Andrea Chevalier is leading art conservation efforts across Northeast Ohio.
Her group, Intermuseum Conservation Association – Art Conservation, last year restored the Cleveland Fire Fighters Memorial, a $50,000 project that required repair work to fix cracks in the sculpture outside FirstEnergy Stadium.
The association also led efforts five years ago to restore the Free Stamp in downtown Cleveland’s Willard Park and in 2017 staff restored astronaut Neil Armstrong’s F5D Skylancer Plane, which he flew during his tenure as a NASA pilot.
Chevalier, the director of Conservation and head of Paintings Conservation, discussed the association’s local and regional artwork conservation efforts May 14 at the Westlake Porter Public Library.
Chevalier gave a brief technical overview of ICA’s methodology in restoring artifacts and showcased multiple case studies of regional relics that were successfully restored from their previous debilitated states.
The organization was established in 1952 and is the nation’s first nonprofit regional art conservation center, she said. The ICA has seven conservators on staff. Its funding comes from individuals, corporations, and foundations, including The Callahan Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.
While the Cleveland-based ICA undertakes projects nationally and globally, its focus tends to be regional. The ICA’s expertise and conservation services lends to the restoration of paintings, architectural surfaces, three-dimensional objects, paper-based materials and textiles across modernity and antiquity.
Designed by the late artist Luis Jimenez, the fiberglass Fire Fighters Memorial depicts two firefighters aiming their hoses at flames, and includes the names of 77 firefighters killed or fatally injured in the line of duty since 1869. The memorial was rededicated on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, during the annual service of remembering the fallen.
The Free Stamp, designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, received a $96,000 facelift funded by BP America. ICA oversaw the cleaning and treating of the sculpture for rust and peeling paint.
Armstrong flew the F5D Skylancer Plane to study the X-20 Dyna-Soar (Dynamic Soaring) approaches and abort maneuvers. The plane’s exterior and cockpit were restored independently, and are displayed separately at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio.
The ICA also recently restored the fabric of the 36-Star David Nevin Murray flag, which flew on Capitol Square in Columbus in 1865 as part of President Abraham Lincoln’s repose at the Statehouse. The flag was originally given to David Nevin Murray of Portsmouth, Ohio, in gratitude for allowing his foundry to manufacture cannon balls for the Union Army during the Civil War. Murray’s family donated the flag in 2016 to the Ohio History Connection. The ICA subsequently performed fabric restoration efforts on the artifact.
"The flag was wrinkled because it was stored folded up and had stitching that was becoming unraveled,” Chevalier said. “The linen stars were in especially poor shape because they were extremely dirty."
On April 29, the Ohio Statehouse commemorated the 154th anniversary of the repose of Lincoln, during which the Murray flag was displayed. It was later returned for further conservation work.
The ICA is the oldest not-for-profit regional art conservation center in the United States. Founded in 1952 and previously located on the campus of Oberlin College, the organization relocated to a newly renovated facility at 2915 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland in 2003.
The Westlake-Westshore Arts Council, which sponsored Chevalier’s lecture, is a local organization dedicated to expanding and enhancing interaction with the arts across the Westshore. Many of the organization’s events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit w-wac.org/.