The McKay Lodge Conservation team travels far and wide to preserve a wide variety of media, from electronic media and optical art to large scale murals to outdoor sculpture. Conservator of Public Art and Sculpture, Jim Gwinner, of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory recently traveled to Van Buren, Maine to perform the outdoor bronze maintenance in the State of Maine, or as one might say, “maine”-tenance.
Near the Land Port of Entry into Canada artist Nina Katchadourian with sculptor Glenn Hines created a work entitled the Grand State of Maine, 2013. The artwork pays homage to the 23rd state with state symbols which were then sculpted and cast in bronze.
The Grand State of Maine features a stylized bull moose with a Maine Coon cat sitting on its back. A number black-capped chickadees, the state bird, rest on the antlers of the moose. Near the feet of the largest member of the deer family a salmon fish and a can of Moxie can also be found. Additional symbols are also included along the base of the sculpture.
The artwork is in good condition. The casting is of good quality, and it has no porosity or welding inclusions visible. The surface was found to be clean with no significant soiling or impacted dusts on the work. There was no protective coating found; therefore, the surface appeared dull and lifeless. The patina is also in good condition, but it appeared dry and it was beginning to show signs of degradation in the form of streaking and light corrosion products.
Despite its good condition, outdoor bronze maintenance of the Maine artwork was needed. Corrosion would only worsen in time without conservation intervention.
The sculpture was first rinsed with water followed by a cleaning with a dilute conservation grade surfactant. This process removed any surface dirt and debris before the application of a protective coating. A wax coating applied with heat was used to coat the surface of the bronze, saturating the corrosion and enriching the appearance of the sculpture overall.
The surface was then buffed after the wax cooled to a pleasing low lustre, completing the outdoor bronze maintenance in Maine. Depending on the weather and public interaction, the coating should last approximately three to five years until it requires renewal.
Whatever direction you are crossing the border either to or from Van Buren, Maine, be sure to stop and visit this charming sculpture featuring the State of Maine’s official animal, cat, bird, fish, and even soft drink.