He wrapped the landmarks in cloth. Years later, his art turned up in a dumpster.

The gauze-wrapped building towered over the East Village like a bandaged wound. It was May 1979 and the artist, Francis Hines, had covered a five-story abandoned dwelling with 3,500 yards of white cloth, loosely sealing the interior of littered drug needles and crumbling walls.

At the time, a friend of Hines said, the smooth, undulating installation brought “life, beauty and possibility” to the East Village, then an emblem of civic neglect.

Mr. Hines garnered a modicum of critical acclaim for wrapping this and other New York City structures, including the Washington Arch, in fabric before disappearing from the art world. He died in 2016 at the age of 96.

His work was rediscovered a year later by Jared Whipple, a Connecticut man who found hundreds of Mr. Hines paintings in a dumpster and has since made it his mission to get Mr. Hines the attention he believes the artist deserves.

Over the past five years, Whipple, 40, has pored over Hines’ diaries, corresponded with the artist’s friends and family and unearthed archival material. His work as a self-taught scholar of Hines will reach a milestone this week when some of the paintings found in the dumpster are put on display for sale.

The solo show opens Thursday at Hollis Taggart Gallery in Southport, Connecticut, and will be accompanied by a smaller showing in New York City.

Hines’s escape from obscurity began in September 2017, when Whipple was invited to a dilapidated barn by a friend who had been hired to clean it and knew that Whipple liked to salvage scrap material.

In a dumpster outside, he found neat stacks of hundreds of canvases wrapped in heavy plastic and guessed it was the work of a hobbyist.

“When we started to open them up, that’s when we realized there might be something else,” Whipple said.

Mr. Whipple, a mechanic who also maintains church buildings, said he was drawn to the brightly colored depictions of wrecked cars and car parts. He decided to take the collection to his warehouse, where he spent more than a decade building an indoor skateboard park.

Mr. Whipple learned of the artist’s identity after finding one of the paintings signed with his full name, Francis Mattson Hines. An online search led Mr. Whipple to a book that Mr. Hines’ wife, Sondra Hines, self-published about her husband’s most celebrated work: the installation of the Washington Arch. In 1980, he used 8,000 yards of white polyester to wrap the arch as part of a New York University fundraising campaign to restore the monument.

In a video provided by Mr. Whipple, a former New York Times reporter and art critic, Grace Glueck, praised the installation.

“Well, I think it’s very beautiful, and as I told you before, anything that covers the Washington Square arch, which I always thought was spectacularly ugly, I find attractive,” Ms. Glueck said.

Mr. Hines, who was working as a commercial illustrator, continued to sculpt, paint and draw after the momentous installation, but failed to attract the attention of gallery owners.

For decades, he would ship his finished work to a barn in Watertown, Connecticut, that he rented for storage and had used as his main studio in the 1970s, Whipple said.

Over the last decade or so, the barn owners repeatedly asked Mr. Hines to move the art because they wanted to sell the property.

He never did. Instead, he let the protected art accumulate under the dirt, grime, and animal feces, leaving the project for another day, or someone else. After Mr. Hines’s death, his family took the things that meant the most to them, leaving behind the treasure that Mr. Whipple found.

Mr. Whipple has an insatiable appetite for information about the artist and has reached out to his friends and associates, who have shared photos, videos and letters. Whipple spent two years looking for a photographer, Ken Hellberg, who allowed him to search his basement for 35-millimeter slides of Hines’ work.

The Rev. Alan Johnson, 78, who had known Hines for decades and considered him one of his closest friends, said in a telephone interview that he was grateful for Whipple’s discovery and persistence.

Mr. Johnson was an official with the United Church Board of National Ministries, which sponsored the East Village project in 1979, and was interviewed about it by The Times in 1979:

“Francis Hines has chosen a part of the city that is in trouble and has given it some life, beauty and possibility,” said Mr. Johnson.

He and Mr. Hines would share their highs and lows over single malt scotch at the White Horse Tavern and take trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which Mr. Johnson said was one of the few places Mr. Hines would visit up north. from 14th street. in manhattan The artist always insisted that they visit only the African art wing.

“He would come down, look at the artifacts, these beautiful bowls and pictures and say ‘people with their hands did this and they made something that would be functional and useful,’” Mr. Johnson said.

Johnson said Sondra Hines, who died in 2013, would have appreciated her husband’s work gaining new recognition. In a catalog of her work, Mr. Hines wrote a dedication to Sondra: “Without her talent and hard work, much of what I do would never see the light of day.”

Mr. Johnson said that Mr. Whipple was an ideal guardian of his friend’s art because he approaches projects with a hands-on style in keeping with Mr. Hines’ philosophy that “art is problem solving.”

Jonathan Hines, the son of Mr. Hines, said in a statement provided by Mr. Whipple that it was “fate” for a figure outside the art world to discover his father’s art and that it would not have happened if he had decided to keep the art. . instead of throwing it away.

“The bottom line is that my father gets the recognition he deserves,” Mr. Hines said.

The newfound attention to Mr. Hines’ art has drawn comparisons to the works of Christo, the Bulgarian-born artist, who with his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, used fabric to cover and create structures, including the Arc de Triomphe. Christo, who used only his first name, died in 2020.

The Connecticut gallery exhibiting Mr. Hines’ work beginning this week specializes in drawing attention to lost and forgotten art. Gallery owner Hollis Taggart was introduced to the Hines collection by art historian Peter Hastings Falk.

Taggart said he was struck by how Hines used pastels on the board and then wrapped the paintings in cloth, something he hadn’t seen before.

“In today’s contemporary market, there’s a lot of interest in alternative media, you see a lot of work done with fabric, ceramics, installations, tapestries, things like that,” Taggart said. “What I was doing with fabric in the paintings fits in with what a lot of artists are doing today using alternative media.”

Mr. Taggart said that about 30 of Mr. Hines’ pieces, including paintings, drawings and a sculpture, will go on display next week. He said prices would start at $5,000 to $8,000 for works on paper, $20,000 to $35,000 for wrapped paintings and $55,000 for sculpture.

Proceeds from the sales will go to Mr. Whipple, who said he plans to use most of the money to upgrade his warehouse in Waterbury, Conn., where he exhibits the work of Mr. Hines and local artists.

The exhibition may seem like the culmination of Francis Hines’ project, but Mr. Whipple said it is just one more step in his quest to gain recognition for the artist.

He is also working on a documentary about Mr. Hines and hopes to see the artist’s work exhibited at a major New York City museum.

Whipple and Johnson admitted that Hines had been a man of the moment and did not share concerns about his legacy.

In an interview with The Times in 1979, Hines made it clear that he did not appreciate his work, after someone set fire to the East Village facility, eating away a strip of the gauze.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Hines said. “It’s almost part of the process. Your work is subject to all kinds of things, including the weather and vandalism.”

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