Author Archives: Bob Hannum

About Bob Hannum

With over 40 years assisting artists, museums, collectors, corporations and our State Department, Bob provides installation, repair, and maintenance of contemporary sculpture and hanging artwork.

Pool Tile Art Restoration in Manila

Reviving a 'Lost' Artwork

First, Saving Hands and Feet

Two years ago I was sent out to our Ambassador's residence in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to do some work on an unusual tile artwork embedded in the large swimming pool in the back yard.

This work of art was created by the Picasso of the Philippines, Vicente Silva Manansala (1910-1981), in the early 60's when the pool was constructed. Though he is quite famous in the Philippines, no one seems to be aware of this unusual work of art except our embassy and our Office of Cultural Heritage team.

Manansala pool tile repair in ManilaThe Initial Work

The tiles were cut and installed but never softened, resulting in edges still so sharp that swimmers occasionally cut their feet. I carefully 'soft-ground' the edges of more than 1000 tiles over 3 days with the help of the embassy mason, Delmar. I couldn't have done it without him as it was mid-summer and hot even in the shade! I did 10 minutes at a time. Delmar in his special hat that completely covered his neck, did a 1/2 hour at a time. As a small token of my deep appreciation I gave him my beloved grinding tool.

Update: May, 2020

Back to Manila!

Manansala Pool Tile artworkThere is another problem with this artwork besides the sharp edges. Some tiles deteriorated and were replaced without matching the original colors or shapes. About 90 tiles were replaced. The photo on the right indicates replaced tiles - the ones with red dots. Luckily, replacement tile is all one distinct gray color, so it's easy to spot the replacements. The original shapes were not as easy to determine - I had to study his artwork with similar elements to figure this out with certainty.

The Director of the Office of Cultural Heritage decided to not only restore this important and unusual artwork, but also track down relatives, Filipino cultural officials, and museum directors to plan a special dedication when the restoration is finished. This is an unusual work of art by a renown Filipino artist, so I anticipate interest outside of the family and the State Dept.

I was selected to lead this effort and spent a portion of the last year researching this piece to restore the original shapes and colors. That completed, I located a handmade tile manufacturer in Lisbon, Portugal to match the colors. That company, Viuva Lamego, completed the order and shipped the tile to Manila where it is awaiting my return.

I'll bring a special tile cutting tool that enables one to cut curves in tile. I suspect that the lack of this tool may have been the reason the original tile shapes were not previously matched. I plan to show the mason how to use this piece of equipment and then leave it for him so that he can do future tile replacement as needed and maintain this valuable artwork.

Pool Tile Artwork by Vicente ManansalaThe artwork is so large that no photo exists showing the entire piece. During my next trip I'll find a photographer to take drone overhead photos.

I located 2 granddaughters of the artist. One is an expert on her grandfather's artwork. I continue to follow leads and hope to locate many more interested parties.

As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic allows me to travel, I will return, hopefully by the fall or winter of this year.

The US Dept of State May newsletter features cultural heritage projects including 2 of mine! Take a look at https://statemag.state.gov/2020/05/0520feat03/.

Graffiti Removal in Randolph

Whale Dance by Jim Sardonis
‘Whale Dance’ by Jim Sardonis, July 2019, bronze with dark patina, 16’ x 12’, Randolph, VT. Photo by Lelonie Oatway.

Brief History

Thirty years ago, the sculptor Jim Sardonis of Randolph, Vermont created 2 large black granite whale tales entitled “Reverence.” This sculpture spent 10 years in Randolph before being sold and moved to Technology Park in South Burlington. Here it remains today. It was originally meant to anchor a sculpture park but that is yet to come about.

Recently the Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Vermont Community Foundation commissioned Jim to create a larger bronze version.  “Whale Dance” was installed in July of 2019 and sits on the same spot where "Reverence" spent its first ten years. As you can see in the photo above, "Whale Dance" is framed by a stunning view of the mountains beyond.

Graffiti

Jim contacted me to remove graffiti. Text in crayon or lipstick pen appeared in 2 areas each about 10" square. I agreed to address this immediately even thought it was the middle of winter, because graffiti is not only damaging and often ugly, it also encourages more graffiti.

Graffiti

Treatment

Removal was easy. I applied acetone which removes most paint and other markings from metal without disturbing the patina. Acetone can be used no matter how cold the weather. Luckily the graffiti was not etched which would have required much more work.

It took about a half-hour. I removed the graffiti and applied a dark wax at the artist’s request.

Inspection

In addition to this work, I also inspected the sculpture.

There are no cracks. About two dozen pits of 1/16" diameter or less appear across the surface. These are not a concern since there's no indication of any penetration below the patina such as green spots or streaks.

There are scuff marks where kids have climbed over the wide lower surfaces.

A light green sheen appears on the surface indicating that weather may be causing slight oxidation. The artist informed me that this is by design. It makes the dark surface feel more organic and alive. This is surprisingly effective and a wonderful treatment I never saw before.

Special Effect on Whale Dance by Jim Sardonis
Scuff marks, pits, and faint green sheen.

The sculpture is embedded in the hillside. The foundation is hidden under the surface of the ground.

I recommended signage which is proven to reduce vandalism. I also suggested coating the entire surface with a polymer for added protection.

Why Coat Bronze

Wax is traditionally used to coat bronze sculpture. This protects it from conditions that harm the surface, such as bird droppings, salt air, and acid rain.

I recommend a polymer coating rather than wax for outdoor sculpture. It seals small cracks and pits, and is less expensive to apply and maintain. Most importantly, it lasts as much as 10 years whereas wax lasts less than a year outdoors.

Most conservators now use polymer coatings. This is the best recommendation of all since the conservation industry is quite conservative. Conservators are not known for using products that are only 30 years in use!

This treatment restores a ‘new’ look which is virtually identical to an original dark brown bronze patina. The degree of 'satin' can be adjusted by the manufacturer to match whatever an artist intends.

Plus, no maintenance is required other than wiping with a cotton cloth and tap water. When the coating fades, just reapply a new one without removing the old - it 'self-anneals'. Anyone with painting skills can do it. Apply is by brush or wiping - it 'self-levels', meaning it will not streak. Two coats last up to 10 years depending on weather conditions. Polymers are so durable that I offer a 5-year warranty to my clients.

I plan to coat “Whale Dance” in the spring.

Update - May, 2020

Before I coat it later this month when it's warmer, I did a test of several shades of the satin Everbrite coating in order to exactly match the finish of the sculpture. The artist joined me to give it his eye as well - we stayed 6' apart and wore masks.

