CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Don't be alarmed if you see a scruffy-looking guy prowling around the city's outdoor sculptures and murals.
Jim Gwinner is just doing his job, compiling an inventory of about 50 pieces of public art.
An employee of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio, Gwinner expects to spend the rest of this week compiling information for the database he plans to give the city this summer.
He apologized for his casual dress -- shorts and T-shirt -- on a day when temperatures approached 90 degrees.
"It's really uncomfortable work. You find yourself going to places other people wouldn't dream of."
Moments later he climbed into one of the drained fountains in the Veterans Memorial so he could measure the height of the Korean War statue. That's just the start of what he does at each site.
"What we're doing is a sweep: number one, list the works, where's they're installed, how they're installed -- on a plinth [a stone base], on the ground, on a wall," he said.
"If it's a plinth, identify the material. This one [the female veteran] is sandstone, I think. The coal miner is on granite. The reason is if something happens to it, if a car hits it, you know what was there.
"Then the condition, not just the plinth. If there's a coating on the work, how thick is it, and the condition of the coating." He determines Joe Mullins coated the female veteran with a sulfurated potash, creating the bronze patina.
"We'll photograph the work from all angles, note any nomenclature. I typically take measurements."
The plinth under the female vet is inset with four bronze plaques, he notes. "This has some sort of clear coat." With a hand-held device, he measures the thickness -- 1.1 mm.
"It's very critical with coated works to know the thickness for wear, durability and to see if it's applied correctly.
"It's like a snapshot in time of what a particular piece looks like.
"I also like to take a general note of where it's installed, if lighting is present."