Oak Park’s Unity Temple takes a restoration studio tour
Andrzej Dajnowski in his Forest Park studio. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
‘Rescue Me: Tour of
Conservation of Sculpture
and Objects Studio’
Sponsored by Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., Oak Park
7 p.m. Aug. 29
Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation; tickets are $15, $12 for foundation members
(708) 383-8873 or visit www.utrf.org
Updated: August 6, 2012 7:47PM
Appreciation is often in the details. That is why fine arts fans won’t want to miss a behind-the-scenes studio tour with a leader in art restoration, Andrzej Dajnowski, founder of the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio in Forest Park.
“Rescue Me: Tour of Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio” will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, as part of the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation’s “break :: the :: box” lecture series.
World-recognized Dajnowski will lead the tour and explain how he and his crew use both traditional and cutting-edge methods to save treasures ranging from Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain to Civil War-era statues, Roman marbles and architectural sites.
“We work on almost anything sculptural or sculpture-art related,” Dajnowski said, noting that conservation projects currently in his studio include works by Chicago sculptor Edgar Miller from the Chicago Housing Authority’s Robert Taylor Homes, sculptures from the University of Chicago, and pieces from private collections. Visitors on the tour will also be able to see work in progress on the famous bronze Alma Mater statue from the University of Illinois.
Dajnowski first studied art restoration as a teenager in Poland. In the business for 35 years, he employs eight people and recently completed a doctorate degree focused on use of laser technology to remove graffiti, corrosion and other impurities from architectural monuments.
His use of laser is one reason why Dajnowski is enlisted to work on large-scale sculptural conservation projects across the country, including removal of graffiti from prehistoric pictographs in caves at Huaco, Texas.
That project, which spans years, is the only one in the world of its kind of which Dajnowski is aware. Its unique challenge involved being able to assure Native Americans connected to the caves that he could clean the pictographs without touching them.
In addition to also having worked for the U.S. government on conservation projects at historic sites across the country, Dajnowski has conserved sculptures by a long list of artists, including Pablo Picasso, Anish Kapoor, Lorado Taft, Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.
In Oak Park, recent projects include recreating the 72 brass letters that were stolen from the east and west facades of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple and conserving the World War I memorial sculpture in Scoville Park, for which he earned a 2011 Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission Award.
Sculpture aficionados will appreciate another gem in Dajnowski’s studio: one of the one-ton bronze bull statues created by American artist Daniel Chester French in the 1890s that was stolen in the 1980s from Garfield Park.
After its loss, Dajnowski was charged with creating a replica for the park. More than 20 years later, the original bull resurfaced. After helping confirm its authenticity, Dajnowski purchased the bull and has had it in
his studio for two years.
“I am looking forward to having people see what I do,” Dajnowski said, adding, “The tour is scheduled to be 20 to 30 minutes long but will probably take two or three times that.”