Oakland Temple Painting Art Restoration

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painting restoration

There aren’t any murals in the Oakland Temple of the LDS Church but as in all the other temples there are other paintings. I have a little bit of a contention with the choice of art though… how do nondescript landscapes relate to the message and environment of the temple? It seems that the temples are full of mediocre landscapes I wouldn’t even want in my house.

On the other hand, I was surprised to see this 19th century painting of a mother playing happily with her children come to Fine Art Conservation Laboratories for art conservation treatments a couple of months ago. Its a sweet subject matter that, whether you like this type of thing or not, has a message that is in line with the temple… and is very decorative. Its very well done and in a nice frame.

While at FACL, the painting was cleaned, lined to eliminate cracking patterns and given a new coat of varnish. The result was the elimination of the cracks so they would not lead to flaking and so the cracking patterns did not visually interfere with the details of the painting, much better colors were visible in the dark areas of the painting, better depth of field and contrast and there seemed to be a glow in the lighter colors. The results were quite satisfying.

Perhaps someday we’ll get to refinish the decently styled Italiate frame which had been painted by someone with gold paint and looked pretty dismal. And, I’m not sure where it will hang but we are pleased to have been able to contribute to the long life of this beautiful painting for the Lord’s House.

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Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

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Mural Reinstalled in Ogden

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New Ogden Temple

The old Ogden Temple was the same style as the Provo Temple but had several big problems as related to me by the temple engineer: 1. It was built on an underground river which was resulting in a perpetual mold problem they could not overcome, 2. It was built on a fault line (and Emil Fetzer, Church Architect, had done little in the design to mitigate the potential problems of 1 & 2), 3. The temple was doing only 35 marriages a year (the SLC Temple does about 50-70 a week) cause no one wanted their photos in front of this temple. Unlike the Provo temple which is “fed” by the MTC and the BYU Students, this temple’s popularity languished severely.

So, several years ago it was announced that a new temple would be built on the same spot as the old temple, with the obvious upgrades: it was to be a “destination temple” that would provide a Kodak moment at every turn and would take some of the pressure off the SLC Temple wedding traffic. (BTW, the new Provo Tabernacle Temple, now under construction, is designed to also help). People ask me, “What style is it?” and I offer that it seems to have a Book of Mormon architecture vibe to me.

In the lobby of the old temple was a 9′ x 15′ mural (an oil on canvas glued to the wall) by Robert Shephard of the Mount of Transfiguration done in 1976. I was hired to remove it and save it for later installation into the new temple. Here’s a video I made on the process of removing murals, in general, from a wall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iOiL2urctM

This week, the time has come for the reinstallation of the old mural into the new temple. Completion of the temple is slated for July 19th when the keys will be turned over to the Church. I love the new style, the abundant use of stained glass. You can see in the photo the installation of some of this glass work above the entrance. The mural will be in a hallway behind the recommend desk.

Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

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Teichert Murals from Montpelier and much more…

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I finally arrived home let evening with about $3 million worth of art in the back of the Suburban. Today we’ll unleash the power and smarts of the team at the lab, get everything “logged in” evaluated, tested, photographed and organized.

It was an astounding 3 week trip starting in SLC at the Roots Tech Conference, exhibiting as an author and connecting with major companies that want to partner with my new book coming out, “Collection Care Tips – Save Your Stuff” a multi-media $27.00 e-book with videos and other how-to info. There’s going to be a Family History industry wide “product launch” where we will give my book away for free plus other training to preserve and save items that are important to family histories. Its a great book for collectors too.

Teichert Mural in Montpelier, Idaho

One of two murals in the historic tabernacle

Then we went to Montpelier, ID to save two murals (oil on canvas glued to the wall) by Minerva Teichert before demolition was begun in the LDS Tabernacle (a conference center) that housed them. One of the murals depicts Pioneers and the other is a very nice rendition of the First Vision of Joseph Smith. The appraisal of the artwork stupefied the administration: they are worth more than the building! An interesting factoid about them is that this was Minerva Teichert’s stomping grounds and her ward building is the town next door, Cokesville. We careful rolled the murals off the walls before massive updating and bringing the building up to code is begun. Among the work will be asbestos and lead materials removal, new electrical and other systems, maybe earthquake retrofitting? We are talking the murals back to our lab for art conservation treatments and then we will reinstall the murals when the building is ready in about 15 months. We will be the last ones to finish our work in the building after everyone else has completed their work. I shot some video that you’ll find interesting. Sign up for blog updates in the side bar so you are notified when I post it.

