Erick Gude has been on the staff of the Balboa Art Conservation Center since 2001. As a conservation technician and photographer, his primary duties include photography, reframing, art handling, and conservation of frames. Before landing at the Center, he had worked for the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Terra Museum of Art in Chicago, the Musée d’Art Americain in Giverny, France, and the San Diego Museum of Art.
Here he shares some insights on what it’s like to work at BACC, and working in the field of art conservation, in general.
How did you end up working at an art conservation center?
When I heard that BACC was looking for a conservation tech, I was intrigued. I had been working as a museum preparator for more than ten years, and I was ready for a new challenge. I had worked peripherally with conservators over the years, so I jumped at the opportunity to expand on the skills I already had and I was eager to learn a new set, as well.
To date, what is the favorite conservation project that you have worked on?
The project that was the most fun for me was an on-site we did in Sacramento. There had been a fire in the capitol building, and we were there to clean the murals in the Senate chambers and dust the sculptures, nooks, and crannies inside the rotunda all the way up to and including the ceiling. It required most of the staff, a few good temp workers, and three stories of scaffolding.
My favorite project, however, was the removal of two Edgar Payne murals from an old theater. It was a difficult job done under challenging conditions: no lights, no air conditioning, and a sloping, sticky floor. It required a bit of out of the box problem solving, and that was just to get the pieces to the Center. More challenges awaited us in the lab. In the end I was very satisfied with how well the murals turned out, and I was proud that we were able to rescue and preserve two important pieces of California art and history.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Occasionally art comes to us that is severely damaged or so dirty that it is not viewable. That moment when the piece is back in its frame, on an easel — it looks reborn.
What do you wish more people knew about conservation work?
Art conservation is a science. The conservators I work with are scientists. When a work of art is brought to us for treatment or analysis, it is treated with the utmost respect and care.
Before she completed an Andrew Mellon Fellowship at BACC, Morgan Wylder worked as the NEH Fellow in Paintings Conservation at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, having already earned her graduate degree in Conservation of Easel Paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. During graduate school, Morgan interned at the Regional Laboratory for the Science of Cultural Heritage Conservation, Portland State University, and the paintings conservation department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Her current areas of interest include the conservation of Modern and Contemporary paintings and mixed media artworks, materials and techniques of 20th century California painters, and helping artists to better understand materials to support their artistic practice.
Now an Assistant Conservator of Paintings at BACC, she shares some thoughts on what it’s like to be an art conservator.
Beginning March 20, 2020, BACC's offices will be closed until further notice. This closure is in response to the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as mandated by the State of California's "Stay at Home" order. You may still contact staff via email.
Our board and staff will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and take advisement from city, state, and federal authorities. We look forward to letting you know when we can get back to business as usual and appreciate your ongoing support.
BACC was thrilled to serve as a key partner in The Edward S. Curtis Orotone Conservation Project at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego.
MOPA holds 175 Curtis images in its permanent collection and 13 of those are unique orotone prints that were contained in original mounting material from the early 1900s. Although the orotone photographic prints themselves are in fair-to-good condition, issues with frame damage, dirt, and fear of further harm prevented MOPA from loaning and exhibiting them.
After securing a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, MOPA looked to BACC to restore this collection to its near-original condition.
Learn more about this project by visiting MOPA's site, here.
Now an Assistant Conservator of Paintings at BACC, Bianca Garcia first landed at the Center as a Mellon Fellow in Paintings Conservation. Her areas of interest include pre-19th century paintings, Spanish Colonial art, and polychrome sculptures. When she is not conserving art at BACC, she serves as the Program Manager for the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation, an initiative that supports opportunities for students who are from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in the conservation field.
Learn more about Garcia as she answers five questions about being an art conservator:
In light of the current circumstances with the continuously evolving COVID-19 outbreak, these have been postponed until further notice. We look forward to getting back on schedule as soon as we can safely and responsibly do so.
Learn How BACC Can Preserve and Repair Important Documents, Beloved Works of Art, and More!
The clinics are as follows:
BACC’s art conservators are experts in their field and have access to the latest conservation technology. Over the course of a 30-minute consultation, they will discuss your concerns, assess your artwork, and recommend ways they can help preserve the artwork and/or bring it back to its former glory.
Consultations are open to the public, but an RSVP is required. Unsure of which consultation clinic to bring your work to? Staff will help determine the right fit. Please call 619-236-9702 or email email@example.com for questions or to reserve your spot. The cost is $75 for each session.
Alexis has been with BACC since her third-year internship in 1998. In addition to treating paintings and painted objects, she is involved with the technical examination of paintings at BACC, including infrared reflectography, X-radiography, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and cross-section microscopy. Here she answers five questions about being a conservator:
BACC's Chief Conservator of Paintings, Alexis Miller, recently conserved one of the few paintings that remain from the original construction of the Immaculata Church in San Diego. The painting by S. Rubiralta was meant to recreate the image that was said to have been shown to Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico City.
As part of the conservation process, Alexis carefully cleaned the dirt and grime off of the work with a special aqueous solution. Touch ups were made to the paint, and a protective synthetic varnish was applied. All of the work was done on site.
Learn more by enlarging the article from their church bulletin, The Beacon, below:
The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) is pleased to announce that Sara Bisi has been hired as Associate Conservator of Paper. Bisi started in early November, and will be responsible for the conservation, care and treatment of a wide variety of works on paper and paper artifacts. Bisi will also guide purchases of new equipment for paper conservation made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Comprehensive Organizational Health Initiative grant.
Bisi comes to BACC with a diverse background in art conservation and collections care gained by working with both large institutions such as the Yale Center for British Art and the Harvard Art Museums and smaller regional centers such as the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
BACC conservation staff have been busy soaking up and sharing valuable information at various conservation conferences and symposia this fall.