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As part of an ongoing project for the Hartwood Acres Park sculpture restoration, McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory recently finished recoating a large outdoor sculpture, Large Escargot, 1982 by artist David Hayes. The sculpture is 17 feet high x 12 feet x 15 feet.

Large Escargot, 1982, David Hayes Image Courtesy of Hartwood Acres Instagram

Hartwood Acres Park is a 629 acre park located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that was historically designed as a country estate for an equestrian family. The sculptures in the park were installed in 1980, and were now in need of conservation intervention. Jim Gwinner, Conservator of Public Art and Sculpture, performed an assessment to determine which artworks in Hartwood Acres Park were most in need of treatment.

Large Escargot arrives at lab, the failing paint and corrosion are visible before treatment

Large Escargot was just one of several artworks that were included in the Hartwood Acres sculpture restoration project. The sculpture when originally installed has three main forms, each painted a different primary color. Over the years, the sculpture endured the elements, and in time, the artwork by David Hayes was in need of treatment. The paint was chalked and flaking, and the metal substrate was actively rusting.

Large Escargot along with other sculptures were deinstalled and transported to the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory facilities just outside of Cleveland, Ohio to begin the Hartwood Acres Park conservation project. The project was certainly on a monumental scale, with nearly six large outdoor sculptures; however, the nearly 50-acre conservation lab facility is well-equipped to handle such tasks.

Failing paint and corrosion are cleared from the surface with abrasive media blasting

For Large Ecargot, the failing coating was removed with abrasive blasting; the process not only removes failing paint and corrosion but also creates a surface (or profile) on the metal so that new paint layers can adequately bond to the substrate.

Lodge applies the first coat of red paint

Emmett Lodge, NACE Certified Coatings Inspector and experienced coatings applicator, performed the recoating of the large outdoor sculpture. The process involved not only a spray application, but some painting by hand. After treatment, Large Escargot by David Hayes appears with the original palette of primary colors which accentuate its curving forms. Lodge certainly “snailed” it.

Lodge applies blue paint around the edges by hand

Though the recoating of the large outdoor sculpture was now complete, it must wait for its reinstallation. Several other artworks as part of the Hartwood Acres Park sculpture restoration project are still in progress.

After treatment, the original color and gloss are restored, but reinstallation must wait for now

The late artist David Hayes was born in Connecticut in 1931. He received his M.F.A at Indiana University, studying with Robert Laurent, Alton Pickens, and David Smith. As described in the artist’s bio sketch, “he has some 400 exhibitions and is included in over 100 institutional collections including those of the Modern Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.”

Stay tuned for future blogs as the entire Hartwood Acres Conservation project will be shared.

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