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Life in Alfred is certainly different from life in New York City but it has been a satisfying year. The move didn't happen until the end of June instead of April. The spring was full of good NYC stuff and the transition from full-time office worker to freelance and itinerant art cataloger has gone pretty well.

As I've said to many people, I retired from the full-time employment at New York University but not from the profession. January, as usual, brought a trip to the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, this time in Denver. I spent a few days with Elaine Paul in Boulder before the conference. We had a glorious time together and I walked around the city to see the houses we'd lived in in the late 1950s. The junior high school I went to -- Baseline Junior High -- is now a special high school. The gymnasium is barrel-vaulted which I didn't remember, and led me to wonder if my love of Palladio's geometic shapes has some of its origin there. I also found Patty Limerick's Something in the soil at one of the bookshops and really enjoyed reading it, especially with the associations with the Amon Carter Museum Library where she came to do research and with her having given the keynote speech at ARLIS/NA a couple years ago. When I went to Elaine's office, I noticed that "Scillia" was on one of the faculty boxes. It was for Chuck Scillia who I went to grad school with; I didn't see him but it was quite a load of old time memories. I also watched the videos they have of an artist talk by and interview with Nina Katchadourian, a favorite artist. The conference time in Denver was pretty wonderful too, with the meetings and gatherings with friends. I stayed with my regular roommates, Daniel Starr and Scott Wicks, and we had our normal joyous times together. On the last cold snowy night, a guy stopped Daniel and me as we went for dinner and wouldn't let go. I did finally escape his grasp but Daniel wondered if I was a scam magnet.

February was the College Art Association conference in Los Angeles. I stayed with Steve Ong, partner of the late Ed Armstrong who worked with me at NYU. Steve and I had lots of good talks and shared experiences. I also got to see Sharon Chickanzeff who has been caring for her 94-year old mother. I really enjoy going to CAA sessions and listening to the papers, learning more about the known as well as the unknown. Sharon and I went to see the Gamble House by Greene & Greene. Sitting on the terrace at LACMA, I was approached by an older woman who improvised a poem to her favorite purse and then asked for $10 for supper. Me, the eternal sucker. Just before I left for L.A., I finally bought a digital camera and have been enjoying the instant satisfaction of seeng the pictures and posting them on Flickr.

In early March, the Loeb House, designed by Robert Venturi, was moved by barge from the Jersey Shore out to Long Island. I joined a bunch of other architectural buffs to watch the house go under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was pretty exciting as the barge and house appeared off toward Governor's Island.

The annual conference of the Visual Resources Association was in Toronto in March. I love Toronto. I roomed with Bill Connor and our hotel room looked out on the new city hall, its two towers like circling hands. Visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario was great, and it meant seeing the new wing designed by Frank Gehry which has great staircases. I also stopped into Art Metropole, one of the great book dealers for contemporary art.

The Art Libraries Society of North America conference was in Indianapolis in April. I figured it might make sense to go up to Alfred for a while and then drive via Cleveland. It ended up being more expensive than flying from NYC but I did have a good visit with Sara Jane Pearman in Cleveland. We went down to Akron to see the new building of the museum by Coop Himmelb(l)au, an Austrian firm that I've been watching for years and the Akron Art Museum building was the first completed one in the U.S. They are also building an arts high school in L.A. that I went to see when I was there in February. Great stuff. Sara Jane and I also visited a new development called Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, not far from her home in South Euclid. It's rather Disneyland but one of the stores is like a 1960s department store building. I was amused that they didn't do all Mansard roofs and Victoriana.

I had been hoping for years to go to Indianapolis, my only other time being there a short trip in the 1970s to visit my then in-laws who lived in the suburbs. The Indianapolis Museum of Art has a good collection and the ARLIS/NA reception there was splendid. Greta Bahnemann asked me to bring my camera so I could get a picture of Walter, her little stuffed panda. She takes him on her trips, as Gary Strawn takes Mr Smith. I love the idea of having such a traveliing companion but haven't acted on it ... yet. I'd always wanted to see Bloomington and visit the Kinsey Institute. There was a tour on the last conference day and I stayed overnight with Tony White who is now at Indiana University. The Kinsey was really exciting to see and Bloomington is a lovely city.

