Conservation

Since the beginning of 2018, di Rosa has undergone an immense project of conserving the collection that was affected by the October 2017 wildfires in Northern California. We are excited to have contracted SF Art Conservation to conserve all the artworks affected including those in the Residence Gallery and administrative offices, and the outdoor sculpture. This project is expected to continue throughout 2018. We invite you to follow our progress as our collection receives treatment.

Updates are provided by Collection Manager/Registrar Robin Bernhard


The selected paint color: “Ulalu red” from Tnemec

Scaffolding being installed around Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) by Extreme Scaffolding.

Scaffolding being installed around Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) by Extreme Scaffolding.

Surface preparation included two days of cross sanding all surface areas of the sculpture to roughen. Bare and corroded areas were roughly sanded and then finely sanded to insure adhesion of the paint.

Spot primer is green colored and applied to all bare or corroded areas, welds, voids, nuts bolts, and sharp edges. It was also recommended to apply this coating to all of the areas that receive the most UV and were chalking.

The painting crew from SF Art Conservation working on the final primer coating. This layer is rust colored and is being applied to the entire surface of the sculpture to prepare it for the vibrant topcoat.


June 11, 2018

Many of the works that di Rosa’s founder Rene di Rosa collected were purchased from artists before they had achieved much recognition, including sculptor Mark di Suvero (b. 1933). Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) was originally titled Erk Thru Able Last and was in the collection of Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York, before it was acquired for the di Rosa Collection. We are fortunate to have such an iconic di Suvero work in our outdoor sculpture collection.

We have been monitoring the work for many years and have documented areas of fading, chalking, corrosion, and in some cases, paint loss. The painted steel sculpture, which sits at the top of a hill overlooking the Sculpture Meadow, was created in 1987. Since then, it has never been fully repainted. This year, we made it a priority to restore the surface of sculpture to its original condition and it has taken many months of planning and discussion.

We worked closely with the artist’s studio on the selection of the color, which they heavily researched since its vibrancy is the most critical factor for the artist. Because the sculpture lives outdoors, it was important to discuss how the red paint would react to years of extreme UV exposure (some reds that the di Suvero Foundation had used in the past had a tendency to fade and turn pink or brown). The artist selected the color “Ulalu red” from Tnemec, which he feels will retain the proper vibrancy for years to come.

Once the color was approved by the Foundation we were able to proceed with the preparations for the enormous task of repainting the three-story sculpture. A major component of this was to install a secure scaffold, shown here. Come see the final paint results on our Outdoor Sculpture Tour!

Special thanks to SF Art Conservation, Mark di Suvero Foundation, and Extreme Scaffolding. Their expertise was invaluable to completing all aspects of this project.


Placement of Ray Beldner’s Nature Remains (1993) in the Sculpture Meadow

Ray Beldner’s Nature Remains (1993) being restored by SF Art Conservation

Documentation of a fallen component of Ray Beldner’s Nature Remains (1993)

Consideration needs to be given to where and how the mounts are supported or secured to the object. Here, Atthowe Fine Art Services technicians place and attach the custom-designed mount into the concrete pad for Beldner’s work.

Installing a custom-made clip to hold the work in place

Custom-made, inconspicuous clip painted and positioned inside the sculpture to hold the work and insure its position


May 21, 2018

Many of the objects in di Rosa’s permanent collection require support to ensure that they are safely displayed. Custom-made mounts serve a variety of practical and aesthetic needs such as:

-Preventing objects from moving or falling over
-Supporting fragile or weak objects
-Allowing for objects to hang on a wall
-Securing objects against theft

To prepare for the recent relaunch of our popular Outdoor Sculpture Tour, di Rosa has been very busy cleaning, restoring, and reinstalling works in our Sculpture Meadow in collaboration with Atthowe Fine Art Services and SF Art Conservation.

Recently, Ray Beldner’s Nature Remains (1993) was removed and taken offsite to be rebuilt and have mounts designed for it. The sculpture had taken several falls over the years and was prone to blowing over in high gusts of winds which compromised the structure and resulted in broken and bent components.

