Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Maintaining Public Art - Budget Struggles

By Kara Rose, USA TODAY
December 23, 2011
In 1996, Atlanta installed 18 pieces of public artwork as part of preparations for the Summer Olympics. Since then, almost half of the bronze plaques identifying that artwork have gone missing, says Robert Witherspoon, the project supervisor for the city's public art program.

See  http://www.muralconservancy.org for 1984 Olympic Murals  public  art in Los Angeles. See  http://www.savefreewaymurals.com  for more info on renewed effort to maintain this public art.

Atlanta has subsequently invested in stainless steel plaques for $500 each to replace some of the more expensive bronze and aluminum plaques that were stolen. Witherspoon says the remaining price tag for what needs to be fixed in the city's total public-arts collection is more than $600,000 — money which he says is hard to come by these days.
Atlanta is one of the many cities in an era of tight budgets having trouble affording the routine restoration and maintenance for public-art projects as well as occasional instances of vandalism and theft.

"I think it's a national problem and every municipality is facing this problem as they are faced with the budget issues that are common today," said Margot Berg, the director of the Philadelphia Public Art Program.
Philadelphia has been able to access some funds from the city's capital budget, but Berg said some cities' public-art commissions are forced to compete with health safety services for operating budget funds.
Liesel Fenner, public-art program manager for Americans for the Arts — a non-profit organization committed to preserving the arts — says a city project such as a library or civic center or park often has 1%-2% of its budget set aside for public artwork.
A city's municipal arts agency budget usually has 3%-4% annually for public-art conservation and maintenance, she says, but it may not be enough.
"All cities are being hard-pressed to maintain their works," Fenner said. "Some of those funds have been exhausted or capped. … It can become a triage — what pieces must we address first? What can we do on-site to repair the work?"
In fiscal 2008-09, Phoenix had $63,000 collected from city capital projects, private development or city-improvement projects to fund public art. Today, it's $29,000. In the same time period, the budget in Tempe, Ariz., went from about $90,600 to about $7,600.
Tempe artist Laurie Lundquist, who has created about 15 public-art pieces for cities across the area, calls the increase of vandalism "disheartening."
"We sort of do live and learn about vandalism and how to design not only for the space to be safe but to be as vandal-proof as possible," she said.
When Robert Indiana's Love sculpture was erected in 2002 at Scottsdale's Civic Center, many people balked at its $311,000 price tag. Now, it gets so much attention as people crawl all over it, the city spends more than $5,000 a year to keep it looking good.
As public-art agencies try to stay vibrant, they must take care of existing art or risk becoming generic places, says Betsy Fahlman, an Arizona State University art history professor.
"Public art helps create an identity and a quality of life for each community," Fahlman said. "If you don't protect it, you're not protecting the investment."
Keith Lachowicz, the public arts collections manager for the Regional Arts & Culture Council in Portland, Ore., says the city has to "decide what the biggest issues are and come up with some creative solutions for some of our other pieces. It's tough in this economy when funds are cut back," he said.
To help combat this problem, Portland has created the free Public Art PDX application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to showcase the city's collection. It allows users to locate the more than 400 pieces of public art. The app uses a map with color-coded pin points that, when clicked on, shows a picture of the work and allows users to check in to the site. "People can say: 'I was here and noticed the plaque was missing,'" he said.
Jonathan Kuhn, the director of art and antiquities for New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, says his department conducts annual maintenance , which is many times carried out by his own staff.
"(We take) existing city-funded staff and deploy them … so that we're maximizing those resources, and we seek additional private resources," Kuhn said.

Contributing: Connie Cone Sexton and Sonja Haller, The Arizona Republic

See  http://www.muralconservancy.org for 1984 Olympic Murals  public  art in Los Angeles. See  http://www.savefreewaymurals.com  for more info on renewed effort to maintain this public art.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Harbor Freeway Overture Mural's 20th birthday

What a fantastic visual treat it is as you come up the 110 Freeway from the south into downtown Los Angeles. In a day when printed posters for movies are the size of a building, it kind of blows you away to think of a hand painted mural that is 10 stories high. The mural eventually took on the title, The Harbor Freeway Overture. This is a very nice article in today’s LA Times about the 20th birthday of Kent Twitchell’s Monument to the LA Chamber Orchestra. 