Sometime in the spring, I joined Netflix and have been enjoying seeing and re-seeing lots of films. I made the mistake at one point of having three Merchant & Ivory country house movies and that was a little rich.

During May and June, I had a splendid opportunity to work part-time in the reading room at the Morgan Library. They had gotten caught between someone leaving and job freezes and needed some extra help. I got to turn the pages of the Psalter-Hours of Yolande of Soissons and unroll a Byzantine scroll for another scholar, as well as deliver incunabula and other rare materials to scholars. It was really marvelous to be in the company of the materials.

In mid-May as I stood outside the Trader Joe's in Brooklyn waiting to meet Diana Mitrano, I was approached by a woman who noticed my "site-specific installation" t-shirt from the Whitney. She was working on a dance/performance to be done on one of the piers in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. For me, it's a cataloging joke going back to a conversation with the Library of Congress about the need for site-specific in the subject heading; for her, it was part of her art.

June brought another stint with the Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources and Image Management, this time held at Simmons College in Boston. I strongly support SEI but I'm not a comfortable teacher. Still, it was great to interact with the students and other faculty members, and to spend some time in Boston.

When I got home from SEI, it was mad packing for a move date of June 25th. I did get packed, even threw out some stuff and left quite a bit of recycling behind. The move cost rather more than expected but it was nice to have it over with. After the movers took the bulk of the stuff, I spent a few days putting together a last carload of the weirdly shaped and fragile. I also took in the Gay Pride Parade, accompanied by Heidi Hass.

I moved into the family house in Alfred. The house was built by my great grandfather and his father-in-law in the early 1870s. When I was a kid, it was my grandmother and great aunt's house. Later, my parents lived there and my brother and his family have lived in the house when they were working on their house on the hill just outside Alfred. It's six generations, and most of us have been savers so there is much stuff already in the house. Because of that, the bulk of my stuff was put into a storage unit, from which I've gradually been pulling things to bring to the house. It will probably be another year before I will see the seesaw tip toward having the majority of my stuff in the house. Adding a layer to the domestic archeology, I'm basically content with that even though it has meant some frustrating trips to the storage unit to find a particular book. I tried to be careful about packing and labelling so I could find things I wanted. Mostly, it's worked but where is The genius in the design: Bernini, Borromini and the rivalry that transformed Rome by Jake Morrisey?

Once I got to Alfred at the end of June, I spent an hour or so most days cataloging my upstate books into LibraryThing. It was really great to look at all of the books that have been in Alfred since my move up from Texas in 1995, to watch the changes in my relationship to other libraries as I cataloged rarer materials or more architecture or more gay materials.

I also cranked up my freelance cataloging activities. I have been doing image cataloging for ARTstor for more than a year and can continue to do that from Alfred. That has been fun and we are talking about a special project to build OCLC collection-level records for the completed ARTstor collections. The images I've worked on have been mostly non-western art so it's been an interesting adventure. I had been cataloging part-time at the Morgan too but that couldn't be moved to Alfred. They did, however, need to have records built for several dozen microfilms of incunabula and that is something that can be done long distance. It has been surprising how satisfying it is to look at the beautiful pages of early printing even on microfilm. Another freelance job has been doing backlog cataloging for the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. The books are really wonderful and I have enjoyed being in a different setting for a week. My boss there, Ann Butler, used to be at NYU and her collection is really stupendous. Bard is in the mid-Hudson area so it's been fun being in that area which is near New Paltz where I did my undergraduate degree. I've also been talking to MoMA about starting up some long-distance cataloging of smaller exhibition catalogs. That looks very promising for content too. I have discovered that I can use the OCLC Connexion web client on my Macintosh at home. The web client isn't as smooth as the desktop client but it's fine.

