CLEVELAND OHIO: PPG CORP. PROVIDING MATERIAL AND TECHNICAL EXPERTISE TO AID IN PIONEERING OPTIMAL REPAIR AND PROTECTION TREATMENTS FOR Painted OUTDOOR SCULPTURES BY LUIS A. JIMÉNEZ
Outdoor Painted Sculpture Conservation:
Three years ago, the leading automotive finishes company, PPG Industries, enthusiastically joined with McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. of Oberlin, Ohio in pioneering new methods and applications of their most advanced materials for both repairing weathered outdoor sculptures by the late Luis Jiménez and, very importantly, preserving those in good condition further into the future with their best products.
Treatments of numerous outdoor painted sculptures by Luis Jimenez over the last three years at the Cleveland area McKay Lodge Conservation facilities has advanced to a level of repeatable perfection thanks to PPG technical and corporate personnel’s on-site guidance for each treatment as well as the presence, guidance and formal approvals of the conservation work by Susan Jiménez, Executive Director of the Luis A. Jiménez Jr. Estate.
The southwest artist famously painted his colorful glass fiber and resin sculptures with sign and automotive paints, purportedly finishing with an automotive clear coating. Many such works placed outdoors have deteriorated, requiring re-paintings and re-coatings by the artist and others. Several of these refurbishments have failed. Deterioration is typically in the form of cracking, debonding of the clear coat(s) and fading of the colors.
Drawing from the huge array of coatings products PPG designs and makes for vehicle performance requirements, including trucks, buses, aircraft and personal vehicles, the PPG technical team members have been selecting the color base coatings and various clear coatings they feel will achieve the strongest bonding and longest coating life in high heat and bright sun environments as well as provide protection from vandalism.
The PPG technical team has been given corporate permission to devote time and resources toward working with McKay Lodge, Inc. art conservators in product-use training, selecting the best materials, and advising on the best practices to achieve the highest level of durability and protection possible for the painted works of Luis Jiménez.
PPG Corporation has taken an exceptional interest in repairing the painted fiberglass sculptures of this artist precisely because it presents a unique and difficult technical challenge in the lap of their otherwise automotive coatings realm. They have also found the collaborative interaction with McKay Lodge, Inc. sculpture conservators to be enlightening since the artistic structures are on the cusp of art and vehicles.
This continued support in research and execution is of great value as PPG products continue to advance and because each of Luis Jiménez’ sculptures and their past environmental exposures can be different. This gives McKay Lodge, Inc. conservators access to the latest PPG product advancements, sometimes before they become commercially available, and it assures that every Luis Jimenez sculpture treated at the McKay Lodge Conservation facility receives the world’s best products and automotive coatings technical advice.
The product recommendations and guidance by the PPG’s technical team exceed the common products and knowledge of most automotive paint shops. PPG has been working out multi-stage treatment procedures for these sculptures involving existing overall clear coat reduction by solid carbon dioxide blasting and surface preparation, a primer stage (for repaired damaged areas), intermediary clear coat, color base, a secondary application of an intermediary clear coating, and a final top clear coat.
The top clear coat for Jimenez sculptures is the most critical component for protecting the surface and colors of the artworks. PPG has made significant advancements in coating technology in the last few years with the newer coatings outperforming the older technologies by a wide margin. The coatings chosen represents PPG’s latest advance in fleet coatings technology. The premium coatings were designed to provide resistance to sunlight, extreme temperatures, abrasion, graffiti and a wide range of fluids and chemicals. In addition, PPG puts emphasis on, and is selecting coatings for, the interior surfaces of the moisture permeable glass fiber and resin bodies to significantly prolong the life of the paints and exterior clear coats on these sculptures. Applications of interior moisture barrier coatings for Luis Jiménez sculptures is an important step in the long-term preservation process.
PPG has installed at the McKay Lodge, Inc. sculpture conservation facility an advanced color products bank and computer controlled weighing and mixing station for precision matching of original colors, including pearlescents, in small touch-up batches, in addition to color matching instrumentation, specialized spray equipment and more. The company has created a large spray booth just for refinishing of large works by this artist. In short, the company has a facility, experience, and consulting expertise to provide the best care for the works by this artist today.
An important aspect of the treatments developed by PPG and McKay Lodge Conservation for all Luis Jiménez outdoor sculptures is that they not only address localized areas of damage or deterioration. In these treatments the lower quality clear coats of the past are reduced as far as possible overall by skillful solid carbon dioxide blasting and replaced with applications of successive leading coatings in the new PPG product line. This means that future failures of old clear coatings, original paints and the resin/glass fiber body are all protected to the current technically optimum degree with new durable, protective coatings having the highest ultraviolet light stability and protection for layers below. These treatments importantly provide an overall clear coat replacement.
All conservation treatments of works by Luis Jiménez at the McKay Lodge facility must pass the approval of the executive director of the Luis A. Jiménez Jr. Estate. Though she has to travel far from her home in New Mexico, her visits and involvement are invited, compensated, and encouraged due to their importance in maintaining quality and consistency in the preservation of this artist’s legacy.
Recently, McKay Lodge, Inc. conservators have completed the restoration and re-installed, Jiménez’s monumental VAQUERO outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. They have also recently completed the restoration of the artist’s EAGLE for the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland, Kansas, and they are now busy in work on Jiménez’s FIESTA-JARABE from the border station with Mexico at Otay Mesa, California for the U.S government’s General Services Administration (GSA).
They are also getting ready for the start on their largest Jiménez sculpture restoration project to-date: SODBUSTER from The Plains Museum of Fargo, North Dakota. In addition, fundraising is still in progress for their work on a Jiménez sculpture from the Las Vegas airport, and they have completed a condition study of the FIRE FIGHTERS MEMORIAL in Cleveland, Ohio and offered a treatment plan.