The Harn Museum of Art is home to 45 original pieces by Indian artist, Jamini Roy, which ranks as one of the largest public collections by the artist outside of India.
Several of those precious paintings have seen better days.
Rebecca Nagy, Ph.D., director at the Harn Museum of Art, called art preserver Rustin Levenson when the artwork by modern Bengali painter started to look worse for wear.
Levenson, who owns multiple studios, studied art restoration and understands the delicate process of conserving a valuable work of art. She also understands the risk involved.
“I don’t want people to think that because you’re an artist, you can just pick up a paintbrush and fix art,” Levenson said. “It could go well, but it could go really badly.”
Levenson said that selecting the paintings most in need of care was a difficult process.
“We had to decide what our priorities were,” Levenson said. “Which ones needed urgent care.”
Once proposals were drafted, Nagy applied for the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation grant and the museum was awarded $50,000, Levenson said.
The preservation initiative began in 2009 at the Harn where curators dedicated their time to assess each painting for damages and unstable conditions.
“Part of our mission here at the Harn is not only to display works of art, but also to conserve them,” said Tami Wroath, director of marketing and public relations.
The Harn has an in-house conservation lab where professionals like Levenson can work to preserve artwork one piece at a time.
The grant only covered part of the restoration expenses for the Jamini Roy project. The rest were donated by Levenson’s studio ArtCare.
“We matched the grant,” Levenson said.
Levenson and her team have completed seven of the 11 planned restorations. The paintings are scheduled to return to their home at the museum next week.
“We loved working on these paintings,” Levenson said. “He’s such an exciting artist so it was a pleasure to be able to fix them.”