September 2, 2015

From Super Bowl Trophies to Modern Art: A Look at Cleveland's ICA-Art Conservation

The facade of ICA-Art Conservation’s office in the Vitrolite Building.

The Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine features a story on the conservation and restoration of the King Sculpture Court ceiling and clerestory at Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum. The museum chose Cleveland-based ICA-Art Conservation to lead this project, which seemed only fitting.

In 1952, six Midwestern museums, including the Allen, founded ICA as a nonprofit, and during the 1980s and ‘90s it was housed in the museum’s Postmodern wing. ICA moved to the historic Vitrolite building in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood in 2003, where it conserves and restores paintings, paper, textiles, and objects, primarily for Midwestern clients.

ICA’s Andrea Chevalier (left) and Wendy Partridge (right) at work on the ceiling of the King Sculpture Court in Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum.

When I meet ICA’s senior paintings conservator Andrea Chevalier there, she accompanies me through the white, light-filled workspace and introduces me to some of the conservators. We look at samples of the work they do: an early Roy Lichtenstein from the 1950s, with flaking paint; a sculpture by Viktor Schreckengost, which will be resurfaced with new gold leaf and chrome layers before returning to its perch at Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport; tarnished Super Bowl trophies from the Pro Football Hall of Fame; a rolled-up, cracked WPA mural from a closed local high school.

But of all ICA’s projects, the King Sculpture Court restoration (which opens this month) is by far the largest, in terms of both square footage and time. “Our part of it was eight or nine months,” says Chevalier. “That’s the longest we’ve worked onsite, since I’ve been here.”

ICA staffers toiling over one of the King Sculpture Court’s clerestory panels.

See Preservation magazine’s Fall issue (out in October) for the full story on this project.

Author Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer who frequently covers theater for NPR. He is a 1980 graduate of Oberlin College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

By: Jeff Lunden

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