Warm greetings to friends and family as 2000 winds down and 2001 comes closer. For those of you that have been following my life saga for a long time, youíll be amazed to find me at the same address for the sixth Christmas in a row. I think this establishes a record for my lifetime and Iím not even anxious to leave this apartment though if I win a lottery, Iíll go buy that rowhouse over by the Merchantís House Museum and fix it up and add some new architecture between the house and the museum. At the moment, Iíd ask Ungers & Kiss to design something based on a ceramic sculpture by Carlo Sammarco which I saw recently at a 57th Street gallery.
As I started writing this letter on December 3rd, a story in the New York times was especially heartwarming for me and also indicative of the joy of living in New York City. The article was about a joint course at Stillman College (a small historically black college) and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Students are quoted as saying ďThe problem in this country in terms of race or gender is that people donít mix with persons who are different from themĒ and ďItís neat to be in the minority, see what that feels like.Ē Living in NYC is a constant lesson in variety. Of course, we residents of New York City are not free of prejudice and bias but itís a lot harder to hate classes of people when daily life is a mix of colors, ethnicities, languages, affectional preferences, incomes, etc. I find the mix of population as well as cultural activities very nourishing.
This year has been like many others, filled with work, art and architecture, travel, friends, and family. Work has been good for me this year as I enjoyed a mix of cataloging and related activities at my various jobs. Also, this fall I have prepared my tenure package for review in the spring. It is a time to review where you are, where youíve been, and where youíre going. Even though Iíve been at the art cataloging game for almost thirty years, it still intrigues me.
Art and architecture have been thrilling this year, pretty much as always. The co-editing of the Queer Caucus for Art newsletter has been especially rewarding. My co-editor and I are very good at working together, inspiring each other, with complementary talents. Tee even asked me to co-chair a panel for the College Art Association conference in 2002 and it was accepted by the program committee. Wow!
Among the special art viewings were Charles Alexander McGill playing golf on the sidewalks of Harlem (a performance piece on racial profiling), ďArt and the empire cityĒ (mid-19th century NYC) at the Met, Samuel Mockbee show at Protetch (Iíve long admired the work heís done on affordable housing in the South), the dreamy and raw space of White Box gallery on West 26th Street, Sol Lewitt and Carl Andre at the Paula Cooper Gallery annex, the Chase Manhattan collection at Queens (with a sidetrip into the huge model of NYC left over from the 1964 Worldís Fair), and Ernesto Pujol at El Museo del Barrio.
While New York City does keep one well nourished in the line of art and architecture viewing, I just had to visit Europe a couple times. In May, I went to Berlin and had a wonderful time seeing the Potsdamer Platz developments, the fine paintings in Berlin and Dresden, and the view from the new Reichstag dome. I also went to Potsdam with Margaret Webster to see the renovated Einstein Tower by Erich Mendelsohn; Margaret lives in Ithaca but was in Berlin for most of the year as her husband was a Humboldt fellow. Just before Thanksgiving, Daniel and I went to Switzerland. We stayed in Zurich and got our moneyís worth out of a train pass -- visiting many cities in the German-speaking portion of Switzerland. High points in Switzerland were the Beyeler Foundation in Basel (in a new building by Renzo Piano), the Kunstmuseum in Chur, the abbey church in Saint Gall, and the cathedral in Solothurn, as well as the train ride over an alpine pass from Lucerne to Interlaken. It was foggy that day but the grays were marvelous. We also went to the opera (ďLíamore dei tre reĒ by Montemezzi) and to a piano recital by Elizabeth Leonskaya in Zurich, both in fine buildings. I read three books during the course of the week in Switzerland -- train rides and reading are a fine mix.
Domestic travel included San Antonio and Chicago for ALA conferences; both cities are familiar but loved. ARLIS was in Pittsburgh, and it was wonderful to be there again for the first significant time since we lived there in the 1970s. I stayed a couple extra days with a former neighbor and visited our former house on Princeton Boulevard. One evening, I had dinner with some friends who were grad students back then. It was surprising what was familiar (the office at the Pitt fine arts library, the bend in a road, the medical supply store with the curved facade, the alley behind our apartment house on Negley) and what wasnít (the house we lived in for four years).
The Visual Resources Association met in San Francisco in April. Itís never hard to visit San Francisco. After the conference, I went on a bus trip to Filoli, a wonderful Georgian Revival house near Palo Alto with fine gardens. Lest you think all is high faluting, the main reason I wanted to see Filoli is thatís where the Carringtons lived on ďDynasty.Ē
The most extraordinary family event was my fatherís wedding. He married Ethel Dickinson who is the widow of one of his ministerial colleagues. The Dickinsons lived near us several times as we were growing up and Ethel was one of my first visitors, coming to the hospital in Westerly, Rhode Island. Also, my baby book records a visit on 3 July 1946, when I was about two weeks old, from her and her husband and older son. Fifty-four years later, I was best man at Dadís and Ethelís wedding which was held at her house in Fort Mill, S.C. (a suburb of Charlotte). Dad and Ethel will split their time between Alfred and Fort Mill. The house was full of Clarkes and Dickinsons -- all eight of us kids with most of our families, including several great-grandchildren. It was great fun to get reacquainted with the Dickinsons and to find the parallels between the families -- several in special education, one of Ethelís grandchildren had gone to SUNY New Paltz (my undergrad alma mater), a couple drummers, on each side thereís a Jewish family.
I also got to Ann Arbor in August to see my friend Christie, with whom I also had Thanksgiving dinner in New York City. While in Michigan, we went to several towns West of Ann Arbor to see architecture and to Detroit to see some of the fine downtown skyscrapers.
Trips to New York State destinations and nearby of course included Alfred and my older sisterís in Queensbury (North of Albany). I also got to see the Andy Goldsworthy show at Storm King; a show of Julian Alden Weir and related artists at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut (with my former boss Milan who is now at MoMA); and a show about the Tile Club at Stony Brook.
I hope the end of 2000 finds you in good spirits and health. May the new year bring more of all good things.
With best wishes for the holiday season and new year,
14 Washington Place #6J
New York, NY 10003