Removing the Teichert murals for safety

Removing the murals by Minerva Teichert for safety during building renovations.

On our way back to SLC, we stopped in Ogden Utah to prep a wall in the new LDS Odgen Temple for the installation of the returning mural that I removed from the building several years. Construction will be ready for the reinstallation in May. I love the new style of the temple. “They” are calling it a “Destination Temple.”

Then I spent a day and a half meeting with private clients in the SLC area. A highlight of the visits was with Anthony’s Antiques who gave us a $150,000 painting by Albert Beirstadt of the Wasatch Front painted in about 1868 to work on.

Before leaving Utah, I also met with the director of the Springville Museum of Art, Ms. Rita Wright and we discussed several of the Museum’s needs. We picked up several  paintings, very important to the museum’s historical collection, by John Hafen that need some work before they are included in an up coming exhibition. More about these paintings later, also. Stay tuned.

So, now after loading two 9 foot murals rolled around a tube and several other paintings my Suburban is starting to fill up… but I’m not done yet…

Next stop was Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day. Keep in mind that for my sweet wife Diana, V-Day is a more important celebration that practically any other holiday. Well, I’m exaggerating a little bit but you get the idea. So, she met me in LV and we stayed at Caesar’s Palace and went to see Shania Twain in Concert. It was a great performance and she has definitely “Still got it” (the name of her show). It was good entertainment, really fun and romantic.

So, this next ‘event’ is a little contorted to explain… I’ll have to leave out some details. But last March (11 months ago) was my 60th birthday. My sweet wife thought it would be fun to do something different and adventurous although I wasn’t up for swimming the English Channel like Jack LaLane. So she signed me up for driving a Ferrari on a race track (after she made sure my life insurance was paid up). But the race track in the LA area “fizzled out on us” and though we got our money back, I was left with this very cool idea in my head… and NO 60th B-DAY gift!!!!! Well, low and behold, we are leaving Las Vegas to go to St. George and on the way out of town (going North) is a race track inviting and advertising for MY 60th B-DAY GIG!! So we pulled in “to get some info” but in reality, as soon as we pulled off the freeway I was ready to climb into a fast car. It wasn’t long till I had a helmet on and was sitting in a Ferrari Scuderia 510hp with 7 laps of “all I could be” ahead of me. I could go on and on… it was really fun (top speed 115 mph and 1min 3 sec fasted lap) but I’ll cut it off here.

I’m still smiling about my 60th birthday present…

Next stop was St. George, Utah to do emergency maintenance work on the murals within the St. George Temple which took about a week. They were painted by Joseph A.F. Everett in 1939 and are nice, Impressionistic paintings. I won’t into the history of the murals but they needed to have flaking stabilized and some inpainting of paint loss. More is planned in a few years. Here’s a photo off the internet of one of the walls.

Joseph A F. Everett Murals in the St. George LDS TempleInterestingly, I had several desperate phone calls on this trip involving disasters and insurance companies… all in Las Vegas! One of them was about an art gallery that was “blown up” by a gas company gas leak explosion! The other two were about massive water leaks that basically ruined the entire house from both water damage and mold. One of the water damage phone calls was able to get cooperation with their insurance company right away and had me go by the house and pick up, on my way home, a pile of paintings to be cleaned and brought back to “pre-existing conditions.”

So, there you have it, the short version of the last three week’s trip meeting with numerous private collectors, museums, church facilities and “saving the world of Mormon Art.”

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Art conservation questions? Call Scott Haskins 805 564 3438

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121

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Purpose of Life Mural Art Conservation Treatments Completed… and a twist!

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Here you are, the first to know… we have finally finished the painting conservation treatments on the famous The Purpose of Life mural. This iconic painting was widely used, worldwide, as a teaching aid, illustration and artwork. You may have seen the video of how we removed it from the walls of the Hyde Park Chapel in London England before they modified the building in preparation for the Olympics.