Designing mounts requires careful consideration, with the goal for them to be as visually unobtrusive as possible, and in effect, invisible to the viewer. For this project, it was critical that the teams involved worked together to balance the artist’s intent, installation requirements, and conservation needs with the design of mounts that would effectively secure the work and counter harsh environmental conditions.

While this was an intensive collaborative project, a very special thank you goes to Atthowe Fine Art Services who not only conceived the design of the mounts but also built the mounts and reinstalled the work onsite. Atthowe has been instrumental in the process of moving logistics and general coordination in support of di Rosa’s stewardship of the permanent collection.


May 3, 2018

SF Art Conservation is power washing the biological growth off the surface of Charles Ginnevar’s Crab (1982). Notice the extreme difference from the right side of the work to the cleaned left side.

Mike, Object Conservator from SF Art Conservation, is removing a thick layer of surface dirt, biological growth, and bird droppings to reveal the bright red surface before the work is repainted next month.

As with all art, preventive care is the best defense for outdoor sculptures. A good annual cleaning, including inspections and condition documentation, will keep the sculpture looking its best between any major treatments.

Maintaining di Rosa’s Sculpture Meadow has its own set of challenges: the works are large-scale and installed in areas that are challenging to access with equipment and running water, so routine maintenance takes quite a bit of planning. In addition, exposure to extreme weather conditions causes degradation to occur much quicker than for most other art objects. These factors make conservation frequently necessary and time consuming.

Since April, SF Art Conservation has been on site in the Sculpture Meadow performing cleanings with a power washer to remove biological growth, animal droppings, and ash from the October 2017 wildfires. After their washing, the works are reevaluated for any additional treatment that is necessary, like applying a barrier coat to protect and maintain the original surface. The transparent coatings are applied to the surface of the sculpture and can be regularly replaced when needed. Annual power washing and applications of wax are an effective step to prolonging the surface as repainting is very expensive. Speaking of repainting, we will be resurfacing Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) in May (see photos and video of the work being cleaned).

Look for our conservation efforts to continue in the Sculpture Meadow, as well as on the upper property leading to Milliken Peak (which will remain closed through 2018). You can follow our progress by signing up for our Outdoor Sculpture Tour which visits the Sculpture Meadow, and checking back here for updates!

Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) before cleaning


Mark di Suvero’s For Veronica (1987) after cleaning



April 20, 2018

Carlos Villa’s Third Coat (1983) is a large cloak constructed from cloth, canvas, taffeta, acrylic paint, feathers, bone, and hair. Art handlers designed a special travel frame to keep the piece suspended and secured in the crate to protect the delicate materials.

Squeak Carnwath’s Cup Form (1981), left, and Carlos Villa’s Bedspread (1984), right, are packed in specially designed travel frames in the Residence Gallery.

Part of the strategy in removing all of the artworks from the Residence Gallery (to send offsite for cleaning and conservation) was to reserve the most difficult objects for last. These were a combination of heavy, large, irregularly sized, and delicate works and they all required custom containers to be built and/or specialized equipment to move them.

In total 15 travel frames and 5 custom palettes, all designed by fine arts handling professionals, were brought on site for transporting the large works.

Travel frames are open-faced pine crates with protective panels of poly wrap secured around the wood to act as barrier for environmental elements like dust. Foam bumpers are often strategically added on the inside to account for shock resistance or to keep the surface of the object from coming in contact with any packing material.

Each object was packed according to its material and received a unique treatment based on its needs. See photos for a closer look!


April 6, 2018

Stephen Kaltenbach’s Matter Contemplates Spirit (2001) in the process of being moved offsite for conservation.

The Lead Rigger, right, assesses the balance of David Best’s The Dream of Poland (1989) sculpture.

The full-size horse element of David Best’s The Dream of Poland (1989) is extremely delicate—the edges are paper thin—and therefore required special packing to be designed to move the work and decrease handling of the object.

David Best’s The Dream of Poland (1989) getting carefully loaded into the truck to be delivered to the conservation studio.