We agreed on a satin tone that's 1/4 of the usual chemical mixture. We also tested brush vs wipe. The coating takes only 20 minutes to dry to the touch, 60 minutes between coats.

I called Everbrite and they just shipping a custom batch. The Everbrite company is very responsive to custom orders. They mixed and shipped it out the same day.

Our governor, Phil Scott, is slowly opening businesses state-wide. Those with up to 10 employees can reopen as long as customers and employees stay 6' apart and wear masks. Restaurants and schools and movie theaters are not yet allowed. My one-person business is good to go.

I plan to apply two coats as recommended, and another 2 over the lower sections where kids climb, for added protection. I'll inspect yearly for free as I do for all my clients, but I expect the When I coating to last 7-10 years.

Unexpected Surprise!

The Holiday Card

In June of 2018, I restored an historic fountain at our embassy in Lisbon. Though pleased with the outcome, I never imagined who else might notice!

In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife visited the embassy. They were so impressed by the fountain that he and his wife chose it for the cover of their holiday card which went out to all State Department employees and contractors.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Will Moser
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Will Moser
The cover of the Pompeo family holiday card 2019
The cover of the Pompeo family holiday card 2019 - notice the face on the left is a detail from the fountain.
Detail of Pompeo Family Holiday Card
Inside of the card
Detail of Pompeo Family Holiday Card
Card cover detail of the Lisbon fountain

Restoration

Decades of iron, calcium, lime and old darkened sealer heavily stained the antique tiles and marble features of the fountain. Plus, the plumbing leaked and the walkway around the fountain, made of white limestone, had darkened with moss and mold.

antique tile
Before restoration

Not knowing the best technique for cleaning antique tile, I sought guidance from one of Portugal’s leading handmade tile manufacturers, Viuva Lamego. Seeing my interpreter and surmising that I did not speak Portuguese, the director turned to me and tapped his teeth!

 

Like Cleaning Teeth

This was my introduction to the fine art of cleaning antique tile. It’s like cleaning teeth, and the best equipment for the job are dental tools. You can scrape the tile with metal and you won’t damage it at all. Just don’t tap or press on the surface or it will crack.

The careful work took several days followed by training for embassy staff so that they can wipe the fountain surfaces once a week to keep it looking fresh.

Detail of Restored Fountain at the US Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal by Bob Hannum Detail of Restored Fountain at the US Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal by Bob Hannum
Detail of Restored Fountain at the US Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal by Bob Hannum Restored Fountain at the US Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal
Restored Fountain by Bob Hannum
Finished

History

So, what’s the age of the fountain and who’s the face?

The property was a farm that goes way back: pre-16th century. It is one of the few that survived the great Portuguese earthquake in the early 1700s.

The property was then bought by a rich family who rebuilt and expanded the farm estate in the late 1700s. This is when the handmade tile was added, including what you see on the fountain. So, we know the date of the tile: late 18th century. The marble face and shell may be older.

The US State Dept bought the property in the 1980s, built the embassy, and restored several of the most important buildings. This fountain was moved at that time from another location on the farm. Extensive tile restoration was done at that time, most likely including the sealer that turned black!

Iconography

Here’s what I know about the face. It likely depicts one of two ancient gods, the Roman god of waterways, Oceanus, or the Lusitanian god of fountains, Duberticus.

Oceanus is an oft-depicted figure and face on European fountains. He is the primordial Titan god of the earth-encircling river Okeanos, the source of all the earth’s freshwater – river, well, and rain. He also regulates the heavenly bodies that rise from and set into his waters. His hair and/or ears and/or beard is often depicted with a wavy shell-like or water-like pattern as seen on the ears of this face and the crest of water over his head. Note the shell at the top of the fountain, supporting the idea that we’re looking at a figure associated with water.

Oceanus
Oceanus

The fountain, as with others on this property, was originally connected to an aqueduct system, and parts of the original aqueduct can still be seen on the property. It was fed by a well that is still on the property but now closed. We are proposing to open the well and use it once-again to feed all the fountains.

The face is made of marble as is the shell. The fountain top stones and the surrounding stones of the walkway are limestone which is prevalent throughout Portugal.

 

Neptune and Poseidon

So why isn’t the face Neptune or Poseidon, famous gods of water and oceans? Early on in Greek and Roman mythology, Poseidon and Neptune were distinct. Neptune was associated with freshwater and Poseidon, the sea. At some time in the BC era, Neptune and Poseidon became interchangeable as the god of the sea. When depicted in sculpture Poseidon and Neptune are never without a trident or similar motif, and there's no such image on this fountain.

Poseidon
Poseidon

 

Duberticus

Duberticus is the Lusitanian god of fountains. Lusitanian god worship centered around the area that now includes Lisbon and predates the arrival of the Romans circa 200 BC. There are no known existing images of Duberticus. However, this farm is very old and the fountain is original to the farm. Many Portuguese consider their proud heritage to be Lusitanian, and the Lusitanians fought off Roman rule for decades, so fountains in this area are least likely to depict anything related to Rome. This just may be the only existing depiction of Duberticus!

I just found this interesting related post info from 'VikingWidunder':

Dercetius/Dercetivs is the Lusitanian/Celtiberian deity of the mountains. This name is obviously its Latin equivalent, for the celts and lusitanians seldom left any epigraphic vestiges. When the Romans invaded the Iberian Peninsula, many deties had their names changed to latin, and so the people still worshiped their ancient gods but with new names and possibly new caracteristics. It is really hard to know the original name of this deity, because the Lusitanian language was celtic in its origins but very different from the Irish, Breton, Gaelic and so on, however, it sounded very similar to the Irish and some words match. The only word that I could find to match with "Dercetius" was the into-European word Derk-e/o, which means "see". It is possible that this deity is associated with seeing into the distance from an high point. He is the god of mountains, hills, summits and all kinds of geographical elevations. Most of the celtic settlements were near a mountain or hill, or actually built on top of an elevation. For the celts, most mountains and hills had a unique deity protecting and living in it, Duberticus for the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula was such a deity of a particular mountain range but also of all the mountains and hills in the land.

Update: May, 2020

I've writen to 'VikingWidunder' in hopes of tracking down his sources on Duberticus so stay tuned!

Also, May is Cultural Heritage Month at the US State Dept. The newsletter featured several restoration projects including two of mine. See the newsletter here: https://statemag.state.gov/2020/05/0520feat03/

Sculpture on the Highway

‘Untitled’ by Herbert Baumann 1968
‘Untitled’ by Herbert Baumann 1968

Giving Back

Some of my work is giving back to my community.

