Come visit us at our new studio at 196 West 29th Suite B Holland, Michigan. We’re a high quality restoration studio providing services for artwork, furniture, and other treasured objects. We also produce museum-quality custom frames. Please call us for an appointment.

Member American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Member International Fine Art Appraisers.

The Wake by Mike Morgan

This painting suffered from scratches on the surface as well hair that had become somewhat troublesomely attached to the paint film due to hair products. Careful cleaning removed these impediments and conservation varnish preserved the surface and was also used to conceal the scratches.

Mike Morgan was born in Whangarei, New Zealand in 1952. He is one of New Zealand’s most iconic artists whose vibrant oil paintings are instantly recognizable for their immense detail, technical precision and humorous or satirical bent. People appear everywhere in his paintings and are usually depicted doing something rather strange, almost as if they were characters in a circus, thus adding to a surreal dimension. Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali are strong influences as well as artists much closer to home, Michael Smither and Brent Wong, being particularly influential during the 1960s and 1970s. His accomplished works are highly collectible as well as being, just like the man himself, so much fun.

A playful and gregarious character with an incredibly likeable personality, Mike is a well known and much respected artist who lived on Waiheke Island for many years and whom now resides in Waihi. His paintings frequently comment on the community with references to local activities, people and events. He has a particularly serious fondness for hotrods which often manifests itself in his art. As such many people will recognise his beloved hotrod called ‘Lucy’, named after the famous Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which appears in a significant number of paintings.

For many years Mike worked in the steel fixing industry but finally realised his dream of painting full time when he moved to Waiheke Island in 1991. He is a well established artist in New Zealand who has been consistently exhibiting for over twenty years and also exhibits regularly in New York where he is highly regarded. His paintings have an international audience including the famous band U2 who in 1989 bought five of his works, with one member of the band then commissioning another. His art is sought after by the corporate sector and is included in the collections of many corporate Head Offices in Wellington and Auckland.

 

Koepf Collection and Miller Fenwood Frames

We’re excited to showcase some of the Koepf paintings that been restored and housed in our custom frames. In case you’re not familiar with Werner Koepf (1909-1992), we are in the process of changing that: by working with the Koepf estate we are restoring and framing the collection and then jointly pursuing auction. The paintings included below not only exhibit the range of Koepf as an artist, but they also give us the opportunity to use our own framing prowess to marry the painterly qualities in a way that enhances both.

Naugatuck River Valley measures 36″ x 18″ and it received a Whistler 314 frame.

 

This triptych comprised of Still Life, Industry, The Catch, all received Modernist Dutch frames. Each painting is about 18″ x 30.”

 

Wellfleet (Cape Cod) received a Modernist white oak frame. The painting is 24″ x 30.”

 

Dry Docks #5 received a Marin Modernist frame. The painting is 40″ x 26.”

Werner Koepf was born in Neckarsulum, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and emigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1929. During the Great Depression he worked as a house painter. In 1937 his work was prominently mentioned in the New York Times’ review of The Society of Independent Artists 19th Annual Exhibition. With his talent he gained many connections in the art world: Morris Kantor, a trustee of Contemporary Arts arranged three scholarships for Koepf at the Art Students League from 1937-1939, and Daniel Catton Rich, the Director of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago paved the way for his inclusion in the Institute’s 52nd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in 1941.

Koepf served in the US Army during World War II. Starting as a translator, between 1942-1945, he was then transferred to the European Theater where he served with the 496th Heavy Automotive Ordnance Company. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and settled in Derby, Connecticut.

In 1952 he was accepted into Yale University where he was awarded the prize for outstanding achievement in the School of Fine Arts for 1952-1953 by Josef Albers. Maintaining his European contacts, Koepf showed numerous paintings, including one man shows in Paris, Stockholm, and Bremen.

Werner Koepf died at his home in March of 1992.

Landscape Restored

This painting suffered from a dry canvas that eventually led to paint loss, and unfortunately it occurred in the lightest, most noticeable area of the painting, the patch of sky.

After careful cleaning and re-lining, to improve the foundational strength, in-fill and in-painting concealed the areas of loss. The stretcher bar was given a lift, allowing the canvas to sit free, and the original frame backed-up to accommodate the new dimensions.

