An estimated 90 percent of the Joe Downing paintings housed at the estate of Jerry Baker are not seriously damaged. But WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff in an email this morning that nearly all of the paintings sustained smoke damage.
Dr. Ransdell said WKU Planning, Design, and Construction staff members are working with restoration experts and insurance professionals to start the recovery process for the museum building and the art.
Downing is a Hart County native who is one of only a few Americans that have an exhibit shown at the Louvre in Paris, France. He lived most of his adult life in France and was inspired by the natural beauty of the French countryside. He died in 2007 at his country home in the town of Menerbes.
WKU Art Department Head Brent Oglesbee says Downing’s work stands out because of its unique style, and use of color and pattern.
Art lovers across the region are holding their breath and hoping that paintings damaged in a Bowling Green fire can be salvaged. The fire Thursday morning at the Downing Museum at Baker Arboretum led to the evacuation of the world's largest collection of paintings by the late artist and Hart County native Joe Downing.
Art restoration experts will now have to inspect the damaged paintings and recommend what, if anything, can be done to save the pieces that were damaged.
WKU President Gary Ransdell says the fact that over 90 percent of the art in the building was removed before it was damaged is a testament to the staff members on the scene.
"They were actually going into a building that was on fire to get artwork out. It was pretty amazing to see multiple staffs, including WKU staff, coming together to avoid what could have been a tragic, tragic, situation," said Dr. Ransdell."
The WKU President says the Downing Museum art is now being housed at the school's campus.
"All of the artwork has now been transported to the Kentucky Building, and is in storage and is protected. The art that has been damaged by smoke and water is over in the services supply building where the art restoration experts will look them over and determine what needs to be done immediately, and what needs to take place over time.
Bowling Green, Ky – Horse Cave native and renowned artist Joe Downing passed away in late December at the age of 82. In this selection of archived interviews, Downing recalls his childhood in Kentucky. He also discusses his many works that will be displayed in the Jerry Baker museum planned for Bowling Green.