Arizona Artbeat: Heard Museum Art Restoration

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See the restoration of large pieces of art going on at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Artbeat highlights an art restoration project, imagine your job is to give a facelift to a 3,000-pound bear, Allysa Adams caught up with a team doing that at the heard museum.

Allysa Adams: Growing old can be tough. If you spend your days and nights out in the elements, it's even tougher.

Ann Marshall: She lived outside in Beverly Hills by a swimming pool, and in the course of her life there, she collected some general city dirt.

Allysa Adams: In her short life, Navajo water girl has graced viewers with her stoic dignity. Now, she's getting a little tlc.

Ann Marshall: She was in our collection storage area. And as I said, we wanted to get her out, but this was the chance to do it.

Allysa Adams: Art conservator Ron Harvey cleaned her up and now this sculpture has a prominent place, greeting visitors to the heard museum.

Ann Marshall: She kind of glows, a beautiful stone, a beautiful limestone and she just glows.

Allysa Adams: All over the heard, sculptures are being repaired, waxed, cleaned, and restored to their former glory, thanks to a grant from Bank of America.

Ann Marshall: Now, we have got a chance to put out these new pieces, and it's so exciting.

Allysa Adams: The money, part of the bank's global art conservation project, allows the heard to do significant work on eight sculptures. Ron is working on the Zen Bear.

Ron Harvey: For the last six years and I have said we need to address this piece because we're losing material, and that's not good conservation, and it hasn't affected the aesthetics of the piece, but it could affect, in the long-term, the structural integrity of the piece.

Ron Harvey: It has lost some of the steel that was, in fact --

Allysa Adams: They'll replace the corroded material with something more amenable to Arizona's weather but first, they have to lift this 3,000-pound animal. There is always maintenance work at a museum. Once entrusted with a piece of art, the museum is obligated to care for it. But there is a difference between maintenance and repair and treatment.

Ron Harvey: So treatment is, it's -- conservation terms, it's a laying on of hands where we're doing some, some intervention that will make the piece more, either more stable, more complete, esthetically, bring it back to what it once was. And rectify some of the effects of age or environment.

Ann Marshall: We managed the last few years but we have had this list of things either that never saw the light of day at the heard or had problems that really were not terribly obvious, but were growing concerns.

Allysa Adams: Like a bear unsteady on its feet. And since these pieces are getting their lift and is tucks while on view to the public the museum gets to throw a little education in with the restoration.

Ann Marshall: It's important when we have visitors who, themselves, own sculptures, to learn about some of the issues with caring for sculpture.

Allysa Adams: The sculptures that are at the heard all have their own history, hero personality, their only messages about heritage. And now, they get to do their job looking their very best.

Ted Simons: Bank of America's art conservation project has helped museums in 28 different countries over the past five years with folks from Van Gogh, Stewart Davis and many more, Friday on Arizona Horizon, it's the Journalists' Roundtable, and we'll have more on Congress and Matt Salmon's surprise decision to not run for re-election, and the state Senate says an illegal immigration bill yes, but no you, to two others, and that's on the Journalists' Roundtable. That is it for now, and I am Ted Simons, thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS. Members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Ann Marshall: Director/Curator of Heard Museum; Ron Harvey: Art Conservator

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