Restoration work begins on 'Sun Forces' mural

Published August 16, 2018

The paint chips that were collected were small, microscopic in size. Yet, the minute samples will serve as the basis for a large undertaking by the University Art Museum and two other organizations.

Conservation work began this week on “Sun Forces”, a 22-by-21-foot mural that hangs between the Liberal Arts 5 and Faculty Office 3 buildings. The painting, done by artist Rita Letendre for the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium at Long Beach State, has faded over the years and needs a facelift.

The UAM, in partnership with The Getty Conservation Institute and RLA Conservation of Art & Architecture, will lead the project that has included six other campus artwork restorations.

The microscopic samples were taken to the Getty Conservations Institute, where they will be analyzed in preparation to conserve the mural that will begin next summer. According to Maria J. Coltharp, UAM registrar and curator of Permanent Collection, the process includes determining what kind of paint was used, its chemical composition, what is underneath the current coat and condition of the stucco.

“As you can see, there are those drips beneath the paint and we need to know what caused them,” Coltharp said. She said the mural got a fresh coat of paint sometime in the 1970s.

The Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association provided a grant to conserve the 53-year-old mural that sports angular shapes in black, green and yellow.

The 1965 California Sculpture Symposium was a major milestone in the collaboration of art and technology. The event was organized by former professor Kenneth Glenn and artist Kosso Eloul, who looked to create innovative sculptures using new industrial materials and technologies.

“Sun Forces” was one of nine sculptures were installed in 1965, becoming the nucleus the current 21 pieces that can be found on campus.