Oklahoma Land Run Monument

In November 2018 we had the privilege and tall task of providing conservation and maintenance for one of Oklahoma’s icons. The Oklahoma Land Run Monument is one of the world’s largest bronze sculptures and will be the largest freestanding bronze monument in the world once completed.  Currently comprised of 41 figures, the entire assemblage also features dozens of horses, wagons, carts, a dog, rabbit, chest, and cannon all spread throughout the Bricktown River Walk Park.  The monument commemorates the Land Run of April 22, 1889 - the birth date of Oklahoma City - when a cannon shot sent 50,000 people rushing in to claim free land in central Oklahoma Territory. The monument is divided in two major groups split on either side of the canal.  The total span of these combined sculptural groups is over 110+ yards with a width of 30+ yards each piece created by the brilliant sculptor Paul Moore.

It’s one thing to simply view the statues, but another to view them under the lens that each inch of bronze needs to be cleaned, treated, waxed and buffed. Day 1 on the project was kinda like mile #1 of a marathon when it feels physically like mile #20 - however the thrill of the expanse of work and difference we were able to see in the moment definitely propelled us onward. I’m proud to have been a part of this maintenance. OKC is a great city with great people and I highly recommend a visit. Until next time!

WWI monument restoration - South Kingstown, Rhode Island

Installed in 1932, the war memorial is a central fixture to the wonderful town of Wakefield (technically South Kingstown) Rhode Island. The monument consists of a tiered concrete base, 3 large bronze plaques, decorative bronze stars, bronze eagles and urn, and a 55’ flag pole. Each element required significant conservation efforts to reverse the decades of neglect and degradation. This was a particularly fun project because we were able to exercise distinctly different skill sets to bring about a substantial restoration - Concrete Restoration, bronze refinishing and re-patination, painting, and coating application. The results were striking and we were all thrilled. This part of Rhode Island is a gem!

Historic Franklin Cemetery

In the fall of 2017, SAC successfully carried out the first major conservation effort ever undertaken at the Historic Franklin City Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee.  25 grave markers were given extensive treatment to re-build crumbled areas, stabilize friable stone, re-join fractured /misaligned areas, and clean heavy biological growth from the marble and limestone.  There are many cemeteries throughout the country from this era (late 1700's - late 1800's) which due to neglect have fallen into complete disrepair.  Programs and grants which support historic preservation and conservation are critical in maintaining the bridges to our heritage.    It was an honor for our team to work on this project in the great city of Franklin, TN.  Hopefully the first of many more steps to complete the necessary work.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building

Year 2 of our annual work at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA was focussed on the Barnard Statuary: two sculpture groups- North Group (The Unbroken Law) and the South Group (The Burden of Life: The broken Law) flanking the main entrance of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building since their installation in 1911.  The white Carrara marble statuary groups were designed by George Grey Barnard and crafted by the Piccirilli Brothers from 1909-1910. This iconic artwork has a long history of restoration and conservation which has A long history of conservation and restoration has informed this iconic artwork over the past century and we are happy to have had the chance to add our handiwork.   

Juneau Federal Building Project

SAC completed phase 1 of restoration of the exterior bronze panels of the Juneau Federal Building during May 2-12, 2017.  Brutal work and weather, but proud of what we were able to accomplish.  Juneau is incredible - great people and amazing natural beauty everywhere you look.  Looking forward to heading back up to the great state of Alaska to finish phase 2

Albert Sidney Johnston Tomb Restoration

This past May, a team for Smith Art Conservation flew to Austin, Texas to restore the tomb of General Albert Sidney Johnston at the Texas State Cemetery. Considered one of the most significant Confederate Generals of the Civil War, he was killed at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862. Johnston's remains - originally interred in New Orleans, LA - were moved and reinterred at the Texas State Cemetery in 1867 after the Texas State Legislature passed a joint resolution calling for him to be honored by the state. Forty years later, this monument and sculpture were designed and erected by Elisabet Ney to mark Johnston's grave.

Competing with inclement weather, humidity & heat, lead paint, and a vast supply of mosquitoes, the team removed extensive corrosion & failing paint, cleaned the structure, and applied a new layer of paint to bring the monument back to its intended appearance.

