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Conserving Jake Lee: Restoration & Repair of the Legacy Paintings

July 9, 2011 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

A Presentation of Second Saturdays at CHSA on July 9, 2011 at 1pm

In this special presentation as part of the Finding Jake Lee exhibit programming, Art Conservator Karen Zukor will discuss in literal detail how the conservation treatment was accomplished and why it was essential to remove each image from its original mount. Attendees of this program are in for a rare treat with special insight & analysis of this rare conservation process.

In the early 1960s, restaurateur Johnny Kan commissioned a series of water color paintings by artist Jake Lee. For many years, these stunning paintings hung in the private Gum Shan (“Gold Mountain”) dining room of the landmark Kan’s Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. In subsequent years, the paintings disappeared for a mysterious period, before they were acquired by CHSA at an auction last year.

The Jake Lee watercolors are an important legacy for the Chinese in California, but as artworks, they presented some conservation problems. All the images were painted on heavyweight boards of poor quality and stored for a long time in a damp environment. As a result, they suffered from mildew and spotting; there was both an odor and a discoloration evident on these vibrant paintings.

Karen Zukor (of zukorartconservation.com) and her staff removed them from their acidic boards, deactivated the mildew and reduced the spotting. The paintings can now be displayed and enjoyed, without concern about continuing damage.

Each Jake Lee painting showcases specific aspects and milestones in early Chinese American history, including scenes of San Francisco’s Chinatown, railroad-building in the Sierra Nevadas, Sonoma wine country, cigar & lantern factories, and the 1888 champion Chinese fire-hose team of Deadwood, South Dakota. These paintings are currently on view at CHSA.

The “Conserving Jake Lee” talk at 1 pm is free with admission to the CHSA Museum that day. At 12 noon, Executive Director Sue Lee will conduct a special “Finding Jake Lee” tour for those interested for $10. Space is limited for this event. Please call (415)391-1188 x101 or email info@chsa.org to RSVP or with any questions.


July 9, 2011
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


CHSA Museum