                             Coming from the south northward on the 110 Freeway in downtown LA

Kent and I have been talking about doing some maintenance on the mural but this mural is not part of the 1984 Olympic Freeway Murals, which are the focus of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles’ efforts for restoration/conservation/preservation.

Shortly after you pass the Monument to the LA Chamber Orchestra,while you are still downtown, you will see Judy Baca’s great mural on the right side of the freeway under the 4th Street overpass sadly covered with graffiti. A short distance ahead on the left you will see Alonzo Davis’ mural, also vandalized. These two murals are slated for graffiti removal and art conservation just as was done for the Jim Morphesis Monument mural on the 101 freeway (www.savefreewaymurals.com).

The reason the Monument to the LA Chamber Orchestra has looked good all these years and has not been tagged is that it is out of reach, thankfully. Congratulations to Kent Twitchell and the LA Chamber Orchestra for the 20th Anniversary of this incredible, world class quality mural, truely a gift to the City of Los Angeles and all who live and work here.

For videos on the graffiti removal and restoration of other murals in Los Angeles, go to YouTube channel “bestartdoc” at http://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee SUBSCRIBE NOW to be notified when I add more videos.
Conservation/restoration questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kent Twitchell's Genius Final Touch on Biola Jesus Mural- "The Word"

I've written before about the work we did with mural artist extraordinaire Kent Twtichell (probably the most famous artist in LA and maybe the most famous mural artist in the USA) on his mural called the Biola Jesus by the public but formally named, "The Word." Its located at, you guessed it, Biola University in la Mirada CA (Los Angeles) and is realy a wonderful image and artistic expression.

Some time ago, there was an olive tree in front of the mural that died and was removed. Well, this tree was part of Twitchell's composition! It was considered an important part of the placement of the central figure, coloring etc.

You can see the videos about the restoration work (which was really interesting and entertaining) at www.fineartconservationlab.com/twitchell-biola-jesus-mural.

The wonderful detail I'm now posting about is the planting of a new tree, just to make the mural "whole" again. Note that this is a BIG olive tree and very expensive. I applaud loudly the sensitivity of the university to the overall effect the mural with the tree can have on the public.

We've been working on another mural by Kent Twitchell that is located on a freeway and was heavily tagged. If you'd like to see what that interesting project is about go to www.savefreewaymurals.com

Art conservation questions? Call Scott Haskins at 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jim Morphesis' Mural by Kent Twitchell Cleaned! Cleaning a mural

This is not the conventional way to clean a mural. But if the mural is painted right and if you have the right kind and thick enough protective layer on it and if you have the right kind of graffiti swelling agent and if the temperature of the day is warm enough and, and, and...

Want to donate to saving the LA 1984 Olympic freeway Murals? Go to http://www.indiegogo.com/jimmorphesismonument?a=283889&i=addr

Stay in touch with us on this project at http://www.savefreewaymurals.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Save Freeway Murals From The Taggers and Vandals

Today was crazy: I was on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, standing on the shoulder of the road about 5 feet from the traffic under an underpass all day. Today was the first day of work of graffiti removal from Kent Twitchell's Jim Morphesis Monument. Here's what happened today in an interesting quick 1 minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR0rpn8Z5cs

Sign up as our Friend on Facebook at Save Freeway Murals

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Banksy Mural in LA

Went to Los Angeles today to meet with owners, contractors and auction house reps to discuss taking a mural by Banksy off a wall that will be demolished. The final result will be sold at auction. If you haven't heard about Banksy, he's a English graffiti artist that has achieved celebrity status. If you'd like to be "in the know" go to banksy.com or look him on on Wiki. Even a movie has been made of him and his work called Exit Through the Gift Shop. See 
banksyfilm.com. This should make for some interesting posts and a video. Stay tuned!

See http:www.fineartconservationlab.com/blog for a photo.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Repair a rip with a patch?

I'm often asked about whether patching a rip, tear, hole or puncture in a canvas painting is a good way to correct the problem. I did a search on YouTube once and found an instructional video showing how to do it. BUT, in my 35 years of doing quality art/painting conservation on paintings on canvas I can tell you that almost always, a patch on a painting will cause problems and even cause more damage. I was abhorred, actually, at how many people had watched this video and there was no other voice telling the other side of the story. So, I made a video!

Well, the video has now been seen by lots of people and there are some interesting comments/questions that you will find interesting:


In my opinion, this is information/education that every collector should know. The questions that have been asked are very good too and show insight. This sharing is hoped to keep you from damaging paintings, save you money and protect your fine art investments.