My family spent a week at Fillmore Glen State Park in early July. Fillmore Glen is in the eastern Finger Lakes of upstate New York and we had a glorious time. The gorge is beautiful so lots of walks and sitting around the fire. From Fillmore Glen, my brother drove me to Rochester to fly to Chicago for the summer conference of ALA. Chicago is another favorite city (and CAA meets there this February so I'll be going back before too long). In addition to the normal conference stuff, we got to see the new wing of the Art Institute by Renzo Piano.

My only trip back to the city was in early October when I went down for the NY Art Book Fair and artists book conference held in conjunction with the fair. The setting was P.S. 1 in Long Island City and it worked marvelously. The fair and conference were both thrilling. I also did some business with the HR folks at NYU and with TIAA-CREF, and caught up some with gallery and museum shows.

Oh, dear; I'm at the bottom of the third page. Sorry about that. There were also several good shorter trips to regional meetings at Saratoga Springs, Corning, and Williamstown. And there was the big trip to Madrid. Bill Connor and I flew to Madrid from Boston on the Monday after Thanksgiving. We spent most of our time in Madrid, visiting the museums and walking the streets. We also went on day trips to Segovia and the Escorial. The Bosches at the Prado and elsewhere were magnificent. Seeing Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" was especially poignant since the Morgan incunabula I'm working on were collected by a researcher into the iconography of the "Garden." There was a lovely little grisaille show at the Thyssen-Bornemisza, featuring their Van Eyck diptych. Segovia's Roman aqueduct was the first one I'd seen. Wow. And the romanesque churches. I plan on writing up a travelogue and will put it on the miscellany page of http://artcataloging.net. In the meantime, there are pictures on Flickr, both mine and Bill's.

The move to Alfred and retirement represent a recognition of the passage of time and a desire to make good use of whatever time is left me. A couple older friends died in the past couple months. Bob Kaufmann, a true gentleman and great bibliographer, reference librarian and gourmand, died at the beginning of November. He told wonderful stories of his time in Italy but also of what it was like to be gay before Stonewall. Margaret Gilliam was a volunteer at the Amon Carter when I worked there in the early 1990s. She worked on the clipping file and we really enjoyed talking about our travels. As she grew too frail to take her beloved bus trips, we'd correspond about my travels and what was happening outside the windows of her nursing home. She died on the day I returned from Spain and I'd love to tell her about the Spanish trip.

Here are some of the other highlights of the year:

Art: Greene & Greene show at the MFA Boston; several shows at the Broad and Hammer museums in L.A.; Lisa Ross show at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery and artist talk with Nan Goldin; "Building Rome in a Day" with Liz Glynn at the New Museum; "49 cities" show at Storefront, and its catalog.

Music: Tara Helen O'Connor, flutist, in several concerts; Miller Theater at Columbia and the Composer Portraits series; moving stirred up my recordings and it has been fun listening to ones that were "hidden"

Books: The girl with the gallery by Lindsay Pollock (about Edith Gregor Halpert and the Downtown Gallery); Goldenglove by Francine Prose; Eight months on Ghazzah Street by Hilary Mantle; Stories of art by James Elkins; Passing strange by Martha Sandweiss; and lots of others.

Please forgive my babbling on for four pages. You know how to skim, I assume, and I hope you'll recycle the paper when you're done. It has been a lot of fun being near my "little" brother who is an ardent environmentalist. He lives with his wife and just turned teenage son on a hill outside Alfred. Their home is at the end of a dirt road, up against state forest land. So if the stress of this little college town gets too much, I know I've got a quiet place to go for walks in the meadow or wood. If you want a bit of quiet country life, I now have room for company.

May the holiday season bring you happiness and peace, and may your new year be rich and wonderful.

Sherman Clarke
33 South Main Street
Alfred, NY 14802
sherman.clarke@gmail.com
http://artcataloging.net
http://shermaniablog.blogspot.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/56294332@N00/


... go to Sherman's miscellany page ...