Zoltan Sepeshy’s "Hauling in the Net" WPA-Era Mural: History and Conservation

Sunday, August 9th 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Cranbrook Virtual Program
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304


$35 per Viewer
Lecture will be Password-Protected – Registration is Required
Registration Closes at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 9

Presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research in collaboration with the Beaver Island Historical Society
Proceeds will benefit the educational programs of both Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and the Beaver Island Historical Society.

Gregory Wittkopp, Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
Kenneth B. Katz, Painting Conservator and Owner, Conservation & Museum Services, Detroit
Lori Taylor-Blitz, Executive Director, Beaver Island Historical Society

Deborah Rice, Head Archivist, Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research


The program focuses on the New Deal-era mural, Hauling in the Net, painted for the Lincoln Park Post Office in 1940 by Zoltan Sepeshy, Cranbrook Academy of Art’s second Director and President (1946–1966) and an Artist-in-Residence (1931–1966). Commissioned in 1939 through one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the “Section of Fine Arts,” the mural hung in the Lincoln Park Post Office until 1967, when it made its way to an island in the middle of northern Lake Michigan. For the past fifty-three years, the mural has been cared for by the Beaver Island Historical Society and, most recently, proudly displayed at the Society’s Marine Museum. In September 2019, the Society shipped the mural to Detroit for a complete conservation treatment by Kenneth Katz. With this year-long project now complete, the mural will return to the island later in August to be installed in a new, climate-controlled addition to the Beaver Island Historical Society’s Mormon Print Shop Museum. 

The program on August 9th will begin with Kenneth Katz leading a tour of his studio in downtown Detroit, Conservation & Museum Services. Serving museums, historic houses, corporations and private individuals—including Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary and Cranbrook Art Museum—Katz and his team of specialists work on the conservation of paintings, frames, decorative objects, and architectural murals. Katz’s tour of his facility will include a brief look at a few of the other conservation projects currently underway.

Katz’s tour will be followed by a short slide lecture presented by the Center’s Director, Gregory Wittkopp. Wittkopp, who has been visiting the island and researching Sepeshy’s mural for almost thirty years, will not only provide a history of the mural, but answer the most-frequently-asked-question: How did the mural end up on an island in Lake Michigan?

Wittkopp, who will be in Katz’s studio in Detroit for the program, will then interview Katz as he tells us the story of the mural’s conservation treatment. One of the advantages of this virtual presentation will be the ability to zoom in on the details, seeing up close Sepeshy’s painting technique and vibrant mixing of colors. Assisting us in this process will be our cameraman, the Center’s Associate Curator, Kevin Adkisson.

From Detroit, the program will move to the Mormon Print Shop Museum where Executive Director Lori Taylor-Blitz will discuss the next chapter in the mural’s history. On August 14th, just five days after our program, the mural will be transported back to the island for its reinstallation in the expanded Mormon Print Shop Museum. Built in 1850 by James Strang and his Mormon followers (Strang was Brigham Young’s rival following the death of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith), the building is where the Strangite Mormons published religious works and two newspapers—that is until Strang was fatally shot in 1856 and his followers were forced to flee. Now one of two museums operated by the Beaver Island Historical Society, the Print Shop Museum tells the story of the island’s history and its inhabitants, including James Strang. 


3:00 – 3:05pm
Welcome and Introductions by Gregory Wittkopp

3:05 – 3:20pm
Tour of Museum & Conservation Services by Kenneth Katz

3:20 – 3:35pm
Hauling in the Net Illustrated Talk by Gregory Wittkopp

3:35 – 4:00pm
Mural Examination by Kenneth Katz with Gregory Wittkopp

4:00 – 4:10pm
The Beaver Island Context Discussed by Lori Taylor-Blitz

4:10 – 4:25pm
Live Q&A Moderated by Deborah Rice

4:25 – 4:30pm
Concluding Remarks by Gregory Wittkopp


Prior to the lecture date, registered participants will receive an email with instructions on how to join this virtual experience. As this program benefits the operations of both Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and the Beaver Island Historical Society, we ask that you do not share the login link with others. Registrations are non-refundable. The program will begin promptly at 3:00pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). 

For additional information in advance of the program, please email Center@cranbrook.edu or call the Center at 248.645.3307 and leave a message. We will return your call shortly.


Zoltan Sepeshy, Study for Hauling in the Net Mural, circa 1940 (detail). Collection of Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Zotlan Sepeshy, Hauling in the Net Mural (detail), 1940. Marine Museum, Beaver Island Historical Society, St. James, Michigan. Photography by Gregory Wittkopp. 

Portrait of Kenneth Katz. Courtesy Museum & Conservation Services, Detroit, Michigan.

Mormon Print Shop Museum, Beaver Island Historical Society, St. James, Michigan. Photography Courtesy Beaver Island Historical Society.

Registration for this event has closed.