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Marriage of Art, Science

Conservationist loves chemistry between paintings, biology

The San Angelo Standard-Times, July 22, 2003
Marriage of Art, Science
Conservationist loves chemistry between paintings, biology
By Bryan Russell, Staff Writer

In the field of art conservations, some credit Anne Zanikos as a lifesaver.

Zanikos, from San Antonio, has operated a private practice in art conservations for 14 years with a specialty in conserving paintings and frames. She restores dingy relics to their original splendor and gives them a second chance at immortality, but it's not always a simple endeavor.

"I find it rewarding to restore something back to its intended visual impact," she said. "It all boils down to being an advocate for the object, but there are some sleepless nights when I struggle with the best treatment decision."

Zanikos will speak on art conservations at a lecture at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts. During the presentation she will discuss the anatomy of a painting and the steps of treatment as well as tips on the general care of artwork.

Zanikos said the principle ethic in art conservation is to preserve the artist's vision.
"We always try to retain and respect the artist's intention as opposed to imposing our tastes, opinions on the object," she said. Some of the pieces Zanikos has restored are in San Antonio's Witte and McNay Art museums as well as other institutions across South Texas.

Zanikos entered the field in a roundabout way. She has a background in science that includes marine-biology research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry and began pursuing art conservation while working in California's Mission Santa Clara's archives. She said her career choice is a perfect blend of her interests.

"It's a marriage of my interests," Zanikos said. "I've always had a love of art and a love for problem solving and the intricate ways that materials work together and behave.
"I'm a scientist. I don't make art, though I wish I could. I approach it from a scientific perspective, and I get to apply it to beautiful, creative pieces of art."

She trained with conservators throughout Texas including Richard White, Perry Huston and the conservation staff at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. Zanikos is a professional associate in the American Institute of Conservation and has served as the chair of the Conservators in Private Practice Group.

Zanikos offered several tips to maintain and conserve art so it lasts a lifetime.
"Storage is important. You want to look for as stable an environment as possible, to avoid putting the object in direct ultraviolet light, air-conditioning and heating ventilation and exercise caution if when handling the piece. Zanikos said art collectors should contact a professional conservator if their paintings show sign of canvas distortion such as dent, bulges and drawn corners or flaking paint.
To find a conservator, Zanikos recommends contacting the American Institute for Conservation at