The song in this Time-lapse is Bury Me Deep by Ivan & Alyosha. Time-lapse created by Taylor Woods.

Recommended viewing at 1080p HD.

Andrew Smith
'Solar III' by Edgar Britton

In April, Smith Art Conservation flew to Denver, Colorado to restore Edgar Britton's Solar III. Originally installed in 1976 at Littleton's Gallup Gardens, the sculpture has deteriorated significantly due to extreme weathering and water trapped throughout the structure. We exposed and removed the many weakened mortar joints and reinforced the crumbling foundation. Once we completed those tasks, a local firm finished the restoration by applying an entirely new marble stucco (that process is not documented by the timelapse).

We luckily finished our work just as it began snowing for 3 days.

The song in this Time-lapse is My Number by Foals. Time-lapse created by Taylor Woods.

Recommended viewing at 1080p HD.

Andrew Smith
Edgar Britton in the Snow

Thursday Afternoon

Saturday Afternoon

Usually we're pretty fortunate with good weather on our work throughout the country, but every once in a while a fluke storm will catch us by surprise.  Our work in Littleton, CO restoring Edgar Britton's Solar III sculpture from 1976 featured the complex work of structural reinforcement / rehabilitation and an entirely new marble stucco coating applied.  The 12" of snow wasn't necessarily ideal in the aspect of masonry conservation... Hoping for better weather next time we're in the state of Colorado!

Andrew Smith
Frank Lloyd Wright in Glencoe 2013-2015

2015 marked the centennial of Ravine Bluffs, a neighborhood development conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright. Located in the village of Glencoe, Illinois, Ravine Bluffs features several homes built by Wright including three distinctive concrete structures at the entrance points of the neighborhood.  These concrete structures showcase quintessential Wright design characteristics while maintaining their elegant function as planters and sculptural monuments.  Over the course of 100 years, environmental conditions, and age had taken their toll requiring a major act of conservation and restoration to return them to their intended appearance and preserve them for generations to come.  

We were proud to work on these important pieces spanning three consecutive summers.  

The song in this time-lapse is Time to Run by Lord Huron. Time-lapse video recorded and edited by Taylor Woods gives a window into our experience.

Recommended viewing at 1080p HD.

Andrew Smith
Smith Art Conservation Enters Six-Year Contract with the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee

In 1902, Pennsylvania-born artist, George Grey Barnard was awarded the commission to create two sculptural groups that would be installed at the main entrance of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.  After developing the initial design, Barnard left for France to begin creating the 27 heroic-scaled figures that make up the two groups.  Carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, two seven ton blocks of Cararra marble were used in the task taking over a decade to complete.  In 1911, Barnard came to Harrisburg to supervise the installation of the statue groups where they unveiled five years after the Capitol was dedicated.  The Barnard Statuary groups have exhibited problems from the time of their completion resulting in several procedures and restorations over the years.

In September 2015, Smith Art Conservation was awarded the contract to perform conservation and maintenance of these important sculptures for the next six years.  In addition to the Barnard Statuary, SAC was also awarded the contract to maintain the Mexican War Monument - erected in 1868 - to commemorate the citizens who lost their lives during the war with Mexico (1846-48).

We are honored to contribute our craftsmanship to these significant works.

Barnard Statuary

Mexican War Monument

Andrew Smith
Restoration of Thomas Francis Meagher Statue, Montana State Capitol Grounds

This Fall (Sept/Oct 2014) we had the honor of being able to restore the iconic statue of Thomas Francis Meagher located in front of Montana's beautiful Capitol building.  Our work included corrosion staining removal, bronze patina correction, coating application, mortar pointing, granite consolidation, and repairs to the plaques.  Montana in the fall is a grab bag of weather and we experienced temperatures between 26 and 61, the first snow of the season proved to make work challenging during one of the days.  Governor Steve Bullock was kind enough to meet us and applaud us on our work- definitely a highlight of the trip.  Below are some photos of the project:

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Before Restoration

Before Restoration

During Restoration

SAC team with Governor Steve Bullock

Andrew Smith