Artist Don Gray does restoration work on Civil War mural. Water had caused some damage.
Viva Cuba continues to invest time and money in its outdoor mural project. Viva Cuba, a nonprofit organization, originally commissioned the murals between 2001 and 2007. Viva Cuba raised money from individuals, local businesseses, and fundraisers to finance the murals. They are not a city project although the city has been supportive, especially concerning mural lighting. You might think 2007 is when the time invested and expense of the murals ended. That is not the case. Viva Cuba still continues to fundraise to maintain the murals and finance other beautification projects.
Over time, paints degrade, weather takes it toll, and erosion of the surface occurs. Oxidation can cause the paints to dull. However, the Viva Cuba beautification organization remains committed to keeping the murals looking as good as possible. Murals are inspected quarterly for damage or degradation, and maintenance is ongoing. Each year during the repair/restoration season a team of artists and workman flock to the murals to clean, scrape, prime, repaint, and make any repairs or adjustments necessary.
When possible, Viva Cuba likes to have the original artists inspect, paint, and work with the maintenance team. However, that is not always possible because of the artists’ geographical location or other factors. Sometimes, the murals require only minor cleaning and touchup and at other times, more significant work is required. Preventive maintenance can save money and damage in the long term.
Last summer, Viva Cuba spent a significant amount on the Amelia Earhart ,Gold Star Boys, and the Apple murals.
Although cleaning and touch ups might occur on all the murals, this season the Al West mural and the Civil War series have seen major work.
See Michelle Pearson’s Cuba Free Press article “Al West gets touched up” for her report of the artist working on the Al West Mural. The artist Leslie Faust was part of the original team that worked on the mural, and she was able to return for repair and restoration.
Artist Leslie Faust confers with Viva Cuba maintenance chairperson Jill Barnett (R) and painter Jeff Zelasko of Rolla, who assists Viva Cuba with cleaning and maintenance of the murals. The Al West mural is receiving restoration/maintenance work this summer.
Even the back of the mural wall gets attention. It was decided to clean and paint the back of the mural for moisture protection. The mural team likes to do preventive maintenance when possible.
The Civl War panels on Buchanan Street sustained some water damage early this spring. The damage was noticed and analyzed. The artist Don Gray who lives in the state of Oregon was consulted, sent photos, and agreed to fly to Cuba for a week of consultation and work. Gray is as committed to keeping the murals looking good as Viva Cuba is. He later complimented Viva Cuba for immediately dealing with the damage and preventing it from becoming worse.
Viva Cuba members picked Gray up at the airport. He was suppose to stay with Bill and Catherine Lange, but a short term AC glitch caused an overnight stay at Super 8, which the motel donated. Viva Cuba’s Vanessa Damouth coordinated meals and food for his stay. Gray had gift certificates from Frisco’s and MO-Hick BBQ to use while in town. Robert-Judson allowed him to charge the materials he needed to a Viva Cuba account, and the Lions Club let him keep his supplies in the building next to the Lion’s Den. Stovall rentals delivered scaffolding. Again, community support came together to help Viva Cuba make Gray’s visit to Cuba go as smoothly as possible.
Cuba’s Kevin Britton consulted with Gray on how to make the framing more protective for the murals and avoid future problems. Artist Julie Nixon Krovicka brought in newly painted text panels for the murals to further restore the mural series. After Gray scraped, primed and repainted some sections of the Leasburg panel, a new coating was put on all the murals that revived the oxidized paint and made the colors “pop” again.
Artists Julie Krovicka and Don Gray inspect the murals panels and discuss restoration.
The Civil War murals should be in good shape when there is a planned historical re-enactment of the Civil War battle at Leasburg in 2011.
For Don Gray’s own words on the Civil War panel restoration visit his Thursday, July 15 blog. He also provides some photos and links to information of the battles depicted in the murals.
Viva Cuba and its artists have found that passersby are just as interested in the maintenance of the murals as they are in the completed murals. The artists mention the tourists and locals who stop by to watch and question them about the murals. Both Faust and Gray kept mural brochures to pass out to travelers who stopped by. Gray was amazed at the how many people stopped by from so many geographic locations around the world.
The murals have changed the face Cuba. Businesses have contributed their own public art projects to the Cuba scene. Cuba is known for its art work, and it has helped boost our economy. Viva Cuba will continue to raise funds and ask for your support with our fundraisers to keep our reputation as Cuba, MO “Rt. 66 Mural City” intact.
Leslie Faust's car shows that an artist's tool box can be pretty extensive.