the necessity for the preservation of architectural art (like murals) and also that loss of something precious can still happen in an “enlightened society” as ours if no one takes action to “make it happen.”. Losses and gaps such as the one in Buck Winn’s repertoire demonstrate a modern example of the problems we experience in looking at history. It is a difficult task to interpret the past as is, and the further you get from it and the more gaps that present the more difficult it gets. Especially in an age of technology and knowledge, as we are now, there is no real excuse for the loss or forgetfulness of anything like this.
Luckily, there are several societies and organizations fighting to save and promote Buck Winn’s legacy. These include the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas State Historical Association, which is one of the only bodies to have a decent biography about the man in question. Hopefully he will continue to be recognized for the artist and innovator that he was, that no further works of his will be forgotten or destroyed and thanks to experts like Fine Art Conservation Laboratories for their expert consultation service, nationwide on such projects and for their heroic efforts to do the actual mural protection, preservation and art restoration.
Mural Conservation Contact info:
Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon Art Conservators
805 564 3438 firstname.lastname@example.org
Videos showing the work of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories
If you live in Los Angeles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5K5CIUWVp8
If you live in Orange County: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHo5A9L_rVA
If you live in Los Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6h-cU3TWD8
If you live in Salt Lake City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COuMshFt9ek
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