The Atwood Foundation is in the process of donating two original Eustace Ziegler Alaskan paintings and two original Sydney Laurence paintings to the Anchorage Museum. The foundation will also contribute an original Nunivak mask.
Monica Shah, the Museum’s Director of Collections and Chief Conservator, says the Museum only accepts original art that meets the mission of Museum which is to illustrate the Circumpolar North. Shah says the Museum has had a long-term relationship with the Atwood Foundation. Shah explains the foundation decided it was time to donate more art to the Museum.
“They let us choose some pieces that are within the collection of the Foundation and so we went over and selected these pieces,” Shah said. “And we picked these particular pieces because of the quality of the work.”
“They fill gaps in our collection that we don’t have this particular subject matter, they don’t duplicate.”
The four paintings depict Alaska’s environment. One of Ziegler’s larger painting portrays a train of horses traveling with supplies on their back with the Mt. McKinley in the foreground. Shah describes another Ziegler painting.
“One by Eustace Ziegler and that is another one that is got two I guess sort of explorers prospectors sitting on a rock with Mt. McKinley in the background and you know sort of a stereotypical sort of an Alaskan scene but really you know very unique to your collection and in a sense by Ziegler we don’t have this particular image and but also very well done,” Shah said.
Shah says the Nunivak mask is from the mid-twentieth century. The mask depicts a bird with unusual green rimmed-eyes with several delicate feather appendages.
“The Nunivak style mask is not signed so we don’t know exactly who made it but it has an owl face and its lovely. It has these little green in the rims of the eyes, we don’t see that very often and in its beak its holding a fish that’s slightly bent. It’s very delicate and really wonderful,” Shah said.
Before the Museum displays the donated paintings, an art conservator is working to restore them.
Carman Bria has been a painting conservator for over thirty years and has worked on several pieces of art for the Museum. He stands next to one of the Ziegler paintings.
“You can see a very yellow discolored a natural resin varnish on it. So a lot of times, although not always possible you can remove those old varnishes and get that yellow off of there like you notice in the sky there where it is yellow, where it’s still yellow um, it looks kind of green. A blue sky with yellow on it looks kind of greenish you take the yellow off and it starts to look more blue like a sky should,” Bria said.
Bria was using a q-tip and chemicals to remove the old varnish off of the Ziegler painting.
According to Shah, the art work will go on display in June.