Part 1 of 2
This post series is drawn from a July 2022 report documenting the condition of AAHM&CC artworks recovered and documented on April 10, 2022 at Public Storage on MLK.
On March 6, 2022, workers hired by the Urban League dismantled the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center (AAHM&CC) installations in the courtyard of the Colman School building at 2300 South Massachusetts Street. They cut into the modular shed housing the art studio and art storage. Many artworks in the shed were relocated to a locker at a Public Storage facility on Martin Luther King Jr Way S at I-5. Some artworks were not brought to shed and are lost.
Our volunteers examined the artworks upon recovery. They recorded written condition notes, and performed photo documentation using smartphone cameras.
Storage conditions upon recovery
Art shed artworks and other objects were jammed together in a small storage locker. Small paintings, objects and works on paper were scattered in black plastic bags or clear plastic. Moisture was present in some bags, which promoted mold growth. Stacked crates with hoses on top were tipped onto large paintings on canvas, causing distortion and other damage.
1 – Storage of paintings on discovery
2 – Ongoing mechanical damage to paintings
Damage to 2021 painting by artist in residence Earl Debnam
3 – Earl Debnam in his AAHM&CC studio, June 2021
Many paintings by artist in residence Earl Debnam were damaged during their seizure and storage. Volunteers inventoried and documented Debnam’s works created during the 2020-2022 AAHM&CC occupation, allowing comparison with their current condition. This is the condition of one of these paintings after its recovery.
4 – 2021 painting by Earl Debnam before damage
5 – Damaged painting with several scratches to paint layers circled
This oil painting was stored in direct contact with heavy objects and hoses during storage. The paint surface is now disrupted by long scratches. The canvas now has significant planar distortion, which can be seen more easily on the unpainted reverse side of the canvas. There is also mold damage on the reverse. The planar distortion may reverse on its own as the canvas rests, however the other condition issues require conservation treatment.
5 – Reverse side of painting before damage
6 – Reverse side of damaged painting with several areas of planar distortion circled