GUILD IN THE PRESS
New Orleanians tell CityBusiness why theyre not giving up on the
New Orleans City Business,
January 1, 2007
For many people whose homes flooded, the only salvageable objects from
their pre-Katrina lives are the paintings and photographs that hung
on their walls. Blake VonderHaar, 44, is president of the New Orleans
Conservation Guild, where 25 professional conservators have painstakingly
restored more than 5,000 of such works of art since Hurricane Katrina
In the business that Im in, its very rewarding. People
come in weeping when they drop something off. They tell you the whole
story, of how it was rescued, how long theyve had it. And when
they come back and pick it up, they weep for joy, VonderHaar said.
Originally from St. Louis, VonderHaar lived in 17 cities and five countries
before settling in New Orleans in 1997. She estimates that pre-Katrina
the Conservation Guild would restore about 900 pieces of art a year.
Since the storm, the operation has become the largest conservation lab
in the country.
VonderHaar said that after sneaking back to her Bywater business Sept.
20, 2005, she knew New Orleans was where she was staying.
In addition to the Conservation Guild, VonderHaar also oversees the
Bywater Art Market, held monthly in Mickey Markey Park, and New Orleans
Art Supply, also in the Bywater.
Before the storm, VonderHaars business mostly dealt with museums,
galleries and serious art collectors. Today, she sees all kinds.
From the little guy from Chalmette with his framed LSU memorabilia
to the Lakeview art collector, we are seeing everyone, she said.