And that’s all she wrote. In 1988 my father signed a lease for a small industrial loft space in Chicago’s south loop. His rent more than doubled, and he was moving to a part of town that nobody frequented. The first year he saw tenants robbed, someone shot in the building, a drug dealer running operations out of a unit, prostitutes and destitutes using the lobby and more. He was petrified. But slowly the clients came and slowly the neighborhood changed. And over the next 30 years he took his tiny business and made it thrive much as the South Loop blossomed. It was in this space that I spent sick days as a kid, weekends annoying my father, came to work for and then with him, met my future wife, designed her wedding ring, received the news that my father was dying, married, welcomed two children (and a puppy) into my life, bought a home, sold it and bought another. There are some places that by way of time become a cornerstone in one’s life, 1006 S Michigan was that for me. And so today as I saw the last box pass under the threshold I’m closing a very large chapter of my life. It’s not without some sadness and perhaps the same fear my father felt 30 years ago that I move on, hopefully to bigger and better things, just as my father did... and now I’m going to have a whisky and shed a few tears.
Hi everyone! So I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks both here on IG and on YouTube. It’s not because I dislike you or am leaving social media (not yet, at least.) Rather, for the past few weeks I’ve been fully engrossed in the largest project of my career; I’m moving. This past December, after a nearly year-long search I purchased a building to use as the home of my business. For the past several months I’ve been working with contractors to build out the space and investing some serious sweat equity. I’ve been working during the day at my studio and then changing clothes and mindsets and working evenings and weekends at the new building. And that brings us to this past week and the breakdown and packing of my current space. Nearly 350 pieces of artwork, materials, tools, equipment and accumulated junk had to be sorted and packed. It’s been intense; both physically and emotionally and I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. My father signed this lease in 1988 and for the past 31 years this has been my second home. I’ve probably spent more time here than anywhere else and leaving it scares the sh!t out of me-but that’s a whole other post. Suffice it to say, I’ll probably be absent for a few more weeks as I figure out what’s what and get settled in the new space. So thanks for being patient and I promise that this summer I’ll have some really really cool stuff to share.
Before and after of a Frank V. Dudley painting. Painted as a young man on his father’s farm before he would develop his signature style and subject matter (the Indiana dunes) you can catch hints of William Merritt Chase in the subject and perspective.
The narrated version of the last video is up...finally. The reason it took so long was that I wanted to try something different. So rather than just describing what I was doing (I mean, how much can I say “now I’m mixing paint”) I waited and kept tabs of the comments and tried to address some of the most frequently asked questions. So hopefully this provides some insight into the history of the painting and how it got to me in this state, the process of deciding what to do in consultation with my client and the big question of the ethics of such extensive retouching. Anyhow, hope you enjoy, and let me know if this format works and if I should do it again?
Hot damn, look at this gorgeous reproduction Italian traditional stretcher that just arrived for a special project in working on. Sometimes choosing a support is a matter of efficiency and economy and other times finding a period-appropriate support is key.
So it’s raining here in Chicago and I’ve got Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” on... it’s that kind of day. If you’re in the mood for a chill start, I just posted a new video. This one’s not narrated; it’s got a pretty lovely piano piece and it focuses on the retouching process from start to finish. Yes, it’s sped up like 900% but you can watch as a pretty damaged piece slowly comes together. Anyhow, I’ve got a really great few videos in process so this one should hold you over for a bit...😘
One last post today before I dive into paperwork (the other tunnel of lightning from hell😜). Sometimes during the cleaning process you come across surprises. In this case someone didn’t approve of the young man in the foreground’s position so they changed it. I’ll agree that the modified version makes him look less absurd but it’s not up to the conservator to make editorial decisions about the artwork; we’re not the artists. So with the overpainting removed we can see the artist’s original work and infer that maybe they wanted the young suitor to look like a buffoon... I mean, isn’t that part and parcel to being in love? Anyhow, go forth and enjoy your weekend and may you all be so in love that you don’t care if you look ridiculous! 😘
Sigh. No worries though, we’ll get it taken care of.
Ahh, Friday. You can never come too soon. Fridays generally mean varnishing day for me and to wit, here’s a little video of a painting I just finished receiving a varnish. This is a Regalrez UV-stable synthetic resin varnish. I’m brushing this coat on and then if necessary I’ll adjust the sheen with additional spray coats. I have to say, even though I’ve varnishes at least 10,000 paintings it never gets old seeing the colors come to life and the painting vibrate!