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

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!