While the signature was done a nice legible color, we were not able to decipher the spelling and could not, no matter the scope of our searches, identity the artist.

Prudence and Scarlet by Adolph Dehn

This painting suffered from an old, discolored varnish, and a covering of dirt particulates. The corners had lost integrity of the paint film.

Cleaning was a little trickier than normal. We had to modify our solution to be gentle with the paint film, but still pick up the varnish and dirt particulates. The type of paint used was a casein variant. Consolidation returned the integrity at the corners.

Adolf Dehn (1895-1968) was born in Waterville, Minnesota. He began creating artwork at the age of 6. His student and early professional life began with a dedicated pursuit of black and white topics as a natural and expressive watercolorist. By 1920, after formal training as an illustrator and lithographer, he began to create ink drawings and lithographs, the sales of which supported him though the depression.

In the early 1920’s, Dehn moved to Europe, and developed his imagery of cabaret, park scenes, burlesque, and European landscapes of the roaring 20’s. He returned to the Midwest during the depression and by 1936 he started to work in the watercolor medium. He discovered a fondness for its characteristics of finish, fluidity, and adaptability for effects that could be either deliberate or spontaneous.

It seems watercolors also agreed with Dehn’s open, effusive, and passionate character. During the 30’s and 40’s, his favorite subjects were Midwest and Northeast farmscapes. His eventual home of New York City also became a frequent subject matter as he captured the essence of the city’s burlesque, Central Park, Harlem nightclubs, industrial yards, and areas of high society.

He died in New York City in May 1968, and left behind a vast body of lithographs, watercolors, drawings and prints, which are in the permanent collections of nearly 100 museums across the United States and Europe.

Chaung Che Figure & Landscape No. 2

This diptych, Figure & Landscape No. 2, by Chuang Che (1934-) is the seventh work by the artist that has come through our studio in recent years. Oriental art is very popular right now, and Chuang Che has a fascinating global biography, including Michigan connections, as you might have guessed by the number of his works that have passed through our doors. Be sure to read about his globetrotting below, and also at the very bottom, the last photograph, which gives a wonderful summation of his artistic aim and journey. Figure & Landscape No. 2 was executed in 1970 and measures about 34 1/2″ x 95.”

Chuang Che was born in Beijing, China. His father was the Vice-Director of the National Palace Museum and a calligrapher. He was a great influence on Chuang and the unlimited access to the treasures of the Museum had a lasting impact on his work. The family moved to Taiwan in 1948 where Chuang enlisted in the Taiwan Normal University to study Fine Art. He was taught by the likes of Chu Teh-Chun and other modernist Chinese artists who encouraged the influence of the West. In 1958 he became a founding member of the Fifth Moon Group, whose aim was to fuse the traditional practices of the East with modern techniques of the Western avant-garde. Chuang became immersed in the modernist movement which was flourishing in Taiwan at the time.

In 1966, Chuang won the J.D. Rockefeller III scholarship to travel to the US. The following year, the Cleveland Art Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts purchased some of his works. In 1968 he visited his teacher Chu Teh-Chun in Paris, where he also met Zao Wou-Ki, with whom Che found a strong artistic connection. He also travelled to Spain and met abstract artist Antoni Tapies.

Chuang moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1972 and finally settled in New York in 1988, where he became an assistant to abstract expressionist sculptor Seymour Lipton.

Chuang Che was greatly inspired by Monet’s Nymphéas series. His own paintings are a combination of traditional Chinese landscapes and his influences from Western Abstract Expressionism. As a result, Chuang Che is labelled as a pioneering figure in Chinese Abstraction. His adaptation of Eastern technique to western materials enables him to fluidly combine these two influences.

Chuang Che’s work has been shown in museums worldwide such as at the Hong Kong Art Museum, National Museum of History, Taipei and Saginaw Art Museum, Michigan. In 1992 the Taipei Fine Arts Museum held his first major retrospective and most recently held another in 2016.

Chuang Che lives and works in New York.

Édouard Cortès, Porte St Denis, De-fit and Clean

Porte St Denis by Édouard Cortès (1882 – 1969) suffered from scuffs and surface contaminates. The scuffs had resulted in paint loss and were visible when the back of the canvas was held up to light. They appeared as little pin pricks.

