BACC conservators were called out of the lab this July to carry out a conservation treatment on an early 20th-century relief mural by a well-known San Diego Impressionist painter. Although the mural is undated it is likely more than 100 years old. Remarkably, it still survives in its San Diego home.
The piece features a tranquil desert scene that was first sculpted in relief on the wall, and then later painted in earth tones with splashes of bright color. When coupled with the beautiful craftsman architectural features of the room, the California Impressionist mural instantly transports one back to the San Diego of the early 20th century.
The BACC team stabilized some local areas of cracking plaster on the mural, gently and safely dusted the piece, and inpainted a few small, scattered plaster and paint losses throughout the room to visually reintegrate them into the greater composition. Now the mural is both structurally stable and visually refreshed. It is complete, once again.
Considering its age, the fact that the mural was found in such good condition is a testament to the generations of careful stewards who have owned the house since its creation. This, of course, includes the current owners of the house, who admirably prioritized the preservation of the mural so that it will continue to live on. This project reveals how it's not only institutions like museums that preserve local art and heritage for future generations, but it's individuals within our community, as well.
Watch this video produced by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and learn a few fun facts about BACC. Thanks for featuring us, BPCP!
The Balboa Art Conservation Center's newest initiative, Preserve Community Art! was created as part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to protect important cultural heritage. Through this program BACC provides pro bono art conservation services for culturally significant works that emerge from community-led movements in the San Diego area.
Here is just some of the press coverage that resulted from the program's announcement:
ABC10 News: "Some San Diego County Organizations to Preserve Artwork Following Protests"
Art Daily: "BACC Announces Program to Protect and Elevate Artwork from Social Justice Movements"
KPBS: "Local Art Conservators To Preserve Protest Art"
KUSI: "Balboa Art Conservation Center Begins Social Justice Art Preservation Program"
San Diego Union Tribune: "Column: Why the Balboa Park Conservation Center Thinks Protest Art is Worth Protecting"
Times of San Diego: "George Floyd Murals, Similar Works Sought by Balboa Art Conservation Center"
Learn more about the Preserve Community Art! program by visiting its webpage here.
Earlier in 2020 the Balboa Art Conservation Center's conservation team made a series of videos from their respective residences during statewide stay-at-home orders. The goal was to provide helpful, easy tips that anyone could implement to protect and clean the artwork they have at their home. The videos are handy, often humorous, and wonderfully homemade. Originally created for Instagram, they are now archived on YouTube as well.
Sara Bisi joined BACC in November of 2019 as the organization's Associate Conservator of Paper. Her diverse background in art conservation and collections care was gained by working with both large institutions, such as the Yale Center for British Art and the Harvard Art Museums, and smaller regional centers like the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
She earned an M.A. in Art Conservation from SUNY Buffalo State College with advanced study in paper conservation and a B.A. in Art History from Saint Joseph College. Bisi held post-graduate positions as a research associate in paper conservation at the Yale Center for British Art and was awarded the Craigen W. Bowen fellowship in paper conservation at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums in 2010.
Her areas of interest and previous research include the analysis of color printing methods and materials before 1800, the development and analysis of an iodine vapor treatment for silver mirroring on photographs, and teaching workshops and courses on general collections care and preventive conservation practices.
Here we learn more about her thoughts on being a conservator, favorite projects worked on to date, and more.