Rigging large-scale works requires careful calculation, heavy duty equipment, and a Lead Rigger who has experience assessing safety, weight, load, and balance of the work and equipment.

Stephen Kaltenbach’s glazed ceramic and resin sculpture Matter Contemplates Spirit (2001) has been installed outside the entrance of the Residence Gallery for many years and was in need of conservation to restore its original patina. Weighing around 1,000 pounds, the work was lifted using a Genie Superlift designed for this very purpose. The green slings shown here—positioned in a basket-like configuration and padded to prevent abrasion to the surface—create a balanced lift by distributing the weight of the object when moving it. The sculpture was loaded onto the lift gate of a truck and blanket-wrapped to protect it during travel to our offsite storage, where its conservation will take place.

Moving David Best’s The Dream of Poland (1989) from its location in the cellar of the Residence Gallery also required specialized care. The mixed media work includes a full-sized horse sculpture, a human-scale figure, and a large carriage filled with loose gravel and broken glass. To move it, the large components were carefully separated, loaded onto palettes, and meticulously packed to protect their surfaces during travel to the offsite conservation studio.


March 23, 2018

Alan Shepp’s Untitled (detail), a memorial to Rene di Rosa, before treatment.

The underside of Rene’s bronze hat before treatment. Notice the brown patina color inside, which had been exposed to minimal weathering elements, compared to the green coloration of the outside (in the image above), which is corrosion caused by moisture.

Alan Shepp’s Untitled (detail), a memorial to Rene di Rosa, after treatment.

Alan Shepp’s Untitled (detail), a memorial to Rene di Rosa, after treatment.

Our recent conservation of di Rosa’s outdoor sculpture collection included the on-site memorial of our founder, Rene di Rosa, by Alan Shepp. Following its care, a member of our facilities team asked “Why is Rene’s hat brown now? Rene always wore a green hat!” This led to a preservation discussion—how do you decide what color the surface of a sculpture should or should not be?

Shepp’s Untitled, a memorial to Rene di Rosa, is shown here before and after treatment. The work is composed of large, dark grey granite which is polished and contains an etched inscription on the front. A bronze baseball hat, housed in a recessed shelf with a bronze frame, reads “di Rosa, Preserve Art and Nature,” just like the hat Rene used to wear. The bronze elements had blue corrosion and the brim of the hat has rust colored stains due to water.

When SF Art Conservation removed the hat and inspected the underside, it was apparent that the patina of the bronze hat should be brown and not green. The green coloration is actually corrosion on the surface caused by moisture and indicates that the bronze needs to be sealed with a microcrystalline wax so that moisture does not continue to penetrate the surface and cause a shift in color. The result of removing this corrosion is astoundingly different! We are happy to see people are noticing the micro changes in our outdoor sculpture conditions and look forward to sharing more updates like this as our conservation efforts continue.

UPDATE: 5/23/2018

Recently collection artist Alan Shepp contacted di Rosa to inform us that the patina on the hat should be green in color to reflect the green trucker’s hat Rene di Rosa was known for often wearing. SF Art Conservation will be removing the brown green wax and applying a clear dull microcrystalline to highlight the original patina. Thanks to all involved and for participating in our conservation and stewardship of the outdoor sculpture collection. We are keeping detailed records of all updates, including any new information we have received, to maintain the history of the works.


March 9, 2018

SF Art Conservation during treatment of William Wiley’s Platform (1986).

William Wiley’s Platform (1986) before treatment.

William Wiley’s Platform (1986) after treatment of washing, reduction of rust staining, wax, and inpainting.

William Wiley’s Platform (1986) after treatment of washing, reduction of rust staining, wax, and inpainting.

di Rosa’s outdoor sculpture collection is comprised of over 100 works that spread throughout the 217 acres of property. To assure professional stewardship, we record the current status and past conservation treatments of the sculptures, and assign priorities and plan actions for their conservation and maintenance.

