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May 2008

Art in public places especially that placed in outdoor environments requires frequent inspections and maintenance to preserve good appearance and physical stability. While McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory, Inc, is largely engaged in caring for the large public art collection of the U.S. government dispersed among federal properties throughout the United States, the art conservation company attends to the needs of Cleveland art and other local artworks. Here are some of our Cleveland Public Art Projects.


Jim Dine’s monumental bronze Venus was commissioned for the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse in Cleveland for the building’s construction and was installed in 2003. At the time of the sculpture’s fabrication, a review of the materials, patina and the protective coating on the bronze by McKay Lodge, Inc. predicted a need for maintenance cleaning and recoating at five-year intervals. This is no small matter for the thirty-seven foot tall bronze sculpture perched high above the building’s main entrance. The prediction proved true. In September, 2008, McKay Lodge, Inc. art conservation staff will clean the sculpture, touch-up the brown patina and renew its protective coating. Because the plaza cannot bear the weight of heavy aerial lift machines and the street is too far away, scaffolding will need to be erected. The first erection of scaffolding will be done with the installation of attachment points or “anchors” permanently installed into the building’s stone facade. While this is a costly procedure, these points of attachment eliminate the need for more expansive free-standing scaffolding. These will then be used for attaching scaffolding in all future maintenance procedures.


During May, McKay Lodge Art Conservation, Inc. will close off the granite fountain sculpture by Athena Tacha and perform seasonal maintenance procedures of cleaning, sealing and caulking. Case Western Reserve University has engaged the company for this seasonal maintenance following the company’s complete rebuilding of the fountain several years ago to correct some fundamental original design flaws. The stepped granite fountain sculpture is highly popular as a seating area for the university students. This human use and the fountain’s strict artistically functional water requirements make the structure a high-maintenance artwork.


This painted Cor-Ten steel sculpture by Cleveland artist David Davis made in 1976 and installed at the Beck Cultural Center in Lakewood will be removed by McKay Lodge Art Conservation, Inc. in May for conservation. Typical of all painted metal sculptures in the outdoor environments, the limited life of paint coatings requires periodic repainting of such works. Continual advances in coatings materials helps to extend these necessary recoatings. Utmost care is given to maintaining original colors and sheen in every necessary recoating. And like most coated steel sculptures, issues of corrosion must be addressed as part of the preparation process and prevented in the future by optimal coatings applications and materials.

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