December 8, 2010


This is an overview of the first project i participated in at the center in Spring of 2008.  I was part of a class that was held at the center and a few of us became interested in rehabbing the room on the 3rd floor (see right.)  In order to promote better use of this space, we wrote a proposal for the restoration of this room to later host the center's historical art archive.  We were able to meet and get advice from a preservation expert and other professionals who had recently forgone similar projects.  After months of research and planning (and feeling completely overwhelmed), our proposal was approved and we received funding.  So, to get started we emptied the room.  You can see the effects of the water damage (pictured ---->). 

We temporarily put everything in the adjacent room. (And this is only half of the stuff that was in there.)  Separating and stacking the artwork vertically was an improvement in itself.  Now, most of these artworks were either left from previous art shows, classes, or were excess sales gallery pieces.  However, yes- we did find a few important works of art that were nestled amongst the piles.  (And a trombone!)  We were sorting things as we could, but technically a better way of doing something like this is cataloging everything.  However, the director (and my current boss) was able to help us make decisions on the keep/toss/oh crap lets put this valuable piece of art somewhere safer.

 <--- In order to make sure the building retained it's landmark status we kept a continual photo documention. The trim and window treatments were of the New Bauhaus design, so i had to label and catalouge all these pieces of the wall.  (I even made a nice little diagram to go with it.) The idea is that as long as we kept the pieces and documented their placement, that someone could reinstall/recreate it later if necessary.

Demolition.  Yes, it's fun... for about the first 15 minutes.  We had to be careful enough to save the important pieces of trim, and forceful enough to take down loads of plaster and lath.  After a few hours of tearing down walls, scooping up bags of plaster, carrying it down two flights of stairs, bundleing up lath and carrying THAT down two flights of stairs... well, ya get tired.

NOT to mention the squirrel fiasco.  There were also cases of black boogers and crazy hair nests of disgusting proportions that occurred.  (Yes we were taking precautions by wearing the face masks and i'm mostly certain there was no asbestos... and that we don't have lead poisoning from old paint...)  

We had to build one of the walls out 1/4" and tetris pieces of insulation around several obstacles.  (Of course nothing is square and all the studs are oddly spaced- complications of an old building.)  We even installed a covering of plastic for moisture resistance.

 After months of preparation, hours of hard work, and working in scorching +85 degree weather with no A/C... the room was completed.  Drywall and all!  (Plus some handy trim work, and crazy gap caulking.)  This is a project nonchalantly gets mentioned as part of our tour of the building.  It opens the conversation about how the center is expanding it's collaborative efforts with other schools and organizations.  It marks the beginning of my involvement (which later lead to employment) with this place and helped solidify my interests in working with non-profits and the communities they serve.  (Re)store was an atypical way for me to be introduced to the center, and brought up a lot of questions about what "art" can be.  At the conclusion to the project, the only answer i had to anything was that "community" is not just a physical and local entity, but rather an expansive act of adoption and ownership.