How does one summarize a year like 2001? The promise of a new millennium came crashing down with the acts of terrorism in September. Greenwich Village was South of the traffic barriers at 14th Street and strangely peaceful in spite of the occasional smell of acrid smoke. Nonetheless, New York City continues to provide all sorts of nourishment. The new head of AOL Time Warner, Richard D. Parsons, was profiled in the New York times on December 9th and he had this to say: ďI have a different feeling in New York [City] than I do anywhere else. I feel like no harm is going to come to me, that this is my city. I almost feel like I know everybody and everybody knows me and weíre all pals. Now, obviously, that canít be true, but so much of how you relate to life is how you feel. And thatís my attitude in New York. I am a child of the city. The relationship is maternal.Ē While I didnít grow up in New York City, I share the sentiment.
You have all thought and read about ďnormalĒ times and how that is not now. At the same time, much continues as it has been. For me, this means a year of working at a job (or two or three) that I really enjoy most of the time; lots of art and architecture here in New York City; traveling for professional conferences and otherwise; and visiting family and friends. Some of that happens all at once: after almost 30 years of ARLIS conferences, lots of the other art librarians are my oldest friends (no giggling about old people); Janis Ekdahl is among them and I run into her doing the Chelsea galleries two or three times a year; going to ALA can be good for art touring but itís also a time to catch up with former work colleagues from Pitt, Cornell, etc. and with those I work with on projects like the Program for Cooperative Cataloging.
The two American Library Association conferences this year were in Washington (January) and San Francisco (June). We were in Washington just before the inauguration of George W. Bush and that feeling of election exhaustion seems so long ago. In addition to the meetings and other conferring in Washington, I did run into several other art librarians in the art nouveau show at the National Gallery. The Janet Cardiff walk at SFMOMA was probably the highlight of art viewing in San Francisco, and Iím delighted to say she now has a show at P.S. 1 in Queens. Incredible work, she plays on our senses and rearranges how we see, hear and feel.
The Art Libraries Society of North America met in Los Angeles in March/April. We met at the same hotel (now different name) in which we met in 1977 when I was new to the profession but about to start a term on the board as treasurer. ARLIS/NA then was only five years old. After the 2001 conference, Daniel and I stayed with Ed and Steve for a couple days and did some independent touring, e.g. Schindler House, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Pasadena, Santa Monica.
Chicago was the venue for the annual conferences of the Visual Resources Association and the College Art Association. Chicago is probably my second favorite city in the U.S. -- itís gritty like New York City and there is some really fine architecture.
In August, I attended an international art library conference in Boston and stayed with Bill Connor in Cambridge. After the conference, we two went to see the Gropius House in Lincoln, along with Daniel, Gary and Ted. The international style house is much reproduced but is far more comfortable than it seems in pictures.
Christie and I went to Italy again in October. Two years ago, we visited renaissance gardens, etc. North of Rome; this year, we did a loop North of Bologna -- Modena, Parma, Mantua, Ravenna. We rented a car for the week and stopped in a number of smaller places along the loop. We saw the Villa Badoer by Andrea Palladio from outside the gates and fell in love with a small castle in Fontanellato that has a room painted by Parmigianino. The Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna are absolutely breathtaking. A full travelogue is under ďmiscellanyĒ on my Geocities page if you want the details (URL below).
Soon after returning from Italy, I went with Daniel to the ARLIS/Mountain West regional conference in Las Vegas. It was my first time in Nevada. What a contrast with Italy, but fun. Where else can you watch sound-and-light water fountain shows set to Coplandís ďAppalachin springĒ from atop a half-size Eiffel Tower? Alright, fine, maybe that isnít one of your life goals. The conference included a fine session on the showgirl collection at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, so we had to go to the late show of ďJubilee.Ē
Iíve done a lot of reading this year. At the moment, Iím working my way through In search of lost time by Marcel Proust. This title is not the more familiar Remembrance of times past but more accurately renders the title from French and the spirit of the books which is more of a search than a memoir. One thing I can definitely say is that you cannot equally concentrate on every word (itís 4500 pages, give or take a few thousand), and you cannot read it easily while sitting beside a pool in Las Vegas.
Among the books Iíve read and enjoyed this past year are Girl with a pearl earring by Tracy Chevalier, Nathanielís nutmeg by Giles Milton (about the spice trade in the Molluccas), Farewell to the sea by Reinaldo Arenas, Water from a bucket by Charles Henri Ford, Morgan, American financier by Jean Strouse, M: the man who became Caravaggio by Peter Robb, and Philip V of Spain by Henry Kamen. The next-book-to-be-read stack grows but Iím afraid of stopping on Proust -- would I be able to start again? On the stack are My name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (I read his Black book and really enjoyed it), The bonesetterís daughter by Amy Tan (for bookclub), Brunelleschiís dome by Ross King, and lots of others.
The New York times had a picture of a whirlygig in Afghanistan which had seats made of spent gun casings. My friend Rachel read that Balzac and Hugo are now selling well in Kabul bookshops. May your new year be peaceful and healthy, full of hope and interaction with friends.
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