“The Dream” Painting
We can only hope life will imitate art.
Troy Lucas of Vancouver, who restores damaged paintings, is repairing a huge oil painting of R.A Long’s concept of Longview. “The Dream” shows the timber baron’s long-term vision: a small but sparkling metropolis with a cluster of skyscrapers.
The painting languished for years in the library at R.A. Long High School. Then last year, the RAL Alumni Association rescued it, said Dee Whyte of Longview, a ‘60 grad who serves on the club’s board.
The four-year-old group restored several artworks after the school librarian, Joan Enders, pointed out their dilapidated condition.
Members raised more than $6,000 for the project. Kitty Ross of Frame Work Gallery referred them to Lucas, who in 2004 restored portraits of Robert A. and Ella Long for the Longview Public Library.
The artist who painted “The Dream,” Robert Wadsworth Grafton, is a “very important artist,” Lucas said.
Grafton lived from 1876 to 1936 and was a “prolific landscape, genre and portrait painter” who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Academie Julian in Paris, and in Holland and England, according to an art auction Web site.
After all these years, Grafton’s RAL painting wore a film of grime. Near the bottom, a torn hole the size of a quarter suggested that “it got poked and somebody fiddled with it,” Lucas said.
When he finishes with the restoration, “it will have a clear synthetic resin on it” that can last up to 50 years. “It will look exactly like it did when it was painted.”
Above a picket fence and a few wood-frame buildings at Long’s first lumberyard in Columbus, Kansas – Mr. Long leans in a doorway – Longview appears as a vision in billowing clouds, complete with mill smokestacks and tall buildings.
He did build his vision, and did it in his 70s. But the Depression put the brakes on the planned city, and Longview’s founder died in 1934. Prosperity returned, but a series of recessions in the last two decades of the century kept Long’s ultimate urban fantasy from materializing.
Today it’s materializing – visually at least – under Lucas’s skilled hands.
The painting will be mounted in its frame, which is being restored by Marvella McPartland of Portland.
Excerpts from an article by Cathy Zimmerman