One of my pro bono projects is helping the Vermont State Curator, David Schutz, conserve the 'largest sculpture park in the world'!

'Axe VIII’ by Bradford Graves 1971
'Axe VIII’ by Bradford Graves 1971

The Story Begins in 1968

The Vermont educator and artist, Paul Aschenbach, gathered fellow sculptors from around the world to join him in two symposia held in 1968 and 1971. The sculptors gathered in Vermont to live and create art side-by-side. Supporting these symposia were grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts which matched goods and services provided by two regional industrial benefactors, the Vermont Marble Company (1968) and concrete manufacturer S.T. Griswold & Company (1971).

'Cuarto Torres’ (Four Towers) by Eduardo Ramirez 1971
'Cuarto Torres’ (Four Towers) by Eduardo Ramirez 1971

Marble and Concrete

22 sculptures were created during these 2 symposia. Some were sold according to an agreement at the time among the artists and 1 was damaged beyond repair during a later relocation effort. The remaining 16 can be viewed at rest areas along 400 miles of Vermont highways I-91 and I-89. Half are marble created in the first symposium and the other half are reinforced cast or applied concrete created in the second symposium. Together they are now known as the ‘Sculpture on the Highway’.

'Untitled’ by Viktor Rogy 1968
'Untitled’ by Janez Lenassi 1968

My Role

I volunteered to inspect the condition of each sculpture for a grant proposal David and his team are preparing to submit later this year. The grant seeks resources to conserve the sculptures. Some need to be moved, some need foundations, and all need to be cleaned. Many cracks and chips need repair and graffiti needs to be removed. The good news is that they're all in remarkably good condition for 50 years old, and with timely and proper attention, they can all last another 50 years and beyond.

'Untitled’ by James Silva 1971

So off I went to find these huge objects. Some were difficult to locate, obscured by forest growth, blocked by fencing, or in areas that are now closed to the public. Eventually, I found them all.

'Untitled by Minoru Niizuma 1968

I created a conditions report and a plan for conservation and on-going maintenance. The goal is not to bring them back to their original condition but rather to delay the natural deterioration for as long as possible. Each sculpture is prioritized according to their need - from most at-risk to least.

‘Untitled’ by Rudolph Uher 1971

Conservation Needs

The first priority is to move those that are too close to a roadway, or in a location susceptible to vandalism, or in areas that are now inaccessible to the public. The second priority is to fill cracks since the freeze/thaw cycle of Vermont weather will do the most damage - each year those cracks get a bit wider and longer. The third priority is to create a foundation for those that don’t have one. Other needs can wait if necessary, such as chip repair, coating and covering exposed rebar, removing graffiti, signage, and cleaning off moss, dirt, and mold.

Signage of some kind is an interesting factor. Research shows that some kind of label next to outdoor art reduces vandalism. But signage right next to these works is not recommended in order to honor the original intent. Some of the symposia artists decided that titles and signage impeded the viewers encounter with these monumental artworks. So we'll have to brainstorm on this issue - maybe signage at the beginning of a long path leading to the sculpture? We'll see.

cracks in the concrete of ‘Untitled’ by A. Dieter Trantenroth 1971
Cracks in the sculptures are a high priority

Then a pleasant surprise!! The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), our state highway department, got wind of our efforts and offered to help. So, we are now working with VTrans to move and create foundations for those that need it which we hope begins this fall.

‘Untitled’ by A. Dieter Trantenroth 1971

Getting Started

The plan is to move some of the sculptures to high-use rest areas to eliminate the risk of vandalism and so that visitors can walk around them. Others will have their current areas cleaned and improved.

‘Untitled’ by Erich Reischke 1968

Grant applications will be submitted in the fall of 2020 with award announcements in the spring of 2021. If we're lucky and all goes as planned, all the work will be completed by the end of 2022, including exciting interpretive programs at our rest stops, welcome centers, and websites.

‘Untitled’ by Paul Aschenbach 1971
‘Untitled’ by Paul Aschenbach 1971

We’re keeping our fingers crossed! These 16 sculptures are an important piece of Vermont history. They hold a unique place in contemporary art as the largest sculpture park in the world. They are works of significance and value that must not be neglected.

Update: August 2019

The niece of one of the artists, Erich Reischke, just contacted me! She read this article and is coming to visit Vermont this fall with her sister and would like to see their uncle's artwork. Very cool! And one of my clients, the Office of Cultural Heritage (CH) of our US State Dept, has offered to review our conservation plans. CH is a small team of incredibly talented art conservators who travel the world repairing the vast collection of art in our embassies and ambassador residences abroad. They are a wonderful group of people and I'm thrilled to be working with them on this project!

As one of the members of our group recently remarked, there seems to be a lot of positive energy gathering around this project. The stars are aligned! I'll keep you posted.

Update: October 2019

Our group continues to meet, visit the sites, and plan for their preservation. We are now focused on several grant applications for funding, such as the federal ‘Save America’s Treasures’ grant and a couple highway grants, one of which we have already received for planning. So, we are gathering all our notes and estimates – wish us luck!

In the meantime, we are also tracking down the artists that are still alive or the artist’s family members. Three are still alive – Ruddick, Silva, and Katsuji (http://www.kishidakatsuji.com).

We just met with two sisters who are nieces of Erich Reischke. They came from California to see his sculpture. Byron and Bob spent an afternoon with them at their uncle’s sculpture, talking and reminiscing.

They shared memories of Erich’s fascinating and unusual life – living on a commune, becoming a Sikh, several wives, and how shunned he was by his family at first and then later so beloved.

IMG_7779

The 2 nieces of Erich Reischke: Rita Reischke Bauer (left) and Sylvia Reischke

IMG_7765

 

Yesterday Byron and I traveled to Northampton, MA, about 2.5 hours drive south to meet halfway, Peter Ruddick and his friend who drove up from New York City where Peter has an art exhibition. He lives in California.

We spent 3 hours listening to memories of his upbringing during the war in England, his teaching career in Oregon, then at the Pratt Institute in New York City, and then Goddard College in Vermont, and then the symposia that resulted in these sculptures. Each symposium lasting 2 months. He spoke about the artist and theirinfluences such as Louise Bourgeois and especially, for him, Alberto Giacometti.

