Restoration of Sao Jose Church

Special thanks to Carolina Proenca, director of the Sao Jose church renovation project, and to Susanna Melo, who wrote the blog.In all of the churches in Ouro Preto, there’s a sign saying, “No photography,” and in case you miss these signs, there are “guards” who will remind you of the rule. Of course, initially we were disappointed because we love to take pictures, and the inside of the churches are colorful, beautiful, and historical. But we got used to the idea.

After climbing a steep hill, we discovered that the Sao Jose Church was undergoing a complete renovation. Seeing Bruna carefully apply paint to damaged areas of a wall painting, we asked her if we could photograph her. She said we would need to check with her supervisor. When we found Carolina Proenca, she inquired about the purpose of our photography. We informed her of the blog and that we enjoy writing and photographing our daily activities. To our surprise and joy, Carolina not only gave us permission to photograph the restoration, but she also gave us a tour and explained the process.

Nine individuals have been restoring the church since April last year and the crew intends to finish by Sao Jose’s day in March 2012.  We saw workers replacing wide wooden plank floors that had been damaged by termites.  Others were removing layers and layers of old paint in order to discover the original designs and colors buried under them. Lucia, Flavia and Angela were repainting the woodwork of the high altarpiece crown. Denise was using gold leaf from Italy to gild the carvings. In the photo you will notice that she is cutting the gold leaf into pieces, which she will apply in small patches here and there. This method of working economizes on the gold and it intentionally shows that the church was restored rather than completely re-gilded.

Sao Jose Church; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Bruna restoring a painting; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Carolina Proenca; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Lucia adding paint; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Fixing wood sculptures; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Denise cutting gold before applying it with a brush; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

The oldest theater in the Americas

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

The Teatro Municipal de Ouro Preto is the oldest theater in the Americas. It was built by Colonel Joao Souza Lisboa at a cost of 16,000 reais and was initially called the Opera House in Vila Rica. The theater had its period of greatest activity around 1820 with weekly shows, and it is still in operation.

According to the plaque on the theater: “Plays by Claudio Manuel da Costa, Minas Gerais’ greatest 18th century poet and “father” of colonial dramaturgy, were staged here. It also served as an entertainment venue for the local elite and was stage to political acts.”

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Fun in Ouro Preto

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Rains and mist in Ouro Preto

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Mudslides in Ouro Preto

Due to extremely heavy rains, hillsides are collapsing in Ouro Preto and throughout the southern part of Brazil; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

 

Half of Ouro Preto's bus station caved in, and two taxi drivers were killed in the mudslide; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Artists of Ouro Preto

Roberto Lima; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Tunico dos Telhados; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Rose; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Glaucio Caldeira; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Colonial Ouro Preto

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012