If you like the video, please leave a comment/question! And please leave a THUMBS UP.

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Need to get into the Halloween Mood?

For all of you wanting to get into the Halloween mood... Diana 

and I were in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico speaking at an 

international conference on Hurricane Preparedness (how to 

save your personal items, collectibles etc 

See www.saveyourstuffblog.com) and we happened to be there

 on their Day of the Dead weekend festivities. FUN! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Estrada Court Murals

I'm looking forward to meeting with one of the artists of Estrada Court in Los Angeles today. We're going to discuss how I may be able to help with their efforts to preserve, protect and restore the murals. There are, I think, 54 murals in this public housing complex. The murals make for a very interesting/cool enhancement of the property. Here's a link to more info about the murals:http://www.lamurals.org/MuralFiles/ELA/EstradaCourts.html

FYI, I often meet with people at no charge to discuss questions, problems and options for conservation treatments/restoration and consultation.

Question? Call Scott Haskins 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard 805 895 5121

For more mural projects go to http://www.fineartconservationlab.com

For cool videos see YouTube channel "besartdoc" at http://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

Please leave a comment or question.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Removal of Graffiti and Tagging on Murals-Restoration

Tagged 5th St. Mural in LA
Tagged 5th St. Mural in LA
 There are new efforts being put forth by companies, city and state government, artists and art related associations to deal with the vandals and disgrace of tagging and graffiti. Why is there so much attention being given to this important involvement of preserving and the conservation of murals at this time?
Because of the realization that almost all of the most important artworks of this movement nationwide dating prior to the 1970s are disappearing. From the 1960s, this visual language has evolved. How do we choose to conserve and preserve these images located in public? It mostly depends on if the wall is public or private. Was the mural commissioned or just another illegal expression. It is their accessibility that exposes them to weather, graffiti, tagging and the surfaces on which murals are painted can damage the artwork over time. Hundreds of murals from the 1970s and 1980s are in severe disrepair. Without serious conservation and preservation they will parish.
The freeway murals in downtown LA are the subject of the constant battle against graffiti and tagging vandals. Caltrans (the highway maintenance authority in the State of California) is required by law to keep graffiti under control and off walls. Therefore, the distressing result is that the majority of the 1984 Olympic freeway murals, for instance, are painted over with gray paint by Caltrans to cover graffiti and tagging.
There have been some new developments and new techniques in the processes of contemporary mural restoration and art conservation in the removal of graffiti and mural protection, with most of the art conservation/restoration work is done under the guidance of the original artist. This collaboration makes the final result much more in line with the artist’s intent and leaves the mural more “original.”  These murals and other surfaces in every community are tagged or covered with graffiti.
Do you think a mural artists or street artists accept or like the tagger’s way of expression?

The task of maintenance seems to some unimaginative city officials to surpass the funding in most cities but this is actually a battle of urban pride and priorities, not so much budgets. There are dozens of way to incite public pride, such “Adopt a Mural”… even ways that would not cost the city direct financial costs.
This battle with the spray can delinquent is usually a matter of dealing with 13 and 14 year olds that don’t have attentive parents and don’t have parents with resources to clean up the mess even though there are laws that if the vandals are caught, the parents should pay the bill. A community service program may sever as a remedy  with an observed tag removal on a plain wall.  It can be a gang thing but I’ve been in Gangland where murals are respected. Let’s call the majority of taggers simply bored kids looking for a thrill. Most or all of them will “be over it” by the time they are 16 and most taggers are truly sorry for their tagging days when they hit their 20’s.
If we show the youth how to partake in a movement that is important, like being involved with real street artists, to have pride in being involved in projects that deserve to be recognized then the visual language becomes theirs, and the courage to get involved in the effort to protecting the murals will continue.
Street art or vandalism?
Street art or vandalism?
If you have any question on mural restoration, please contact Scott Haskins at
Fine Art Conservation Laboratories: (805) 5643438    Best_artdoc@yahoo.com
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121
What can you do at home to protect and save your collectibles from natural disasters” Go to
See an important tip for collectors at www.tipsforartcollectors.org/blacklight-package
Vandals deface neighborhood mural with graffiti
Vandals deface neighborhood mural with graffiti

Related Articles:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Delirium Flesh - Cleaning off a layer of nicotine

Here's one I'm delivering tomorrow. Covered with a yellow film of nicotine from heavy smokers, we cleaned and gave these wonderful colors new life. The owner is so in love with this print... it goes with his Harley. 