What we did to preserve and restore the mural

Once in our lab, we stabilized the condition of the paint layers which were stressed during the removal and the shipping from England. The stabilization process helps to guarantee that paint will not flake in the future and that cracks will not develop.  Any distortions that had formed while being rolled up were relaxed with heat and solvents so the painting lay perfectly flat. The painting was cleaned then any paint losses, damage etc were “inpainted.”

painting restoration

A lesson for you on “inpainting”

Inpainting is a professional art conservation  term that denotes very careful and accurate retouching with small brushes with reversible varnish or water based based colors. We never use oil paint. In fact “retouching” is a rather crude term which insinuates disguising damage but not necessarily accurately. “Repainting” or “overpaint” is still further afield from the careful color-matching inpainting techniques professionals employ. If you hear a professional art conservator use the term “retouching” in front of you, he/she is probably dumbing-down the vocabulary for you thinking you won’t know or understand the correct terms.

An interesting choice to be made

An interesting detail about this mural was the decision of how to remount it to a wall. The choices were to 1) re-adhere it directly back on a wall or 2) adhere it to an aluminum honeycomb (and aircraft industry product) panel that could then be mounted to a wall, or 3) to utilize a fairly new technology of mounting it to a semi stiff thick webbing that could be bolted to a wall. Benefits of this last option would allow the artwork to be unbolted and removed if perhaps the building were to be damaged in a fire or an earthquake or if the painting were desired for a major exhibition someplace else. As you might guess, the last option was the one chosen because of its successful implementation on the murals in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Grant Clawson

North Visitors Center murals by Harry Anderson and Grant Clawson

About the varnishing

The final varnish layers have UV filters contained in them, will not yellow with time and no matter how long it will be until the next time varnish removal may be required, the varnish will come off easily and without damage to the original paint. The choice of varnish also considers which type will best saturate the original colors and make it look its best. Some synthetic varnishes make paintings look like a poster.

Where is the new home of the mural?

The painting has been delivered to Brigham Young University Idaho where it will eventually be displayed in a prominent location although the exact place has not been decided yet. Therefore, it was rolled up on a large diameter tube for storage where it will wait patiently. We look forward to the installation of this wonderful painting and we look forward to the celebration at the inauguration by the many people who love this image and its message who celebrate its saving from demolition.

Stay tuned for a video of the processes (still to be made). Sign up for blog updates in the side margin.

BYU Idaho final inspection

Gerald Griffin from BYU Idaho doing final inspection of art conservation work with Oriana Montmurro, FACL conservator

But here’s a surprise twist…

While we were working on the art conservation treatments of the mural, I got a phone call one day from a member of the Church in Sacramento California. I was dumbfounded when he told me that while he and his wife were on a mission at the Visitors Center of the Hawaiian Temple, demolition, renovation and updating of the Visitor’s Center took place. And before the work got started he with some help ripped off the wall another mural that is the same as this one, only with Asian people depicted, in an attempt to save it. Its been rolled up in his garage for decades  but as he remembers it, he assumes it was the same size (7’ x 19.5’) and painted by the same artist (Robert Oliver Skemps) about the same time (1964) as the mural in this article! The owner of the artwork isn’t going to use it or wants it but is willing to give it back to the Church. I believe the process of reacquiring the mural is in the process with the History Department but it is not a smooth or speedy process. Of, course, there are many more questions that come to mind that, presently, don’t have answers. But I have volunteered to go up to Sacramento and take possession of the painting which I assume is in terrible condition given the presumably rough removal techniques, being tightly rolled up and stored in a garage. Stay tuned (sign in – in the right margin) and we’ll let you know as the story breaks!

Got a comment? Leave it below…

For an eye witness, on site account of the removal from the Hyde Park Chapel go to: http://fugalmission.blogspot.com/2011/08/mural-in-hyde-park-chapel-and-packing.html

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 faclartdoc@gmail.com

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121 jrholgate@yahoo.com

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St. George Temple Murals Inspection

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I’ve been asked to inspect the St. George Temple murals this next Monday for condition and mural restoration issues. So, at this point there isn’t much to say other than their condition and the potential art conservation treatments are being taken into consideration for a future intervention. I’ll report back in after the examination.

As some of you know, the St. George Temple was the first temple completed by the early pioneers after their arrival from Nauvoo.

If you like hearing about the inside information on LDS art of a historical nature, its preservation, my adventures with the History Dept and looking back into the historical artistic testimonials of faith, sign up for updates in the sidebar and share these posts with other likeminded folk.

Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

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Minerva Teichert painting in arrival at our lab

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Rarely seen because its tucked away in an LDS chapel in the town Minerva grew up in, Cokesville Idaho is a large painting 4′ x 8′ that is beautiful and interesting and will be coming to our lab later this month.

Minerva Teichert Detail of Jesus Christ appearing in the AmericasThis is only a detail of the painting and, as you can see, its a Book of Mormon scene of Jesus Christ appearing in the Americas. I’ll post about it later once its in the lab for art conservation treatments and let you see details of it and tell you what we will do to preserve it. So, stay tuned! Sign up in the side bar to be notified when I add new info to this blog.

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The Manti Temple Art – Upcoming art conservation work

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For many, the Manti temple holds a very special place in the heart. Traveling 800 extra miles, my parents were married there in 1951 and my mother always purred over the lovely pioneer, Victorian style that sets a particular stage for the wonderful ceremonies celebrated there. Like the Salt Lake temple, the Manti temple was built with the blood sweat and tears of sacrifice of poor people with great faith and the stories are truly inspiring… not the least of these being Brigham Young’s quote that Moroni dedicated the land for this temple during his lifetime (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/03/the-manti-temple?lang=eng).

This temple is the only temple with pioneer art murals by C.C.A. Christiansen in the Creation Room. Dan Weggeland originally did murals in the Garden but the East wall, which was built into the hillside, leaked water, the mural was damaged and not knowing how to restore the mural the Church had the room repainted with other murals by Robert Shephard (who did an exquisite job!). The artistic masterpiece is the World Room by Minerva Teichert, who was painting the same time Shephard was painting in the next room. The story goes that Shephard was so inspired by Teichert’s energy and style, he went to the 1st Presidency with a proposal for changing his murals but they held him to their contract. Read more about Teichert’s painting of the World Room here: https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/viewFile/6578/6227 Here’s a preparatory sketch of her work for one of the walls that is on exhibit at the Church History Museum

I think it was in about 1982 that the Manti Temple had an annex added and other renovation work done. The addition was to be place on the East side of the temple in an area to be dug out of the hillside, on the other side of the wall from the Creation Room with original pioneer murals by CCA. Great insights on the part of the Historical Dept. as to what damage the vibrations of the bulldozers might cause prompted a request for me to inspect the murals before excavation began. How fortunate we were to have taken a look! Approximately 40% or more of the plaster layers along that East wall were detached from the rock wall and should there have been excessive vibrations, the whole could have ended up on the floor.

Our work in the Creation Room at that time consisted of consolidating the plaster layers (reattaching them to the rock), cleaning,d king minimal inpainting and varnish. In the Garden Room, there were unsightly yellow drips in the varnish that had badly discolored. So that room was cleaned of the old varnish and revarnished. The World Room just had surface grime and so we removed that and revarnished. With contraction immanent, we then covered the murals with plastic.

Now, its 30 years later and I’m being asked again to visit the Manti Temple and have a look at the murals and formulate some proposals and budgets. Some work is anticipated maybe next year but I don’t know what it will be yet. I’ll hoping it means a reunion with some old friends on the walls of one of the LDS Church’s most beautiful buildings.

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DC and Rio Temple Murals

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Here’s the intro video for the website on Pioneer Art Restoration (http://www.pioneerartrestoration.com)

Sorry we haven’t posted anything interesting lately. Some of my help graduated from school and moved on (interns). But an interesting conversation I had the other day was with a planning department that wants to protect and save murals in the Rio de Janero and Washington DC temples next year. So we are making plans for assessments and testing. Its nice to know that the murals are part of the plans!

We’ll be in touch!

BTW, if you are interested in what you can do at home to protect and save family history items from damage in storage, mishandling or disasters you should take advantage of the 50% off price for my much acclaimed book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster e-book edition (CLICK HERE). This last year it was a HUGE hit with the several companies of Daughters of Utah Pioneers I spoke to.

