It is amazing what a new coat of paint can do for a place, and the Fife Opera House is getting a full makeover to bring its original colors and designs back to life.
Greg Vincent, president of A-1 Painting Inc., Mooresville, Ind., and Senior Projects Manger Mark Burchfield, have been working since Jan. 14 on painting the upstairs theater of the Fife Opera House in Palestine.
For the past couple of months Vincent has been experimenting with cleaning techniques as well as paint color and design. Retired art teachers Joan Fulling, Penny Lycan and Juanita Jochim collaborated with Vincent to get the right colors and designs. An area in the southeast corner was used to test colors and designs.
"Now that we have it worked out everything will go much faster," Vincent said.
The paint scheme uses 12 colors and features decorative panels, medallions and flowering borders lined with a dentil (toothlike) pattern. Stencils were made to duplicate the original design, and they have tried to match the original colors, but being made from tempera paint, some have been difficult to match. Others just don't seem to go together well.
The main color remains a dark pink with greens and browns making up the frames of panels and the border. Mauves and lavenders were used for the flowers, and a reflective gold sparkles along the light rail.
Fulling noted that the flowers in the border originally had green leaves surrounding them. The new design uses a similar color to enhance the flower part of the design.
Vincent said he noticed several oddities and deficiencies in the original painting once they started work on the century-old building. Vincent said the dentil shadow goes counterclockwise around the ceiling. He noticed the way the details are painted around the stage area and the murals show the light coming from the left instead of from the center working out. He has also noticed several places were paint was not finished.
Dips and curves in the old building cast odd shadows and makes lines look crooked, Vincent said. He noted that while working on the border around the ceiling he was inches from touching, and in one place he hit his head.
Vincent said they start by brushing down the walls then using a HEPA-filtered vacuum to get all of the loose particles. The walls receive a coat of primer, then the base coat of pink. Laser leveling tools are used to mark lines. Measurement were taken to replace the panel and other designs back in their original places.
One area near the east staircase will be left original to show what it looked like before remodeling, and brown paint will cover areas to later be wainscoted.
Fulling said they hope to have the painting done for an upcoming wedding scheduled at the Fife.