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Dear friends and family--

Christmas came and went and, still, any notion of putting together my annual letter hadn't happened until today, Boxing Day. As I drove home from my sister Carol and Barb's farm in Branchport, I decided I just had to start. But it's so easy to procrastinate. Carol and Barb did say that they had seen more "peace" on this year's cards than any other year they remembered. I will take solace in that. Today is Wednesday and I missed my normal time of silent peace vigil on the central corner in the village. I stand there for myself as well as for the world.

For me, 2018 was rather like other recent years: retired but doing indexing for the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, working part-time at the local Scholes Library of Ceramics, continuing to be active in various art and library associations, serving on the village planning board and as treasurer of the church and the local historical society. Plus reading plenty of books though nowhere near as many as some do. The New York times for Monday-Friday is available by subscription at the Alfred University bookstore, and it counts as home delivery so it includes digital access. My regular conferences were in Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, and New Orleans, plus regional conferences in Corning and Syracuse. I also got to NYC a few more times and off to Boston in August and to the mid-Hudson in October. I do really enjoy being in cities. Alfred is small but I can get most of my daily business done without having to drive.

Christie and I had been dreaming about going to Turin in northern Italy for several years. We flew to Milan in mid March, stayed there a few days, then went on to Turin and Genoa, and back to Milan for a couple days before our return flight. The cities are only a couple hours by train from each other but are quite different in character and rhythm. Plenty of art and architecture, and food and coffee. There is a picture album on Flickr (link below) and some posts on Blogger (link below). We saw a really strong show on Italian modernism -- both the art and the installation -- at the Prada Foundation in Milan. New York times critic Jason Farago called it the year's most important in his review of the year in art. Whether or not, it was really fine. Its focus was on 1918-1943 and I was also struck by modern buildings from the same period. I've been thinking a lot about the relationship between art and the prevailing politics and society. Here, it's Italian fascism. So the book I'm currently reading is The man in the glass house, a biography of Philip Johnson by Mark Lamster. Johnson was a Nazi sympathizer (at least). Some of those modern buildings I liked were fascist association buildings or government offices from the Mussolini years. Can the connection between the art and the government be incidental?

Usually when I get back from a significant art/architecture trip, I feel like I've enjoyed the things I've seen and know that there is more I could do but that can wait for the next trip. When I got back from the March-into-April trip, I felt like there was lots more I wanted to do in Genoa to say nothing of Milan and Turin. Daniel and Gary, with Janis and Sherri, were planning a trip to Turin and Genoa in September so I just decided I'd go back and spend some time with them. It turned out that we only overlapped in Genoa for an evening and two days but it was great to spend some time in Europe with them. Daniel and I had gone on our First Annual Trip to Europe in 1984 and then Daniel met Gary and I met Bob and our First Annual Trip was also our Only Annual Trip except for an autumn trip to Switzerland in 2000.

My college education in art history was based in Janson's History of art. The works illustrated there were memorized like certain songs or car models. You just know them. On the first Italian trip, I was able to check the box on the Boccioni sculpture, some other futurist works, and the Last Supper by Leonardo in Milan. On the second trip, I saw the Certosa di Pavia and a Puget saint figure in Genoa. And then I was surprised when I got home and found that the latter two actually were not in Janson but they were very familiar. And, what's more, way more wonderful than expected.

This year, ARLIS/NA is meeting in Salt Lake City. Utah is a state I can barely count other than one overnight at an airport hotel when I missed a connecting flight. There is a tour of the Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson in connection with the conference and I am really looking forward to that.

How did it ever get to 2019? The 21st century is almost 20% gone. May this year bring you good things and enjoyment, without rushing by in chaos.

Sherman Clarke
33 South Main Street
Alfred, NY 14802
http://shermaniablog.blogspot.com/ (tag "Italy 2018")
https://www.flickr.com/photos/56294332@N00/ (albums: Italy 2018 and 2018a)

... go to Sherman's miscellany page