The painting has been de-fit and cleaned. Consolidation and in-fill will handle the areas where there were scuffs. In-painting will conceal these areas. A final application of conservation varnish will preserve the artwork for years to come.

Stay tuned for more…

Edouard Cortes was born into a family of artists and artisans in Paris, 1882. His grandfather, Andre Cortes, was famous for his work on the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Seville and his father, Antonio Cortes, was a painter at the royal court of Spain. In this artistically conducive atmosphere, Edouard showed exceptional talent early and decided at a young age that he was destined to be a painter. He once stated, “I was born from and for painting.”

In his youth, Cortes trained at his father’s studio and was also given advice and encouragement from his brother (also a painter) and other local artists. Surprisingly, before undergoing his formal education at the National French Art School in Paris, a sixteen-year old Cortes first exhibited his work at the national exhibition of the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris, 1899. His large painting, Le Labour, was a great success and the French press lauded the young phenomenon of the French art scene.

Edouard eventually became a member of the French Artists’ Society, exhibiting his works every year as his reputation began to grow. In 1901 Cortes began his long tradition of painting different vignettes of Paris. He also painted familial interiors, landscapes, and seascapes but achieved his greatest fame through these masterly and expressive Parisian scenes. In 1915, he was awarded the Silver Medal at the Salon des Artistes Francais and the Gold Medal at the Salon des Independents. He also received numerous awards at the Salon d’Hiver during his artistic career.

Cortès’ beautiful depictions of Paris were always in demand and he continued to paint them until his death in 1969.

Handmade Museum Quality Frames and Frame Restoration

We wanted to highlight the range of frame options we are able to provide.

Here’s a recent Otto Palding (1887-1964) winterscape that we made a custom frame for. It’s a Modernist American Step with primitive qualities that make is similar to a Hicks Frame and that we think make it aesthetically match with the subject matter. We used black and yellow clays, and finished it with white gold. The painting measures 34″ x 20.”

 

This antique frame had extensive degradation to the ornamentation caused by dehydration and buckling. Molds were made from composition and then casts were used to reintroduce the lost ornamentation. New gesso, clay, and gilding married the new portions to the old. Micro vacuuming removed surface contaminates.

 

Custom 22K Duch Modernist frame prepared for a long-time client and local artist, Dawn Stafford. Basswood is cut to dimensions in our woodshed with a custom blade and then mitered and joined. Sanding prepares the surface for gesso, and then clays and a touching of steel wool finalize it before it comes to the studio. Gilding gives the frame a decadence and interplays with the tonal aspects of the subject matter. Basswood is one of our preferred wood types as it is usually devoid of resin and thus favorable for gilding.

Montana Immigration Document from 1894

This family document of Montana issued Immigration papers from 1894 had been stored with the papers folded. Creases formed that caused these areas in the paper to become very fragile. Substances of candy, shellac, and glue were found across the document. What likely happened was that these substances found their way onto the document at various times, and later, with water damage, these substances moved, pooled, and concentrated in the same areas, represented by the darkest spots in the photos. While difficult to remove, these substances tell a wonderful and rich history and give a glimpse into what the immigration process was like. Acid stains had also led to the deterioration of the paper quality.

Select Chemistry baths helped soften the paper and the glue that held them together. With careful scalpel work and water baths we were able to separate the pages. De-acidification neutralized the acid stains and lifted their discoloration. In-fill with paper of like quality mended the areas of loss, and the small detached pieces were reincorporated with an archival glue.

Before and After

Grand Haven Plat Map

This Plat Map detailing Grand Haven suffers from numerous creases due to folding, non-archival tape, and widespread acid stains due to the particle board it had been placed on and how it concentrated the sun exposure. This map is 45″ x 58 1/4.”

After carefully removing the tape we’ll support it underneath with a screen while we carefully dip it. This will treat the stains. It will then go through a series of blotter applications to absorb the contaminates and return its shape to plane. New paper of the same quality will be added where losses have occurred. A backing will be given to provide support.

Once complete this map will go on display at the Tri-State Historical Museum, and a facsimile will travel the local school systems as a teaching aid.