Normally in preservation planning, works that have the highest maintenance priority are selected to be treated for issues like structural concerns, grounds management, surface losses, and long-term maintenance. By the end of the year several objects will have been cared for and the cycle continues annually. However, because of the North Bay fires in October, di Rosa has been thrusted into conserving the entire outdoor collection all at once. With the help of SF Art Conservation, we are moving through one section of the property at a time.

In February we started our conservation efforts on the sculptures surrounding the courtyard, given their prominent visibility to visitors. Since the works live outside, they are exposed to a wide range of harsh environmental conditions, including excessive amounts of light, heat exposure, and acid rain, and sometimes, earthquakes. All of these factors break down the object materials, patina, and surface causing color alterations, rust staining, corrosion, losses, and excessive organic debris. In addition to cleaning the works, SF Art Conservation also treated several works using a common treatment called inpainting—the application of a thin paint layer to replace lost or damaged portions on the surface.

di Rosa mitigates these issues from occurring through annual maintenance, regular monitoring and rotation of works, and preventative measures such as raising sculptures onto a platform or putting barrier around them for protection.


February 16, 2018

di Rosa’s team and the 2D work from the Residence Gallery wrapped and ready to be transferred off-site.

di Rosa’s team and the 2D work from the Residence Gallery wrapped and ready to be transferred off-site.

The reverse side of Nancy Youdelman’s Love’s Armor (2000), before treatment, with spider debris present on surface.

A conservator points to insect frass that is embedded onto the surface of Tom Holland’s sculpture Pope Valley Moonlight #26 (1997).

A conservator peels the backing paper and points to spider egg sacks on Frank Davi Jr.’s #ss Or The Crucifixion of John Doe (1997).

During the month of January, di Rosa undertook the enormous task of packing up hundreds of objects in the Residence Gallery to be transferred to SF Art Conservation as part of our post-wildfires conservation efforts. Each work was carefully packed, relocated to off-site storage, and then transferred to conservation one box at a time. This process took more than three weeks to accomplish with a team of contracted crew members who oversaw the packing and compiled endless lists to track the movement of the artworks.

I recently visited the conservation lab to take a peek at how things were getting started. It is clear that one of the largest issues that plagued works in the Residency Gallery was insects and pests. Since most of the works have been hanging in the gallery for many years, the reverse side of the works were not only dirty but had accumulated web and debris deposits from spiders. This affects the overall condition of the work by degrading the surface and giving a lack luster appearance. After these works are conserved, it is recommended that they rotate from view frequently and are regularly cleaned in order to prevent this from occurring again!


January 19, 2018

Detail of Viola Frey’s Untitled (Grandmother Series) (1978) before treatment.

Detail of Viola Frey’s Untitled (Grandmother Series) (1978) after treatment.

In order to care for objects in our collection, I often spend considerable amounts of time observing the micro changes in surfaces and documenting the changes. Some condition issues are invisible like a scratch in a frame or loss in a surface and others are very noticeable like the extensive biological growth on the surface of most of our outdoor sculptures.

Seen here is Viola Frey’s Untitled (Grandmother Series) (1978), located in the courtyard outside of the Residence Gallery. If you look closely, the fuzzy green spots are actually thick lush moss that is growing on the surface concentrated in the creases of the sculpture. Biological growth is a reoccurring and prevalent condition issue throughout our entire outdoor sculpture collection requiring annual treatment to inhibit the growth.

You can also see what the sculpture looks like after being cleaned on site by SF Art Conservation.


January 12, 2018

SF Art Conservation’s Head Conservator, Sarah, and Assistant Conservator, Mike, cleaning Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase I (1990) outside of Gallery 2.

Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase I (1990), before treatment.

Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase I (1990), after treatment.

The first couple days of cleaning with SF Art Conservation. Head Conservator, Sarah, and Assistant Conservator, Mike, cleaned out debris, dirt, moisture, and insects from the inside of the bottles of Mildred Howard’s Memory Garden Phase I (1990), installed outside of Gallery 2. This effort took several days as they needed to remove and re-adhere the bottle stops, vacuum, and remove mineral deposits that had accumulated on the surface of the glass. The result is stunningly clear glass bottles illuminated by the sunlight!