He supports our plans for signage and foundations for each sculpture. His contribution to ‘Sculpture on the Highway’ was thought to be ‘Untitled’ but we discovered it’s ‘Sextant’. He explained the influences behind it such as climbing over bunkers and looking thru machine gun sites left over from the war in England as a child.

He explained that he and the other artists were involved in choosing the location and exact placement of their pieces. For him the circle of 'Sextant' framed the mountains in the distance and the diamond framed cars on the highway or parked at the rest stop. We plan to move this sculpture and Peter enjoyed our suggestion of the Sharon Welcome Center where it will once again align with a view of the mountains at one end and the highway at the other.

 

Peter Ruddick, Bob Hannum, and Byron Breese in Paul & Elizabeth’s Restaurant, Northampton MA 10/7/19 Peter Ruddick, Bob Hannum, and Byron Breese in Paul & Elizabeth’s Restaurant, Northampton MA 10/7/19

 

Peter Riddick’s ‘Sextant’ at a closed weigh station on I-89 South in Sharon

Peter Ruddick’s ‘Sextant’ at a closed weigh station on I-89 South in Sharon

Plans are also afoot to reconstruct a missing piece by Kishida Katsuji who is still alive. It was destroyed years ago while trying to move it.

All of these remarkable pieces are 50 years old in 2021, so we’re considering ways to mark the occasion. Perhaps another symposium, National Historic Register designation, the reconstruction of this piece, and other thrilling possibilities.

Kishida Katsuji sculpture at Sharon Rest Stop, I-89 South, destroyed years ago in an attempt to move it. Kishida Katsuji sculpture at the Sharon Rest Stop, destroyed years ago in an attempt to move it.

‘Untitled’ by Karl Prantl
‘Untitled’ by Karl Prantl 1968

Historic Tokyo Bench Restoration

US Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo, Japan
US Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo, Japan

Not for Me

Sometimes my work involves finding others to do it! This project is a good example. It involves the re-creation of 2 outdoor benches from their original 1929 designs - huge, beautiful, and complex pieces.

Even though I’ve made furniture and would love to do it again, and wrangle my favorite and brilliant colleague Al Chapman to join me, this was out of our league because of several daunting tasks such as bending 2” thick wood and Japanese joinery. So, we decided to pass on this one. Thus, my task was to find very special craftspeople.

History of the Benches

In 1929 the American architects Antonin Raymond, the father of modern Japanese architecture, and Harold Van Burren Magonigle designed the US ambassador’s residence in Tokyo. This is one of America’s most historic buildings. It is the first ambassador's residence built by the US government. Even more significantly, it is where Emperor Hirohito met General MacArthur shortly following World War II to renounce his divinity, forever changing the geopolitics of Japan and the world.

Completed in 1931, the residence stands as a marvelous example of early Japanese-American design with Moorish and Oriental influences.

The construction of the residence was a unique collaboration of American architects and Japanese builders. The design included two gardens each featuring a large wood bench.

Original 1929 Architectural Drawing Showing Bench Design
                                                                   Original 1929 Architectural Drawing Showing Bench Design

Over the past several years the residence and gardens were meticulously restored to their original beauty. The restoration of the benches is the final and most important part of this project. The benches are prominently located in gardens often used by the ambassador for special occasions. The original benches deteriorated by the 1960’s and were replaced by concrete seats.

As concrete, the benches are cold, stark, and uninviting objects within the warm and colorful gardens. Restoring the original benches will finally return both gardens to their original beauty, and reclaim their status as centerpieces in spaces frequently used for diplomatic events.

Original Half Circle Bench
                                                                                                  Original Half Circle Bench

Existing Half Circle Bench
                                                                                                   Existing Half Circle Bench

Unique Collaboration

My task here was not only to find uniquely experienced craftspeople, but also design an exciting proposal to attract donors. I estimated the price tag for this project to be about 100K. Sounds like a lot, but this includes research, shipping, and painting. Yes, painting. The original benches were painted and this project calls for strict matching of the original. Further research will reveal the original colors.

My team at the Office of Cultural Heritage suggested some kind of Japanese-American team to honor the original partnership - Americans designed the property and Japanese craftspeople built it, including the benches.

So, the adventure began finding the right people from 2 different countries willing to bid on this project and work together!

Miraculously, a woodworker sent me a message about another project I’d written about here on my website - see ‘Dusting the Buddha’ - and mentioned his experience with Japanese construction techniques. I asked him to look at this project. Then another miracle! He works with an extraordinary Japanese craftperson, and together they've achieved wide acclaim in over 40 years of collaboration. Their high-profile projects include some of the most famous oriental structures in Japan and the US.

Unique Proposal

I’d found the perfect team, and they presented a fabulous proposal to blend old and new in the spirit of the original architects. They proposed to apply the finest traditional furniture-making techniques with modern durable materials. The result will be an exact match of the original design lasting maintenance-free for many decades.

There is another benefit of this collaboration: it is actually less expensive to utilize US labor and materials even adding shipping, compared to the costs of Japanese labor and materials.

Peter Wechsler will construct the benches in his workshop in Maryland and then ship them in pieces to Tokyo. There his colleague Hatsuo Kanomata will assemble, install, and paint them.

Kanomata and bob
                                          Master Craftsmen Peter Wechsler (left) and Hatsuo Kanomata - a 40-Year Collaboration

Exacting Specifications

Both benches will be fabricated as per the original drawings. The semicircular bench will have five sections, and the other curving bench three. Materials and construction methods will be chosen for maximum durability.

The end pieces and legs will utilize Bruynzeel Oukume plywood - a high quality certified marine grade plywood used in high-end boat construction for its extreme weather resistance and durability.

The ornamental cut-outs found on both benches will be achieved by a CNC machine.

Facade of the Residence
       Detail on the facade of the residence repeated on both benches - this may be a stylized gingko leaf since the largest                                                                                         gingko tree in Japan is located on the property

All the glue used will be the highest-grade marine epoxy and all screws stainless steel. All screw holes will be countersunk and plugged.

Wood dimensions for the seats and backs will be 2” thick and laminated out of Port Orford cedar.

Three decorative wood squares on the back and front of each 5’ section will be applied with epoxy.

All the vertical and horizontal pieces supporting the seats and seat-backs will also be cedar. Following traditional furniture-building techniques, they will be mortised and tenoned into place.

It's Begun!

The project was approved. Funds have been found. Peter and Hatsuo plan to complete the project in 2021.