Nicotine can really change the appearance of a painting. Here's another example of what cleaning can do to restore a painting back to its former glory.

Art conservation questions? 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? 805 895 5121

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post War Abstract Expressionist Art

Carmel was beautiful and sunny yesterday. The owner of the Post War Abstract Expressionist paintings that we returned the completed projects to was over the top excited about our conservation/restoration work. We picked up two more (see photo... its by Ruth Wall c. 1947) to work on, one with an ugly tear... that will vanish.

We love working on Post War Abstract Expressionist paintings and have been for 20 years. We began working with David Carlson at that time.

And I picked up a painting that was SUPPOSED to be by a famous artist around 1900 but, oooppppps! Under the microscope below the dirt, dust and discolored varnish I was able to read someone else's original signature. The value went into the basement. Misattributions can be expensive mistakes.


Art and Painting conservation questions? Call Scott Haskins 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121

See interesting entertaining videos on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhsn

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cleaning a painting? Should I or shouldn't I?

Cleaning paintings is an important concern of collectors. I had a discussion with a lady who had recently purchased a couple paintings from circa the 1930's. She mentioned they had a yellow appearance.  She did not want to "ruin" or "alter" the piece, she was afraid of devaluing it. I explained that the varnish applied by an artist of the 1930's was most likely clear. The aging of the varnish and the circumstances in which the painting has lived over the last 80 yrs has resulted in the yellowing of the varnish. I do not believe the artist intended for the white water of the ocean to appear yellow. Yellow varnish alters the appearance of colors, for example; blue's turn green, pinks turn orange, purples turn brown, white's turn yellow etc...
Above is a detail of the contrast we see daily in the cleaning of old discolored varnishes.  This is a detail of a painting I am working on today.
As with all painting's that come into the lab for cleaning, we do not use home-depot-off-the-shelf cleaners. Each painting is different and reacts differently to the variety of solvents and  mixtures we use. Each painting undergo's a specific and careful evaluation, many tests are preformed to find the best solution which does not compromise the stability or sensitivity of paint.
Thank you for your interest!
For any question's please contact:
Scott Haskins

For any questions regarding appraisals please contact:
Richard Holgate - certified appraiser, member of the International Society of Appraisers

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Post War Abstract Expressionist Art

We are working on a couple of excellent quality Post War Abstract Expressionist pieces from the end of the 1950's in the lab today. One was terribly slashed. We're making THAT disappear!

This is not the painting, but it was one from this painting style of artists

Hope to deliver them to the owner in Carmel in the next few days. I love meeting with collectors to talk art.

Want to talk art? Call 805 564 3438
Art appraisals? 805 895 5121

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kent Twitchell Finishes Art Restoration of Mural at Biola University

The 3rd video of the art conservation/restoration of monumental realistic beautiful outdoor mural by Kent Twitchell at Biola University is ready. Very interesting and cool! http://bit.ly/iF59qd

Its the 3rd video on the page (largest). If you like the video, please leave a comment and click on the THUMBS UP!

Kent Twitchell is the leading muralist in Los Angeles, known world wide. Google his name and pack a lunch cause there's a lot of interesting stuff to read. His murals are always huge, gorgeous, realistic and interesting.

He is also the co-founder of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and is a driving force to get outdoor murals protected from graffiti.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kent Twitchell Finishes Restoration of The Biola Jesus Mural

I'm in Los Angeles (La Mirada) today putting the final varnish on Kent Twitchell's Biola Jesus mural. Kent, the original artist of the mural done in 1990, is in charge of the restoration. But he has brought me on as part of the effort to consult with him on conservation efforts/needs. Today, I'll also be shooting the final clips for the video I've made of the project. Stay tuned!

If you haven't seen the two previous short videos yet, of the analysis before the work and the video on consolidation and conservation efforts, go to www.fineartconservationlab.com/twitchell-biola-jesus-mural

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dutch Old Master Restored - Frame Restoration

Just finished, in the lab, a beautiful Dutch Old Master oil on panel for a collector in Las Vegas. We took of a lot of retouching off during the cleaning which was not needed and cleaned the old discolored varnish off the reveal the glow of the original. This was really treat to see completed.

