Handpainted Japanese Paper, 1910
A small Japanese Pavilion sits on a lake in the Adirondacks. It was originally built as an dwelling house for the Fair Japan exhibit at the Pan American Exposition of 1910. Visitors saw painting and cooking demonstrations, and watched Geisha dancers and acrobats in the small three-room pavilion. The walls and ceilings were decorated with handpainted canvases depicting chrysanthemums, cranes and bamboo.
After the Exposition, the pavilion was brought to the lake and used as a summer cabin for many years. Never heated or air-conditioned it gradually fell into disrepair. Eventually the property was sold and the new owner made the decision to renovate and update the pavilion and to preserve all of the original artwork.
When the John Nalewaja and Jim Francis arrived, they found the previously charming cabin in such bad condition that they were unsure that the building could be saved, let alone the 100-year-old, hand-painted canvases. The Chrysanthemum room had fared particularly badly.
While a contractor worked to restore and update the building, John and his assistants carefully removed more than 100 pieces of hand-painted canvases, preparing them for cleaning and restoration.
The canvases were carefully numbered for reinstallation and the process of restoration began. Each inch of canvas was painstakingly cleaned by hand.
In the chrysanthemum room, the white paint had completely deteriorated, so two artists repainted more than 1,000 individual chrysanthemums.
The artwork for the crane and bamboo rooms was also cleaned and restored as required.
Once the cabin was climatized and rebuilt to the exact specifications of the original cabin, the canvases were reinstalled and then touched up on site.
The restoration of the cabin took a full two years and the restoration of the artwork took about a year. The fully restored, historic Japanese pavilion was ready to be used for another 100 years.