Sculpture Restoration at Becton, Dickinson and Company

Thirty-Year-Old Sculpture

Michael_Singer_Becton_Interior_Atria_Gardens-6From March 1 thru 11, 2019, my son William and I restored a 30-year-old in-ground sculpture entitled "Atrium Garden" by Michael Singer. It took us 11 long days. It’s now good for another 30 years!

I was also part of the team that originally installed it.

After 30 years this sculpture of pine and stone needed serious TLC.

The original construction was comprised of wood units made of 2x4’s enclosed with ½’’ plywood.

 

 

Why PT Was Not Originally Used

Pressure treated wood products first became popular in the 70's, but by the mid-80's when we constructed this sculpture, research indicated that the chemicals used were too toxic for indoor use. It wasn’t until the 90’s that safer chemicals were used in the production of PT products. Thus, when we built this sculpture we decided not to use PT. Instead, we coated the outside plywood with tar and plastic as a safe and effective alternative for protecting the wood from contact with plant irrigation and moist soil.

It held up well but after 30 years the plastic had eroded in many places and the ply had rotted. The rot was so extensive that in many places only a sheet of tar remained. The plywood on the visible sides of the sculpture was coated with glue and dirt to give the impression of dirt walls as in an excavation. These were in good shape except for the bottom 2" or so where moist dirt created rot. Most of the supporting 2x4’s were pock-marked with rot.

Each hole is about 5 and a half feet deep with a concrete floor that we covered with dirt to look like an excavation. Under the plants are about a foot of gravel and topsoil. Filling the remaining space between the floor and the soil were layers of thick 4” rigid foam.

Interestingly, we expected to find small lizards and spiders which we spotted at times during the yearly maintenance visits throughout the past years. We encountered none.

A Dirty Job

The contents of each hole were removed - wood structures and large stones. A manual crane was used to remove the stones which were too heavy to lift by hand. Each structure was rebuilt with pressure-treated (PT) plywood. Outdoor-grade latex paint and 35-year latex caulk were applied to the seams and bare wood to match the color of the surrounding dirt. Outdoor-grade decking screws were used at all times.

Then each ‘dirt wall’ made of plywood and 2x4’s was removed and rebuilt. Old ply and 2x4’s were replaced with PT. Sheets of thick plastic were placed as a barrier between the dirt and plants and the new structures. Finally, the wood and stone elements were placed back into their holes.

Challenges

The long days were due to the challenges presented by our location. We stayed at a comfortable hotel only 10 minutes away from the BD campus. We started each day leisurely with a nice hot breakfast and drive over to BD in William’s truck by 10 am each morning. We estimated 16 days for this project if we worked straight thru with no days off. We couldn’t make loud noise from hammers, saws, or vacuums during business hours. So, we used this time to purchase supplies and prepare everything we needed so that once 6 pm arrived we were ready for a loud and intense 3 or 4 more hours of work.

Keeping It Safe

Because employees were working and walking near us throughout each day, we were very careful to keep our worksite clean and organized and surrounded by safety cones and air filters to maintain a safe, healthy, and productive work environment for ourselves and BD employees. The polished granite and marble floors surrounding the sculpture were protected at all times with moving blankets and thick plastic sheet. And of course, we had to watch our language when faced with the occasional frustrating moment!

About BD

BD is the world’s largest producer of medical supplies. Their many inventions include the syringe, thermometer, ace bandage, and the black leather doctor’s bag. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD employs nearly 50,000 people in more than 50 countries throughout the world. The founders, Maxwell Becton and Fairleigh Dickinson were also collectors of art. In 1986 work began to create a new campus in Franklin Lakes, NJ. New buildings would feature large work spaces with natural light and beautiful art.

Award-Winning Architecture

The architects Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood envisioned a Tuscan villa-style design with stately buildings set among rolling hills made of mahogany, polished stone, and copper. Their design achieved every major architectural award. The chief architect, Michael McKinnell, placed large atriums within each building and commissioned the sculptor Michael Singer to create 2 large indoor sculptures and another large outdoor one. Singer and McKinnell became friends and collaborated on subsequent artworks and architectural designs.

Lost Energy

After about the sixth long and hard day, we’d had it! My son William and I were a bit down and out with no end in sight. So, we called in our friend Al Chapman to lift our spirits and lighten our load. He was just what we needed! Over the next 3 days his skill, energy, and good humor got us all back on track. Suddenly, the project was almost finished and we were ecstatic!

Installation at the American Academy of Arts and Letters

'Ritual Series 2018' by Michael SingerExhibition

My son William and I installed a new sculpture by Michael Singer entitled 'Ritual Series 2018' at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City for their 2019 Invitational Exhibition.

This annual one-month event features contemporary artists from around the United States. This year's exhibit - March 7 to April 7, 2019 - featured 35 artists. Following the exhibit, nine received top awards. Award winners continued to exhibit for two more months and add one or two more artworks. This is considered the most prestigious award for visual art in the United States.

Installation

This sculpture by Mr. Singer is made of granite, copper foiled pine wood, cast aluminum, field stone, dirt-coated plywood, and copper leaf.

Michael Singer

A major element of all his sculpture is that horizontal pieces are level and verticals are plumb. The effect is a sense of calm and for me personally (and also from the comments of others) a sense that the entire piece is weightless, floating, and even otherworldly. Thus, great care is taken to place each and every piece of his sculpture precisely.

The gallery space is located at the Academy's Manhattan headquarters. It is the most beautiful exhibition space I have ever seen with antique tile floor and a ceiling made entirely of a glass skylight!

The installation took us 3 days.

Installation of 'Ritual Series 2018' by Michael SingerAwards

I'm pleased and honored to report that Michael was one of the top award recipients. His work of over 50 years - sculpture, drawings, architecture, and environmental design - so deserves it. See his wonderful artwork here. And for more details of the award click here.

seal of the American Academy of arts and LettersAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Charter members include William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Daniel Chester French, Childe Hassam, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Vedder, and Woodrow Wilson. The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues.

In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.

Below are more works by Mr. Singer.

An American Eagle in Havana

Bronze American Eagle in Havana

Off to Havana

My trip to Havana was the most fascinating to date! I was sent by the Cultural Heritage Office of our State Dept to wax a large bronze eagle with an amazing history. I was there for just a week, and it was the most alien place I’ve ever visited!

Cars in Havana Cuba

The roads are dominated by cars from the ’50’s and 60’s, and most look like new! The people are genuinely kind and friendly even to Americans who have made the Cuban economy more difficult to live in.

