Monday, January 31, 2011

Mural Installation: John Bassett Moore School

Each project is unique, special and an opportunity to learn about Art. It's a privilege to be involved in responding to the needs of individual pieces, to be in a position to design the total scope of installing Art, especially as scale and difficulty increases. How and where Art fits is an early question and I'm always rejuvenated in that discussion.

The mural above is by Willard Borow, painted in the 1940's, installed in the theater of the John Bassett Moore Intermediate School in Smyrna, Delaware. This is one of two murals installed, both 14' (h) x 10' (w). I was asked to design and fabricate the hanging hardware and be responsible for the installation method. This was special because it came from a client I had done work for years earlier. This was the second part of a greater project. I had previously led the team that de-installed these two murals, among others, including a larger 60' (l) mural in three parts that hung 30' (h) over the theater stage. Photo below.

These murals had been installed for decades in the theater and were badly in need of conservation. Because of limited funds, the mural above the stage was the priority. The two Borow paintings were to be kept in storage until a later date. It was a great surprise to receive the call asking if I would consider finishing the project. How the school found me again was a timely reminder of Art Handling as a personal return business. The school had called the company I had previously worked for and understanding I was no longer employed there they contacted me directly.

The conservation of the Borow paintings were finally undertaken under the guidance of the University of Delaware, Art Conservation Dept. Since the murals could not fit through doors, they were brought into the Theater rolled and re-stretched on the stage floor. Site restrictions included a sloped theater floor, fixed chair rows and 32" aisles. The bottom of the murals were required to be hung above child hand height, placing the top of the murals above 18' (h). Because of the thin aisle width everything was tight. The face of the scaffold was approx. 12" from the wall, just enough room to carry the murals between the wall and scaffold, position the lift to carry the mural to the exact install height and have reasonable reach for tools and hands.

Art in venues outside urban centers, Museums, galleries, auction houses and private collections is a great reminder of their original intention. Sometimes people in the community just love it.