Robert Krueger, '09
After graduating in 2009, I returned to my hometown of Portland, Oregon to live with my wife, our two greyhounds, and our orange tabby cat in our little white bungalow. I promptly registered my business, Cascadia Art Conservation Center, LLC and began transforming the detached garage into my lab. In March, before the lab was completed, our son, Kalman, was born.
Prior to attending SUNY Buffalo, I worked as the collections manager for the arts council in Portland and in my free time created and showed my own artwork. My job at the arts council offered the introduction to the field of conservation and the need for conservators in the Northwest. When I left Portland for Buffalo, my goal after graduating was to return to Portland, start my own private conservation practice to work with public art collections, and help fill the conservation needs in the Northwest.
Since purchasing our home 6 years ago, the detached garage was my sculpture studio. After graduation I said good-bye to the studio and began converting it into a conservation lab built to current conservation lab standards. The garage was stripped down to the frame and re-built. The former detached garage is now an energy efficient climate controlled modern conservation lab with proper exhaust ven- tilation , 50,000 Kelvin lighting throughout and a view of our garden.
Though my budget was tight, my goals for the lab were lofty. To save money I did most of the work myself including researching equipment. The handouts on equipment from Dan Kushel’s class served as a valuable guide. I installed a split system ductless heat-pump, exhaust fan, plumbing, electrical, and a humidifier, and unlike Stephanie, I had a contractor do all the sheet-rocking. Most of the equipment was purchased online or second-hand. I built and installed custom cabinets and laminated the countertops with Formica. A year after launching Cascadia Art Conservation Center, business is picking up and getting in the way of putting the finishing details on minor things like cabinet doors, but the lab is now fully functional.
Having a connection to the local art scene through my past work with the arts council and as an artist was integral in making contacts when I began offering my services. Building an informative website has been a huge boost in getting the business going. To date, I’ve been so busy working that I have not yet had a chance to do much outreach. I have also continued a research project I began during my third year at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO, on fountain maintenance. At the 2010 American Institute for Conservation (AIC) meeting in Milwaukee, I presented a paper on this subject.
I couldn’t have accomplished any of this if it wasn’t for the understanding and endless support from my wife Alyssa, the Professors and staff in the Conservation department, and Jonathan Thornton for not only being a great professor, but also helping me find a third year internship that was invaluable in working towards my goals.