James Walker, a California metalsmith who described himself as “an advocate for bronze plaques and memorials,” wrote after reading my story today about the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s plan to restore the George Westinghouse memorial in Schenley Park.
“Mr. [Rich] Ekstrom’s statement about the memorial being a powerful work of art that should be cherished is exactly the sentiment I am trying to foster," he wrote. "When people take an interest in these cultural icons, and regularly maintain them, it saves, or at least reduces the cost of restoring them, and keeps an important memory alive for future generations.”
He has a project called Operation Rediscover to encourage “a grass-roots involvement of locating, caring for, and sharing information about memorials, especially bronze plaques and memorials,” he wrote.
On his web site, he writes:
"I’ve been interested in historic sites as long as I can remember. It was probably passed on to me by my parents who made it a point to visit them whenever we were traveling. Reading the bronze plaques made history become more alive, and gave me a sense that it is important to understand why they were created. When you study them, you find that they each are a unique art object in their own right, with a unique story to tell.
"Eventually I began noticing the condition of the bronze plaques at these locations; that the vast majority of them have badly deteriorated, making them hard to read. This gives the impression that they are no longer relevant. I began thinking that someone should do something to fix this problem. And then, since I am a metalsmith specializing in repairing, preserving, restoring metalware (with a dozen years’ experience operating a small bronze foundry), around 1998 I decided to take up the cause."