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Mob violence and murder of Joseph Smith

Martyrdom of Joseph Smith at Carthage Jail

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

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Carl Christian Anton Christensen’s Well-Known Painting Restored

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By Eleanor Nelson, Guest Blogger

Carl Christian Anton Christensen (1831-1912) was born in Copenhagen and joined the LDS church in 1850. After a mission to Norway (where he met future pioneer artist Dan Weggeland), he eventually settled in America, travelling to Utah with his wife as part of a Danish handcart company. He is beloved for his paintings illustrating the history and culture of the LDS church, and has been described as having done “more than any other person to capture the images of the history of the Mormon migration to Utah and the life lived there.” His many accomplishments included the paintings in the St George Temple and the Creation Room of the Manti Temple (art conservation treatments performed in 1983 by Scott M. Haskins). His best known work is the Mormon Panorama: a group of paintings, 7ft high and 13ft wide that now belong to BYU, that were sewn together at the ends and scrolled on spools to create a moving picture of the history of the church. Christensen travelled with this piece around Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, using it as a helpful teaching and story telling device. This series was also preserved and restored by Scott M. Haskins.

This wonderful painting, Welcoming Arriving Immigrants, shows immigrants arriving in Zion. It conveys the happy and welcoming spirit that Christensen felt about being part of God’s people. It was so well thought of that he made at least two other copies of the painting, one of which hangs in the Church Museum of Art of the LDS Church.

The painting was cleaned in 1981 and was in reasonably good condition. Light cracking over most of the surface was present but not causing any problems. It was, however, covered with a very discolored layer of varnish. When varnish yellows over time, a general color shift occurs throughout the painting: blues become greens; purples become browns. Contrast is usually reduced between the figures in the composition and so the painting takes on an overall flatter appearance.

Before the painting was cleaned, solubility tests were performed to check the sensitivity of the original colors to the solvents that might be used for dissolving the varnish. It is imperative when cleaning varnish off a painting that the original colors are not affected. Once the testing was completed, a custom mixture of solvent was formulated and the discolored varnish was removed, square inch by square inch with Q-tips and magnifying lenses.

During the removal process, it was quickly realized that there was a second layer of varnish underneath the first. This was also discolored, but much harder than the top layer, and was not removed during the cleaning process, partly due to budgetary constraints. Also, the dramatic improvement achieved by the removal of the first layer satisfied the client so no further work was done. This decision had no negative influence for the preservation of the painting. It received several layers of synthetic varnish, used in art conservation because it is easy to remove far into the future and does not yellow. Any time in the future a follow-up cleaning can be performed.

This painting is on exhibit in the conference room of the International Pioneer Museum in Salt Lake City.

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Cody Mural Art Conservation Examination, Cody Wyoming

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When you walk into the space where this mural is located it catches you a bit by surprise! You are surrounded by the story and emotions of the mural because it is painted on the wall of a small round room with a dome. The painting is 9’ tall from bottom up to the curvature of the dome… so add another 5 ft? It bends around 80’ of the circumference of the room. Painted in 1951 by non member of the LDS Church Edward T. Grigware, the style of the painting is a modern style utilized in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s that has a lot to do with illustration art. You may recognize the style as similar to ads from that period and illustration from magazines. I like the style a lot and immediately saw a stylistic similarity with the famous “Purpose of Life” mural that was painted in 1963 for the New York World’s Fair and was an illustration used in Man’s Search for Happiness. I rescued that mural from the Hyde Park Chapel last year where massive renovation took place to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. The Purpose of Life mural is in our art conservation lab right now, being prepared for installation on the BYU Idaho Campus eventually. To see a quick video of that mural removal process go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_MRCf7uKEE

The Trust that oversees the maintenance and care of the famous and beloved Cody Mural in Cody, Wyoming is looking ahead at upgrading the systems (air conditioning, heating etc) in the Visitor’s Center. As a planning precaution, I was called to give them an art conservation professional evaluation of the condition of the mural, just in case the mural might prove to be too weak or have problems that would be impacted by the upgrades.

Well, good news to those who know and love this mural: 1) the mural is in great condition and 2) the Trust doesn’t want to put the mural in danger in any way.

While I was doing the evaluation, I took some photos and this is the short video review of my visit that I made:

I have been impressed at how many people far and wide know about this mural, love the subject of pioneer history and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and relate to how the mural tells the story of the sacrifices that the pioneers made in settling the West.

You’ll really enjoy the website that the visitor’s center has set up at http://www.codymural.com

Also, you will be interested, perhaps, in the continuing development of the Church History Department’s website within the larger LDS Church website. Go see it at http://history.lds.org

If you would like to see other mural conservation – restoration projects we have been involved with see some of our very interesting videos on the youTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.com

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