Though Cuban citizens have free education, medical care, and retirement with no visible poverty, drug problem, or prostitution, the $35 per month salary lasts about half the month. Everyone gets the same pay whether you’re a neurosurgeon or a housekeeper. What makes it work is a robust black market and ‘remittances.’

Here’s how it works as told to me by a local resident. She works at the local water department. Each week she brings home a 5-gallon jug of spring water. It’s not considered stealing but it is controlled – she can’t take more. Her neighbor works at the local bakery and likewise brings home several loaves of bread at the end of his work week. Other neighbors have other items. Each neighbor knows who has what, and so they all barter their goods and services.

Remittances refers to money that US and other foreign relatives send to their families in Cuba each month supplementing nearly every Cuban household with an extra hundred dollars or two. This seems to make ends meet and people seem genuinely unstressed about it, though I noticed a lack of efficiency at the airport as my colleague and I waited an hour for our bags. Fascinating.

Bronze Eagle

Equally fascinating is the story of the bronze eagle I went to work on.

The story begins in 1898 when the USS Maine, an American naval ship, exploded and sank in Havana Harbor. The event led to the Spanish-American War and the end of Spanish rule in Cuba. “Remember the Maine’ became a famous battle cry.

USS Maine

USS Maine in Havana Harbor

The explosion killed 260 of the Maine’s 400 sailors. What caused the explosion remains a mystery. Some say the ship hit a Spanish mine. Others say Cubans did it to draw the US into helping them expel their Spanish occupiers. Others maintain that powerful US business interests had a hand in it, to open up the island to business development. Still others say the munitions in the ship accidentally exploded.

The war lasted 4 months resulting in Cuban independence.

A grateful Cuban government commissioned a monument to honor those who died in the explosion. It was dedicated in 1926 and located on the harbor. Within a few months a hurricane blew the bronze eagle off the top. It fell to the ground and broke apart. A new bronze eagle was commissioned with a more aerodynamic design – upraised wings instead of flat – to withstand future storms.

Maine monument with original eagle

Monument with the original bronze eagle – note the flat outstretched wings.

 

Maine Monument

Second eagle – note the different wing design

The original eagle disappeared.

The Second Eagle

In 1959, the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro, ousted the authoritarian government of Batista and his US supporters and business interests. The second eagle was torn down from the top of the monument in 1961 around the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The body and wings are displayed in the Havana City History Museum. The museum exhibit and empty monument stand today as symbols of Cuba’s resistance to ‘American Imperialism.’ Interestingly, the head was somehow acquired by the Swiss government which was appointed the caretaker of the US Embassy and ambassador’s residence when the US was ousted by Castro. The Swiss presented the bronze eagle head to the returning US Ambassador when relations warmed in 2014. It is now displayed in the US Embassy in Havana.

Maine Monument on Havana Harbor

The monument as it appears today

Eagle Resurrection

Meanwhile, the first eagle mysteriously reappeared!

In 1954 it was presented to the US Ambassador in Havana by a group of Cuban and American business people “…who saw in its indestructibility a symbol of the enduring friendship between their countries.” Then in 2011, the US State Department commissioned Milner + Carr Conservation, LLC of Philadelphia – now Materials Conservation Collaborative – to repair the original cracks caused by its hurricane tumble in 1926. It is now displayed in the back yard of the ambassador’s residence.

Waxing a bronze sculpture

Havana Eagle Signage

Wax

I was asked to inspect the conservation work and do a thorough waxing. It’s in good condition with some rusting underneath the feet of the eagle. I used Butcher’s Paste Wax since the preferred product, carnauba wax, is not available in Havana and difficult to ship. Cleaning and waxing took 1 long day. I’ll be back in the near future to coat it with the longer-lasting Everbrite polymer I’m now using on all our outdoor metal sculptures.

Special Visitor

I’d like to call your attention to a fascinating response from a reader. Well, not just any reader! Her father was the US Ambassador to Cuba (Ambassador Willard L. Beaulac) from 1951 to 1953. Ms. Beaulac Zachor shares wonderful memories of Havana. I quote her generous comments with her gracious permission. A truly wonderful read!

The lovely bronze statue was snuggled up against a back wall of the residence and surrounded by enough greenery as to render the small area around him a private, shady spot where I sometimes sat for hours, enjoying the most pleasant reading experiences of my 80 years. From the photos above I can see that he’s been moved from that leafy and cozy location to an open, sunny spot of clipped hedges and hard-surfaced paths.

When next we have a US ambassador with children living at our residence in Havana, I hope the children will enjoy the presence of this beautiful bird in their garden as much as I did.

Thank you, Bob Hannum, for giving our dear eagle the care that is needed to preserve his splendid appearance, and for writing this article.
Joan Beaulac Zachor

October 2, 2018

Dear Ms. Beaulac Zachor,
Thank you immensely for sharing your recollections on my website. Beautifully told. Please please tell me more and may I add your words to my article? May I mention your name? I will not reveal where you live, for your security and privacy.
I would just love to hear more about your recollections of Havana and of your father’s work there. Do you retain any connections to Cuba after all this time? Have you ever returned?
Interestingly, I was so taken by the beauty of the residence and the grounds and the kindness of the local people who take great pride in caring for it, that I asked to stay there instead of a hotel next time I return and to my surprise and delight that was approved. But alas it will be a while before I get back given our present administration and the alarming sonic experiences of several American visitors and employees last fall.
The local people that I met were just wonderful to me – I was very surprised. As a contractor for the State Dept I am briefed before traveling to difficult places. So I went to Havana full of warnings and cautionary tales as you can imagine. But my experience was nothing but warm and friendly and safe.
I was fascinated by the day-to-day economics of barter and remittances and store shelves stocked with only a few items at a time. The strangest part of it is that it all seemed to work! People did not seem unhappy in general unless I was misreading.
So please take a moment when you can to share more of anything you remember about that time.
All the best,
Bob
October 9. 2018
American Eagle in CubaDear Mr. Hannum,
Thank you for your kind words about my note. I so enjoyed your article about attending to our beautiful eagle at the embassy and happy that you included a photo of him on the monument to the Maine, his first perch in Havana. I would be flattered if you added what I wrote in response. I’ve attached a few words here about my Havana of 65 years ago. I haven’t returned for a visit but I would love to.I agree that our residence and gardens in Havana are beautiful. I don’t suppose I have much to add about the residence that might interest you. But I can tell a little about living there, from a young girl’s perspective, that you might enjoy.

