Volume 15, Number 1, Jan 1993, p.10,

In Memorium: Harvey Jack Lucas

by Sonja L. Sopher


Jack Lucas became interested in painting conservation through his work as a gilder and framer. He saw a great deal of damage done to works of art by previous improper framing. In addition, the generally poor condition of the art objects which came to his shop caused him concern. With the encouragement of Dr. Francis Newton, then Director of the Portland Art Museum, Jack apprenticed with Edmond de Beaumont at the Museum in the early 1960s. He opened his own painting conservation lab, known as the Lucas Conservation Laboratory, in 1964.

A new regional conservation facility at the Portland Art Museum was launched in 1972 with Jack's help, and he was subsequently retained as associate conservator there until 1976.

Jack had a reputation for being an inventive and skilled conservator. He was a pioneer in the field of conservation in the Northwest, introducing many institutions and individual collectors to conservation concepts and concerns. He designed and built examination tables, spray booths, and at least three vacuum/hot tables during his career. The original table built for the Portland Art Museum in 1973 is still used there. He created a number of hand tools designed to facilitate conservation-specific tasks.

Almost every museum, gallery, and university in the Northwest, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum, Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum, Reed College, and the Henry Gallery at the University of Washington, has depended upon Jack's conservation acumen at one time or another.

Personally, Jack was a delightful character. Anyone who knew him would tell you that. Above all, he loved a good joke or an amusing anecdote. With Jack, laughter was a high priority. He was also caring and giving. He was never too busy to help a colleague with a problem or to encourage someone new to the field of conservation. He was one of those rare individuals who could put anyone at ease. His ego never overshadowed his warmth or sense of humor. Professionally, he was meticulous and sensitive. Jack's knowledge of artists' materials and techniques was voluminous. It was always an illuminating experience to discuss a conservation problem with him.

Jack Lucas was born February 26, 1926. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and graduated from the Portland Art Museum School in 1951. He was a founding member of the Western Association for Art Conservation and a fellow of the American Institute for Conservation. Jack died of cancer on September 22, 1992. He is survived by his wife, Jane, sons Troy and Jordan, sister, Lyla Elgin, and granddaughter, Tiffany.

Jack's business, Lucas Conservation Laboratory, Inc., will continue to provide conservation services to the Pacific Northwest under the leadership and skill of Jane Lucas and Troy Lucas.

Sonja L. Sopher
Portland Art Museum
1219 Southwest Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205-2486

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