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Arthur Kraft Rediscovered

We were so thrilled to begin work on a rediscovered mural by Kansas City artist Arthur Kraft. Here is a little snippet from an article titled "Psychiatric Museum Exhibit Builds Momentum For The Comeback Of Kansas City Artist Arthur Kraft"

Peggy Van Witt, of Van Witt Fine Art Conservation, carefully cleans a large mural by Arthur Kraft.

The oil on canvas depicting downtown Kansas City and the Missouri River was discovered back in 1983, beneath a layer of drywall during a renovation of the old Ambassador Hotel. It was restored in the 1980s but was in danger of being thrown away when the hotel underwent major renovations in 2014.

The developers called Peggy Van Witt, of Van Witt Fine Art Conservation, who carefully removed the thin canvas from the wall. The mural spent several years rolled up in her studio before she found time to tackle the daunting 25-foot by 3 1/2-foot painting.

“That’s what we do," Van Witt says. "I love preserving art. If it’s in my studio, it's going to get repaired. I just can’t not do it.”

Late last year, Van Witt partnered with Zahner to build an aluminum core lining to stabilize the large work. Then Van Witt began the painstaking task of carefully cleaning and restoring the mural. She says the mural shows Kraft's command of the medium and is worth saving.

Van Witt says Kraft's massive painting of downtown Kansas City and the Missouri River shows his command of the medium and is worth saving.

"I think he had some personal problems with the alcohol, but gosh, he was an absolute genius," she says. "There’s no struggle in any of this. This was knocked out in a day or two. And that’s how you can tell a great artist. Are they struggling with the little lines or are there big arm movements? He laid it down and it's done. That’s what I love about him because it’s so freeing."

"Sounds of Fury," Arthur Kraft's paintings, through July 16 at the Glore Psychiatric Museum, 3406 Frederick Ave., St. Joseph, Missouri.

Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her on Twitter, @juliedenesha.

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