The frame is not original, although it is beautiful. While the painting was being worked on, we had the frame restored too. It was stripped of ugly gold paint and was re-leafed with 23 k. gold and antiqued to a period finish, similar to its original finish. Its from the middle of the 1800's. The painting is from a hundred years earlier. www.fineartconservationlab.com

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This LeConte Stewart Oil Painting Required a Double Cleaning

When I cleaned this landscape by LeConte Stewart years ago, I didn’t really know the artist’s work. I’ve worked on a few more paintings by this artist over the years usually through William Karges Fine Art or George Stern Fine Arts. But then, this week, I was meeting with the LDS Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, UT and they had up a wonderful exhibition of LOTS of Stewart’s paintings.

Double cleaning of an oil painting
Sometimes different layers of dirt come off with different solvents and require a double... or even a triple cleaning.

Over the years I have used this photo to show of the stages of cleaning a rural Utah landscape by LeConte Stewartas an example of how, sometimes, a painting can require several cleaning stages to get it completely clean duringart conservation treatments. This is really quite a common situation where the solvent that takes off the top layer of crud, doesn’t touch the underlying discolored varnish layer… and sometimes it can be more than two layers! When doing the cleaning tests in order to estimate a budget, this multiple cleaning is usually met with conflicted feelings by the owner: its thrilling to see how big a difference there will be but… the double or triple cleaning process is more expensive. Its part of the price to get the job done right. I can’t tell you how often we have people bring paintings in the art conservation lab that have JUST BEEN CLEANED by someone else… they failed to either know what to do or they didn’t see the additional layer of discoloration left behind after the first cleaning… and the painting still need to be cleaned further.

Actually, two Salt Lake Museums are exhibiting the works of this Utah painter, which marks the first ever joint collaboration between the LDS Church History Museum and the University of Utah Museum of Fine Arts. I saw the exhibition at the LDS Museum of Church History. See video and KSL article at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=16473783

I was really wowed. His artwork, large and small, was of a very nice quality. He was very poetic in interpreting boring rural Utah landscapes into beautiful colors, contrasts, composition and emotions that I would have never thought possible… and was drawn to! His perspectives, draftsmanship and confident execution are consistent throughout the exhibition. It was a real pleasure and inspiration.

If you have the chance to get by the museum for the show, set the time aside. I wish the museum would have published a catalog. But they did produce a DVD that is available in the gift shop.

Do you have art conservation questions? Call 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121
For more important tips for art collectors, go to www.tipsforartcollectors.org/uv-blacklight

Monday, August 22, 2011

Broken Hanging Wire Causes RIpped Painting and $4,300.00 Worth of Damage

Look at the back of the painting's rip
The reverse side of the painting with the rip, caused by the hanging wire breaking

The Laguna Arts Festival holds a lecture series (http://bit.ly/pVVE6C) and I was their visiting expert last week.  I spoke about general things to think about when protecting and saving collectibles, artwork etc. Well, yesterday, someone’s disaster walked through my front door. A valuable vintage painting’s wire broke and the oil painting on canvas hit the edge of a table and here’s what you get… a 6 inch x 18 inch “L” shapped rip and flaking paint. See the informative story with tips, link and videos at http://saveyourstuffblog.com/paintings/how-to-hang-a-painting-and-do-it-right/
  •  You do the math; be a good curator of your collection or mishaps like the one in the photo above are $4,300.00 to fix perfect.
Questions” Call Scott at 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121
Also see http://www.fineartconservationlab.com
Did you find this article helpful? Click on the THUMBS UP!
Please leave a comment.

Broken Hanging Wire Causes RIpped Painting and $4,300.00 Worth of Damage

Look at the back of the painting's rip
The reverse side of the painting with the rip, caused by the hanging wire breaking

The Laguna Arts Festival holds a lecture series (http://bit.ly/pVVE6C) and I was their visiting expert last week.  I spoke about general things to think about when protecting and saving collectibles, artwork etc. Well, yesterday, someone’s disaster walked through my front door. A valuable vintage painting’s wire broke and the oil painting on canvas hit the edge of a table and here’s what you get… a 6 inch x 18 inch “L” shapped rip and flaking paint. See the informative story with tips, link and videos at
  •  You do the math; be a good curator of your collection or mishaps like the one in the photo above are $4,300.00 to fix perfect.
Questions” Call Scott at 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121
Also see http://www.fineartconservationlab.com
Did you find this article helpful? Click on the THUMBS UP!
Please leave a comment.