Sherman's holiday letter
recapping the last year of the 20th century

Is it worth it to try to avoid some sort of millennial greetings? Probably not. May you all have the finest of holiday seasons and get a great start on the new year, decade, century, and millennium. Before you say that the new millennium, etc. doesnít start for a year, remember that watching the odometer turn over next year wonít be nearly as exciting. Actually, Iím delighted that I donít watch an odometer much. Life in New York City and around is plenty enough without a car or television. An occasional movie but mostly art, theater, dance, music, etc. to keep the soul moving from day to day.

And travel. In January, the Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association was held in Philadelphia. Daniel and I stayed at the same hotel (Doubletree) where ARLIS had been in spring 1998. Philadelphia has a very pleasant downtown with larger and smaller streets.

February brought the meetings of the Visual Resources Association and College Art Association in Los Angeles. I stayed with Ed and Steve who moved from New York to L.A. more than a year ago. They live in a deco bungalow in Silver Lake, a rather urban and hilly neighborhood. One could actually have walked a short distance to a bus going downtown. I had rented a car in order to get to the Getty and to Irvine, the latter to see Bethany who hasnít been to ALA or ARLIS for some time. It was great to see her and to see the UC Irvine campus which has buildings by several noted architects. Though I love being carless in NYC, it isnít hard to get used to driving in L.A.

In March, I went up to Alfred for my Dadís 80th birthday. We got him a comfy chair even though he can fall asleep on his feet -- itís a family trait. Later March was spent in Vancouver for the ARLIS conference. We stayed at one of the grand old railroad hotels downtown. The Anthropology Museum at UBC is wonderful and sited beautifully on the water, with mountains in the distance. The new public library by Moshe Safdie is a play on the Colisseum in Rome, a picturesque building with shops, etc. Commerce everywhere. On the last day in Vancouver, Daniel, his companion Gary (who arrived the day before), and I visited a charming historic neighborhood South of downtown. We were standing in front of a house trying to determine its history when a man who had worked on it came by. He gave us some multimillion-dollar cost and said it had a carwash among other features. I have trouble keeping a studio apartment clear enough to get in and out; itís a good thing I donít have dozens of rooms.

I went on the Hamilton Heights house tour again this June. Hamilton Heights is in West Harlem. After touring the houses, I went a bit North to the Morris Jumel Mansion, a wonderful colonial house in a small park.

New York also coursed through the year fictionally as my bookclub read Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser and The alienist by Caleb Carr. Both use historic characters and events, and they have gotten rather confused in my mind. When I was looking at Gotham, the new history of NYC, I noticed a paragraph that mixed Theodore Roosevelt and the tram drivers strike in Brooklyn. The former appears in Alienist and the strike appears in Sister Carrie, or is it the other way around? Context as youíre reading can be enriching; I finished The alienist in Scotland and then started Thomas Mannís The magic mountain which is set in Switzerland. On the way to Italy in October, I was still reading Mann and the German across the aisle was reading Hemingway. Between Frankfurt and Rome, the guy across the aisle was reading a book on Clinton in French.

But first, June in New Orleans. ALA has the uncanny ability to meet in places at their hottest or coldest moment ... sometimes. Weíre about to go to San Antonio which should be nice in January. Actually, I love New Orleans and donít mind being there in the summer. You just have to remember it will be hot and humid. Scott, Daniel and I stayed at a nice guesthouse with a small courtyard, located in the French Quarter.

July actually found me on Long Island twice -- once after spending a day in the City with Doug, Jeanette, Ian, Cathy, and Ilana (brother, sister in law, nephew, sister, niece). Ian was not quite three then and it was fabulous to see him on the subway; he swung around the pole. We went to the National Museum of the American Indian and then on the Staten Island Ferry. Later in the month, I went way out on the North Fork for the annual barbecue of Dean and Price who rent a cottage in Southold. Dean and I went to see a Marsden Hartley show at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton. For years, Iíve wanted to go to the Parrish and we had a lovely drive over Shelter Island.

