When Alan Sonfist’s California Earthquake came to the Paintings Conservation department for treatment, my first thought was: This graphite drawing on canvas is more a drawing on a textile than it is a painting. As such, the artwork fell between conservation specialties, and its treatment required collaboration among the Paintings, Paper, and Textiles Conservation departments at the Museums.
This drawing on canvas was born from Sonfist’s idea that natural disasters should be honored as historical events. Here, the artist immortalized in pencil the seismograms for two earthquakes, which occurred in October 1, 1969 in Santa Rosa, CA. The selection of this piece for the exhibition Wild West: Plains to the Pacific prompted the assessment of several creases that cut across the drawing and were visually distracting.