The Bluefish is New Tonight

In 1987, with funding from the Cambridge Arts Council, I was asked to paint a mural for a building in Inman Square, Cambridge. The painting was called “The Bluefish is Good Tonight”, as an homage to the original Legal Seafood restaurant that once stood on this site. The imagery also contained references to the vibrant jazz scene in the area.

It had faded badly over the years and I was ready to have the mural taken down since it had been on display for almost thirty years.  It turned out that it wasn’t so easy to remove the painting because the neighbors had grown attached to it and they still liked it, even though all of the reds and purples and much of the imagery had disappeared.  I was pleased to know that it was so well-loved, and I started to hope that a plan could be made to save the mural.

Rika Smith McNally, the director of the art conservation program at the Cambridge Arts Council, was determined to find a way to re-paint the mural, and she made it happen last week!  Before I could say “What is that huge thing in my studio?”, Rika and a team from USArt, George Hagerty and Alfred Zuniga, had moved the five panels to my studio.

George
George Hagerty and Alfred Zuniga removing aluminum panels from Inman Square building
Rika Smith McNally and Rory Beerits of Cambridge Arts Council, cleaning the mural
Rika Smith McNally and Rory Beerits of the Cambridge Arts Council, cleaning the mural to prepare the surface for painting with Golden acrylics.
Rika and Regina sap
Rika Smith McNally and Regina Gaudette applied a layer of Golden MSA resin varnish to the surface to prepare it for painting with Golden acrylics.

I am planning to re-paint all of the background colors, and then with the help of  assistants Jill Curtis, Rachel Newsam and Regina Gaudette, we will trace the shapes and patterns back in place and repaint them.  On Rika’s recommendation we are using Golden 100% acrylic emulsion colors which are rated for excellent lightfastness.

Painting bright colors over faded areas.
Here I am painting bright colors over faded areas.
Coloful backgrounds ready for patterns to be added.
Coloful backgrounds ready for patterns to be added.
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