In the spring when I was feeling Europe-deprived, Northwest/KLM advertised a good August fare to Glasgow. I had to take advantage of it so I could see all the great Mackintosh architecture. I stayed in a University of Glasgow dorm which was satisfactory and not expensive. The Mackintosh buildings were splendid, my favorite was probably his familyís house which is reconstructed inside a brutalist facade attached to the university library. I also was thrilled to see a number of buildings by Alexander ďGreekĒ Thomson. His nickname comes from his Greek Revival architecture. My favorite Thomson was Holmwood House (a Schinkelesque villa) in the southern part of Glasgow. I also went to Edinburgh for the day and had lunch with Michael Gallagher who had lived in Fort Worth when I was there (and then in Berlin) and who is now the keeper of conservation at the National Gallery. Another day, I went to Anstruther where my nieceís husband grew up. His mother, sister, and brother in law kindly fed me and carted me about to the Fisheries Museum, Billow Ness where John Knox practiced preaching to the waves, etc. The bus from Glasgow to Anstruther was most of my countryside viewing and it was enjoyable, including a great bridge over the Forth and lots of interesting architecture in various sizes of towns. I also went by train down to Durham, England where I met Lucrezia and Rob. She had worked at Cornell when I was there and has now lived in England for more than a decade. Durham Cathedral is splendid, set high on a hill in a curve of a river. Rob and I climbed up the cathedral tower for a wonderful view.

Letitia Baldridge said recently in an op-ed piece in the Times that she didnít want references to personal web pages, along with other hints about e-etiquette. Nonetheless, if you want the longer version of the Scotland tale, you can go to miscellany section of my Geocities web page (URL at bottom of letter).

At the end of August, I went on a quick trip to Chicago for some training. We stayed out near the airport but fortunately the suites hotel (yikes! not my idea of gracious living) was close to the train. I really enjoy Chicago. Though I canít imagine leaving New York City, I can imagine living in Chicago or Philadelphia. Being there also gave me a chance to have dinner with Anne Champagne and her friend at a old-fashioned Italian restaurant with tons of photos on the walls. I also discovered the Peace Museum which had an interesting show on women activists.

The Sargent shows in Boston had been tempting me so I went up there in September. Bill and I did the shows at the Fogg, Gardner, and MFA -- in the right order. Fogg was mostly drawings, Gardner mostly late paintings. When we got to the crowded MFA, weíd had a chance to see some works close up and the crowds were much easier to tolerate. Sargent is such a fine painter. There have also been two Sargent shows in New York this fall and Iím not tired of him yet. Daniel and I were at the Frick on Saturday for the small ďVelazquez in New York collectionsĒ show and thereís some more great painting.

Though Christie Stephenson and I had known each other vaguely in ARLIS and had even been on a panel together in 1981, it wasnít until she moved to New York City in 1997 that we became good friends. During her time at NYU, she had talked about a trip to Rome. As she talked about it, we dreamed of going to see some of the Renaissance gardens North of Rome too. Well, we realized those dreams in October and had a lovely time touring Bagnaia, Bomarzo, Caprarola, Orvieto, etc. The gardens were indeed splendid and we kept spontaneously discovering Etruscan painted tombs, mushroom hunters near Tarquinia, Roman theaters, Santa Maria della Consolazione in Todi, and the picturesque hilltowns of Civita di Bagnoreggio and Narni, as well as eating and drinking well. I only had one day in Rome but we crammed as much as we could into 36 hours, including supper with Chris Huemer. Again, you can read the longer travelog on my Geocities page. My trusty Pentax camera, purchased in 1967 for my first European trip, continues to take good pictures. Christie and I had a great time at Thanksgiving trading photos.

Daniel and I went to Atlanta in early November for the regional meeting sponsored by the local ARLIS chapter. The Carlos Museum at Emory, designed by Michael Graves, was one of the highlights of this trip. Emory is located in a residential neighborhood. As you fly over Atlanta, the sprawl is incredible but youíve read that in the papers.

So thatís the tale of my adventures during 1999. I did go to work during the year. It has been a difficult late summer and fall as we have implemented a new version of the library software. Things have been interesting at NYU this year as well because we have a new dean -- Carol Mandel, who was the architecture cataloger at Columbia when I was first out of library school. I always thought I might end up in that job someday but life has taken different directions and now Carol and I work together here at NYU. I hope you too have had some interesting adventures this year, read some good books, seen some fine art, etc. etc., and may 2000 bring a bunch more. Daniel and I will celebrate our 20th year of rooming together at ARLIS ... in Pittsburgh where I havenít been for many years after living there from 1973-1979. New York City Opera will do ďThe mother of us allĒ by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein in March (the Glimmerglass production) which Iíve wanted to see for years.

Peace, happiness, and health ...

Sherman Clarke
14 Washington Place #6J
New York, NY 10003 (aka Sherman's miscellany)