Faith Hope and Charity in Winona, Minnesota

 

I was hired by the City of Winona in 2014 to temporarily store all of their scenery into an onstage storage unit. Paul Sannerud was the certified rigger that gently lowered the drops to the stage floor.  The purpose of the project was to safeguard their 1909 painted scenery collection while the building was underwent extensive repairs.  The roof had leaked for years, causing unsightly water damage on most of the drops.  Streams of water had run down the stage left, center, and stage right sides to the point that raw fabric was often visible and the dye rings were extreme!  During our project it rained heavily one day and the roof leaked – again.  Luckily, the drops in that area had been removed and we simply watched a puddle of rainwater appear on the stage floor. After all of the scenes were removed we were able to identify the leak as and we could clearly see the sky from the stage floor!!!  I have some doubt that these scenes will ever be restored and hang under stage lights.  They are heavily damaged and will be extremely expensive to repair. The building has also been considered for venues that could not support the need for this historic scenery collection. Therefore, I am starting with some painting details from the 1909 Sosman & Landis installation, specifically details from the 18th degree (Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry).  Scenic studios typically labelled this scene as the “Constellation.”  The reason for this label is that the words Faith, Hope, and Charity appear in the night sky as stars. Over time, members of the Fraternity (in all areas of the country) attempt to make the original stage effects BETTER. In the case of the translucent areas for the revelation of words, they apply paint on the backside of the drop to prevent light from leaking when backlit. Light will appear in worn areas of fabric; the application of an opaque product on the back will prevent this problem.  This works great – on NEW drops, not old dry pigment drops.  In the case with Winona, this application of new paint caused two unfortunate consequences: the fabric both shrunk and these sky areas were discolored.  The application of a liquid may cause an original dry pigment painted surface to “blossom” (my term). Sometimes there are granules of undissolved pigment in the original paint coat; granules that were never fully mixed into the original color.  Adding liquid on top of this type of paint (or under this paint from the backside of the drop) will cause these hidden granules of color to “blossom” on the painted surface.  Here is an example of a warm dry pigment color that “blossomed” in the blue night sky when it was back-painted.

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