Like most of the grand houses in Country Club Park the residence had (almost) no air conditioning in the early fifties when we lived there. Its thick walls of Jaimanita stone and deep porches kept it well protected from the tropical sun, and its great tall windows and doors allowed the breezes through when opened. At some time air conditioning had been added to some of the larger upstairs rooms. My mother turned hers on from time to time and put on a sweater but it looked a little silly.

My sister, Noël, and I would catch little drifts of music at night through our open bedroom windows from an area with lively nightlife a mile or two away that would have been fun to visit. But young daughters of diplomats didn’t. Some nights I’d curl up on a couch in the first floor library (my favorite room with shelves and shelves of books) and nudge the needle back and forth across the dial of our Grundig radio catching bits of news or music from Miami. We’d not been able to tune in to US stations from Paraguay or Colombia where we’d lived before, and now in Havana, it was a happy treat when a station came through for long enough to play an entire song. I fell in love with the voice of Nat King Cole.

A wide hallway with cork flooring ran the length of the upstairs. It muffled the sound of our footsteps when we wore shoes and felt lovely — almost cozy–under our bare feet. At one end of the hallway, near my mother’s room, was an elevator and at the other end was a suite that we called “the presidential suite.” The story told was that the elevator was included when the residence was constructed in 1941 with the expectation that President Roosevelt would be visiting from time to time. And the presidential suite had been tailored to accommodate his wheelchair. President Roosevelt died four years after the residence was completed and never did visit there, but our house guests enjoyed hearing that they were staying in his suite. Unhappily for my mother, my sister and I used to tease her by forcing open the outer doors of the president’s elevator trapping her between floors. She bore it well.

Havana is in the tropics and there were a good number of bugs inside the house and outside. I visited the principal kitchen only twice. By day it was a lovely, busy space with Chef Sylvester reigning over his space in a marvelous hat that had to be a foot tall, while his second in command, Luís, in a less imposing hat, attended to beautiful vegetables laid out on large tables. A couple others who might have been staff or grocers looked quite pleased to be doing whatever it was they were doing, and curious to know why we were there. The second time I visited the kitchen was at night. Dark shiny creatures scurried across the floor when we turned on the lights, and disappeared into cracks and small spaces. The huge refrigerators were secured with padlocks so that enjoying a bit of ice cream or leftover soufflé at bedtime was an impossible dream.

Across the hallway from our bedroom (I shared a bedroom with Noël) was a wide open room, and broad balcony overlooking the simplest and prettiest part of the garden. This room was where we ate our breakfast. Our orange juice most often arrived from the kitchen with a barely visible number of minuscule ants trailing up the side of the glass and a few floating inside. It was nearly impossible to scoop them out. They were so, so very small that we simply drank our juice, tiny floating beings and all. Sometimes at night, my sister and I would turn on the lights in the pool and go swimming. We’d run on tiptoes down the path from the house trying to avoid the creatures that gathered on the warm surface after sundown. Occasionally a scorpion, but always tarantulas would fall into the pool at night, and they’d end up trapped in the gutter that ran around the edge of the pool. We’d grab onto the gutter after swimming across the pool or swimming underwater, but never were bitten.

At the rear of the property, behind a wall of tall hedge, was a good-sized kitchen garden where there was always something one could pick from a tree or bush or pull from the ground to nibble on, even if it was just a green onion. Our avocado trees were too beautiful to conceal behind a hedge and were planted in the landscaped portion of the garden. At Christmas the household servants would dig a pit in a corner of the kitchen garden and take most of a day to roast an entire pig there. Our family didn’t join in the pig roast but my parents engaged in gift-giving for the household and their children each year, at a gathering inside, around our Christmas tree.

Country Club Park was at a higher elevation than its surrounding neighborhoods. On Sunday mornings the family attended mass in a small church at the bottom of the hill, and we’d ride down in our family-owned non-limousine with my father at the wheel. He was a terrible driver and my mother would come close to hysterics as he hurtled toward a tiny, single-lane bridge near the bottom of the hill. He’d still be chuckling as he parked our ‘52 Buick Dynaflow and got out. Inside, on summery mornings, the church felt quite pleasant as everyone settled into their pews. Then the air would get warmer while the church got fuller, the men’s guayaberas would wilt damply, and the señoras would fan themselves vigorously. The sound of the fans striking their bosoms was quite wonderful.

My siblings and I attended Ruston Academy, a school that offered a choice of programs in English or Spanish, geared to those students who would be attending college in the US and those who would attend university in Cuba. The English classes were housed in a wonderful, slightly worn colonial building with two somewhat weathered courtyards and a long, open porch along one side of the building where we sat at long tables for lunch and study hall periods.  School dances took place in the larger courtyard, and chairs were set up along the perimeter for the Cuban chaperones who sat fanning themselves all evening while watching us dance with an eagle eye. The smaller courtyard had a fountain and a coin-operated coke machine. My sister and I had seen our first coin-operated coke machine on a dock in New York city when we’d arrived there by ship three years earlier, when a very ugly revolution had broken out in Colombia, and I was delighted that we had a machine just like it at school. I loved those ice-cold cokes in their thick glass bottles. (Yes, I’m that old.)

One morning during out first year in Havana, we learned at breakfast that Radio Reloj (a radio station that seemed always to be broadcasting the latest news and time of day somewhere in the back rooms of the residence) had reported that a revolution had occurred just before dawn. Cuba’s new president, Fulgencio Batista, had seized power without anyone firing a shot. Batista was already a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, but he was expected to lose. He chose not to wait for the people’s vote. Rumour had it that Batista woke the highest fellow in the military holding a gun to his head and demanded “Who is your generalísimo?” and the frightened fellow, still in pajamas, replied, “You are, my general.” And so the matter was settled. The newly ex-president, Carlos Prío Socarrás, was escorted to Miami a few days later. I don’t know if that’s exactly the way Batista pulled it off, but as revolutions go, it was a pretty boring coup. Rubén “Papo” Batista, son of the new president, didn’t learn that his father was president (second or third time around, depending on how you count Batista’s terms in power) until he heard it at Ruston later that morning.

