Work to restore communication mural
What it is: The 1,287-square-foot sculpted mural covering the outside of The Gazette's downtown building is getting a needed face lift.
World-famous artist Constantino Nivola's creation in sand and concrete depicts the history of communication from Stone Age drawings and Arabic lettering through print, radio, television and satellites.
Nivola was commissioned for the bas-relief in 1968, and the first of the 33 sculpted panels was hoisted onto the building above the main entrance in June 1970, according to Gazette archives.
Each panel—anchored into the building—weighs about one ton and is 6 to 8 inches thick.
The focal point of the sculpture is a large central panel, which Nivola termed, "The audience, the recipients of the media of communication and information," according to newspaper archives.
Why the work is needed: Natural weathering has left the mural in desperate need of repair.
Spots of the fine finish have broken away, leaving the white base layer visible.
If left untreated, the art will deteriorate beyond repair.
The sculpture was cleaned at one point, but restoration was put off longer than it should have been, said Sidney H. "Skip" Bliss, owner and CEO of Bliss Communications.
"This was something that was becoming more and more apparent that we're going to lose it if we don't do something to preserve it," he said.
It's one of those projects that just need to be completed, Bliss said of the $45,000 project.
"This is just one of those things where you have to keep your building up," he said.
J.P. Cullen & Sons of Janesville started work last week by installing protective fencing and scaffolding. Caulk removal is scheduled to start today.
Donna Haberman of Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis will lead the restoration beginning Saturday with expected completion by the end of June. A sealant will be applied to the finish to help protect it from further weather deterioration.
"It's going to look much better when she's done with it," Bliss said.