Case Study

Henry Grady Receives Extreme Makeover, Stops Traffic

APAL Preserves History and Conserves Atlanta’s Artistic Landscape
Bronze Sculptures Undergo Urgent Restoration Through June 17th

June 7, 2004 (Atlanta) – The Atlanta Public Arts Legacy Fund (APAL), a fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Inc., will restore the bronze memorial to Henry W. Grady, Atlanta’s famous newspaper editor and champion of southern industry and agriculture in the 1800s.  A full-scale restoration, to be implemented June 7 through June 17, will close one lane in both directions in the 100 block of Marietta Street.  The “Atlanta from the Ashes” sculpture in Woodruff Park will also be conserved during the same period.

“Since Art is an important measure of a world-class city, APAL was delighted to receive the contribution which enables us to undertake the full-scale restoration of two of Atlanta’s best known and most significant artworks,” said APAL Chairperson Louise Shaw. “Atlanta’s Olympic Legacy lives on through the public art APAL works to preserve,” said Shaw.

Both the Grady Monument, created by artist Alexander Doyle in 1929, and the “Atlanta From the Ashes” sculpture, created by artist Jim Seigler in 1969, have experienced severe deterioration and are in dire need of work.  With a $100,000 grant from an anonymous donor and support from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, APAL will save them from further damage.  The team undertaking the process will be led by nationally prominent conservators Nicholas Veloz and Patrick Kipper and coordinated by APAL’s Public Art Consultant Patricia A. Kerlin.
The public art and monuments APAL conserves is an enduring legacy of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games through the work of the former Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta (CODA).  Twenty new works combined with four historic Atlanta monuments offer Atlanta a series of permanent installations that enliven the landscape of downtown.  Many of the works have clear historic themes, from Atlanta’s railroad origins, to its major newspaper, to its post Civil War rebirth, to civil rights heroes of recent decades. Collectively, they constitute a cultural asset to be prized and preserved.  To safeguard this important part of Atlanta’s cultural heritage, APAL was established in 1997 as a fund of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

The organization is responsible for the conservation and maintenance of these 24 public artworks and monuments in Atlanta’s central city.  Title to these artworks was transferred to the City after the Olympics. APAL was established as a philanthropic mechanism to assure appropriate on-going care and to provide education and advocacy for public art in Atlanta.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is it important to clean / conserve outdoor sculpture?
Over time, weather, vandalism and neglect contribute to the deterioration and destruction of all outdoor sculpture.  These sculptures and monuments serve as symbols and memorials of the people, events and values that shape our community.  They enrich our culture and therefore our lives. The consistent maintenance and periodic conservation of these artworks preserves Atlanta’s heritage.

Who will perform the conservation?
Nicolas F. Veloz, one of the foremost sculpture conservators in the country, will perform the cleaning.  He initiated and developed both the use of ground walnut shells for cleaning outdoor sculpture and the use of an airless sprayer for the application of protective coatings of outdoor sculptures.  Patrick Kipper will apply the new patina.  For over 26 years he has specialized in the conservation and restoration of fine art bronze sculpture for artists, galleries, museums and other organizations around the world, and he serves as a consultant and instructor on the patina process for art foundries. 

What is the process that will be used to clean and restore the sculpture?
After it is closely assessed and its condition documented, the three Grady figures and the Phoenix sculpture will be washed with a non–ionic detergent and water using a pressure washer and/or brushes and then rinsed.  Once dried, the Grady figures will be blasted with de-oiled finely ground walnut shells to remove any remaining dirt, build-up, corrosive material, etc. The blasting will be performed using a commercial sandblaster set to the lowest effective pressure.  Any remaining wax will then be removed by more sensitive mechanical methods so as not to damage the bronze. The process may then require a solvent wipe.

On the Henry Grady sculpture, following the cleaning, the Grady figure will be waxed creating a deep rich brownish green color.  The new patina will be applied to the female figures to match the color of Grady. Once the cleaning and patination processes are completed, the bronze will be treated with a solution of Benzotriazole (BTA), a corrosion inhibitor for copper and copper alloys and then rinsed. 

The Phoenix may receive a light blasting in a few selected areas caused by the dripping from one of the bird talons.  A bird wing will be repaired.  Patina will be added to the front on her chest and the front of her thigh to create a uniform appearance.

For both sculptures a waxing will follow:  the first coat to be applied to a heated surface; the second applied at normal temperature, sprayed utilizing an airless sprayer, and heated to give it an even appearance.  If a third coat of wax is necessary, it will be a paste applied with rags.  The bronze will be buffed after the final coat to complete the conservation process.