In 1960, a year after Castro’s revolution, Dr. James Baker, headmaster of Ruston Academy in Havana, joined with Monsignor Bryan Walsh in Miami in hatching “Operation Peter Pan,” a secret plan that assisted over 14,000 unaccompanied children to flee Cuba. Castro’s revolutionary government had announced that the state would take legal control of children over the age of three for purposes of education and indoctrination and many parents who couldn’t leave Cuba, themselves, were frantic to get their children off the island. Dr. Baker delivered special visas and sometimes forged documents to families and helped them ship their children to Miami. Most of the Pedro Pan children were eventually reunited with their parents in the United States, but some parents never were able to leave Cuba. The Operation Pedro Pan Group maintains a database and network where Peter Pan adults are able to stay in touch and leave messages to others in their group or with family members. There is a description of Operation Peter Pan at Pedro_Pan_1960

I was happy to have a brief correspondence with Jim Baker in his later years. Although the Castro government had closed his beloved school in 1961, he wrote to me in 1999, that he was still planning for “a new Ruston Academy in the post-Castro era that will build a new, more democratic Cuba.” Jim was 92 years old at the time. His son, Chris, created a website for our Ruston Academy family, many of whom have kept in touch with each other, and a Ruston reunion, here in the US, is still held every few years.

Although Batista’s revolution of 1952 was less than exciting in my 13-year-old opinion, and although my sister and I were forbidden to attend Havana’s famous casinos and night clubs, a few experiences stand out in my memory, not as being extraordinary, but as interesting to me at the time: The first was the opening of a Five and Dime store downtown. It had the first escalator in the country, and crowds of enthusiastic people lined up on the first few days to ride on that marvelous moving stairway. People laughed and chatted their way up and down the stairway and I don’t think anyone rode it only once. We also attended a performance of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus when it traveled to Cuba, and I was thrilled to be offered a morsel of bread by Emmett Kelly, a sad-faced clown that my mother had told me was the very best and most original clown in the world with his tragic face and gloomy behavior. I was so taken with his lovely gloominess that I don’t remember any of the acts. And we rode the roller coaster on opening day of an amusement park that was reportedly financed by Lucky Luciano (it was no secret that US gangsters financed most of the hotels, clubs, and other entertainment in Havana, including the just opened amusement park). I hadn’t ever ridden a roller coaster before, and I was terrified when it began its ascent a second time without allowing its passengers to get off. I was terrified that Mr. Luciano had been careless about the safety of the rides, that the contraption was defective, and that I was going to be killed by a gangster who didn’t care who lived or died.

Taking my first sip of banana liqueur in the courtyard of a centuries-old convent, buying coco glacé (coconut ice cream in a coconut shell) on the Malecón, ordering stuffed avocado upstairs at the American Club in Havana’s historic section, and eating more than my share of Moro crab claws at cocktail parties at home are my happiest food memories. My nose memories are the smell of leather and alligator hides at the leather shop, the smell of chocolate at the H. Upmann cigar factory where women sat wrapping the very best, supple tobacco leaves around rolls of filler tobacco, and the tiny bottles of French fragrances that my mother bought at the Perfume Factory where sales were transacted in the open under a heavy thatched roof held up, so it seemed, by the tallest, most beautiful Royal Palms I’d ever seen.

A comment on the US Embassy office building downtown. We visited the embassy a number of times when it was being constructed. Each time my father would shake his head and mutter “Dear, dear. Dear, dear.” At least half of the outside surface was glass, and when finished would be the most modern building in Havana. The building was nicely situated near the Malecón, Havana’s beautiful oceanfront walk. There was a single small balcony, protected by bullet-proof glass, jutting out from my father’s office on the fifth floor. Except for my father’s exit onto his balcony and the entrances on the first floor, the building was enclosed by windows that were sealed shut, and the sun shone through those windows all day. Once the offices were occupied, the air conditioning wasn’t able to keep up with all that tropical sunshine. The building had to be evacuated whenever indoor temperatures became unbearable. The situation would prompt my father to mutter, “Those damned New York architects. Did they even visit Cuba?”

You asked about my father’s work. I imagine my father’s efforts in Cuba were largely directed at working with whomever was president or dictator to maintain a political climate that was stable and favorable to the operation of US owned businesses, and to trade, and to travel between the two countries. US investments and profits in Cuba were important to both, involving sugar production, manufacturing, transportation, communications, hotels, and entertainment. The only conversation I ever had with my father about Cuba’s politics and his role there, was my naive complaint that our government recognized Batista’s government too quickly after his illegitimate ascent to power. Of course my father was simply following instructions to protect US interests, and the decision to recognize Batista’s coup would not have been his to make, anyway.

My father used to say that both parties should come away from a negotiation feeling that they have achieved some measure of success. I include a link to my father’s record of a conversation with President Prío Socarás a few months after we arrived in Havana. It might give you an idea of how he worked. Amb. Beaulac – Pres. Prío Socarás

I’ve enjoyed your accounts of working for the state department repairing and restoring sculptures and other artwork around the world. What an interesting time you’ve had! If you do return to Havana and stay at the residence, I hope you’ll take some photos to share, and give my eagle a hug from an old friend.

My name is Joan Beaulac Zachor, and my sister to whom I refer is Noël Beaulac Peters. I wrote this recollection for her as well as for you. (I have another sister and a brother who are much younger and have their own memories of countries where my father served later on).

April 1, 2019

Dear Ms. Zachor,
I finally updated my story of the Havana eagle with all your wonderful recollections. Just want to thank you again for so generously sharing these wonderful memories. I too was struck by the tarantulas and lucky for us both, only visually!

So should any more memories arise or if you come across any photos, please please once again consider sharing them with me!

All the best,
Bob

April 3, 2019

Dear Mr. Hannum,
I’ve enjoyed corresponding with you. I hope you get back to Havana and have a lovely stay at the embassy residence. If, when you step out of the elevator, on the second floor you turn left and walk midway down the hall, the room on the left was my bedroom. If you continue to the end of the formal section of the hallway and then left again into your rooms, you’ll be in what we called the presidential suite. I hope you have a lovely time there. Before you leave, please give my eagle a loving pat on one of his broad wings, and whisper to him that I remember him well, and the happy hours that I spent reading in our leafy nook.

I hope you continue with your interesting work for many more years.

Kindest regards,
Joan Zachor

Stone Repair in Tokyo

This time it was back to Tokyo to repair the stone facade over the front door to our ambassador’s residence.

Stone Entrance US Ambassador's Residence Tokyo

Damage to stone after removal of roof

Stone Repair Detail - AMS

Detail of damage

Repair of US Ambassador's residence in Tokyo

Custom-made concrete insert and drip edge

Faux-stone painting by AMS

Final faux-stone painting of concrete and caulked seams

I’d been there twice before to repair a fountain and restore the broken fingers on a marble sculpture. This time I finally got to be an artist!