What Began as an Installation Became a Restoration
Uh Oh, Something's Missing!
Arts Management Services LLC (AMS) installed a sculpture from the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art.
1 week installation in 1.5 minutes!
It's a sculpture by the environmental artist and architect Michael Singer entitled Ritual Series 1990 now on exhibit through February 19, 2017.
It's the centerpiece of a group exhibition titled 'Shaping Space,' which also includes works by Richard Serra, Mel Edwards, and Louise Nevelson. To learn more about this exhibition, visit the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA).
During the installation I discovered that a few pieces were missing much to the chagrin of the artist and museum staff. After an extensive search the pieces were not found. Michael Singer determined that the sculpture looked fine to exhibit, but that the missing pieces should be restored.
So WCMA commissioned AMS to restore the missing pieces. My son William joined me and we completed the project and replaced the missing pieces on February 7.
Arts Management Services assisted in the original fabrication of this sculpture in the early '90's.
- Related Projects:
- Restoration in Istanbul
- Art Restoration in Manila
- Conservation of the Buddha
- Sculpture Restoration in London
- Sculpture Installation in Athens
- Restoration at the Denver International Airport
Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts added this sculpture to their permanent collection as a gift from an alumnus and closest friend of the artist, Dr. William Fishkind.
About the Sculpture
Ritual Series, 1990 consists of wood, granite, field stone, copper and bronze measuring 230″ x 230″ x 75″ tall.
The wood has a gorgeous texture created by sand-blasting 2″ thick rough-cut pine, harvested from the woods nearby Michael's Vermont studio by a local mill. After sand-blasting, the large and heavy planks were carefully singed to create an ancient look. The wood is not coated and easily bruised so handling is careful with gloves at all times. Likewise packing and storage is done with special care to avoid bruising or scratching the soft wood.
Field stone was collected from around the artists 100-acre property in the mountains of southern Vermont. Mr. Singer would assemble a group of us from his studio and line us up behind him in a single row. We would then follow him all over his fields like ducklings. He would point to a rock and one of us would pick it up and carry it. Most were too heavy to carry more than one. When we all had one we would load them on his pickup truck and transport them to be cut flat on one end.
Holes were drilled into the planks. These holes refer to the aboriginal maritime culture of the Chumash who lived along the coast of what is now California. They created their canoes by lashing planks together which they referred to as Tomol, which was the original name of this artwork when first exhibited outdoors in a dry riverbed of the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.
Another interesting feature is the 'barrewood' and the barrewood patterns reflected in some of the bronze elements. Barrewood is a term used by the artist because these distinct patterns are created by huge saw blades that cut thru granite and slightly into 2 x 4 planks that line and protect the floor. Michael's stone cutters are located in Barre, Vermont.
One of the secrets of this artist's work is the precise degree of vertical plumb and horizontal level. Most good carpenters notice when something is off-level by anywhere from an 1/8″ to 1/4." Incredibly, Mr. Singer notices pieces that are off-level by only 1/32″! This precision creates a subliminal effect of calm and quiet, making the heaviness of stone, metal and thick wood seem light, floating, contemplative, even otherworldly. This stunning effect can be felt in this and many of his other sculptures.
Many of the granite and bronze pieces are heavy and the long and thick pine planks bulky, needing 2 to handle and place precisely according to the instructions.
Our team devised an instructional system with carefully marked photographs whereby intricate sculpture such as this can be assembled and disassembled by museum and gallery preparators.
This art installation required two people five days to install.
This is only the second showing of this sculpture at Williams since it's purchase and exhibition in 1990. The current exhibition notes this about the artist and this work:
In 1971, Michael Singer fled New York City and settled in rural Vermont, where he found solace and renewed inspiration in nature. Comprised of sculptures and landwork, much of Singer's body of work exists outside of traditional art spaces. In his architectural designs, gardens indoor and outdoor artworks, and infrastructure projects, he consistently endeavors to produce ecologically sustainable objects and spaces that draw inspiration from their particular environment. This sculpture is part of Singer's ongoing Ritual Series, a collection of indoor installations crafted using an array of natural materials. Curved wooden beams enclose a labyrinthine interior of stone, metal, and wooden forms. For Singer, this central sanctum is akin to an inner realm - a sacred space from which to contemplate one's place in the natural world.
Braden Bills says
I recently got a sculpture that I think might be worth a lot. The only problem with it is that it’s a little run down. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional to restore it like this!
Bob Hannum says
Thanks for the comment. Be careful about ‘restoring’ art because just like antiques, art often loses value when ‘restored!’