31 July 2007

David Stillman Clarke

Here is a link to the obituary for my dad as released by Alfred University: http://www.alfred.edu/pressreleases/viewrelease.cfm?ID=4092 His death continues to reverberate. I was talking to Christie last night. Her mother died in mid-June. Our sorting processes for our folks are not the same. She had to clear out her mother's residence with her brother and his wife. My dad's stuff is mixed in at 33 South Main in Alfred, the family homestead built by my great-grandfather and his father in the 1870s. It's still got stuff from earlier generations though mainly my folks and my dad's mother. And of course there's my stuff: mostly books and files. No great rush to clear out the house but no house should be just left for too long. Still, sorting the accumulation of a life or multiple lives is not straightforward, especially with the memories wrapped around the tangible stuff.

29 July 2007

great expedition, partly thwarted

On July 15th, Dorthy Spears wrote in The New York times about an installation by Karen Kilimnik at the Powel House in Philadelphia. It seemed intriguing and I was embarrassed not to recognize Kilimnik's name or artwork. So yesterday seemed like a good day for an expedition. I really enjoyed a trip to Eastern State for the Janet Cargill/George Bures installation a couple years ago so I figured I could go see the Kilimnik installation and the related show at the Institute of Contemporary Art and fit in a visit to Eastern State if it worked out that way. It didn't work out quite like I expected. I hadn't checked the times for NJ Transit, the Powel House, ICA, or Eastern State until Saturday morning. I just missed the 10:14 train to Philadelphia and then it was late getting to Trenton so I missed the connection. Finally got to Philadelphia and the Powel House at about 3 pm to find a sign on the door that said "closed for special event, sorry for the inconvenience, please come back." Sigh. Off to the ICA. The red room with derivative works was vaguely amusing, not as much as the "Museo de Reproducciones Fotográficas" at Triple Candie in June. The Ramp Project by Phoebe Washburn was however splendid, with a barrel vault. The walls were slabs and chunks of leftover wood, something like shingles, with the occasional aquarium many with golf balls. I wasn't finding much of Kilimnik's work familiar until I got to the gazebo with the ballerinas superimposed on a constructed landscape with the bird sounds over the ballet music. Also at the ICA was the project space with "Crimes of omission" -- one was a certificate on the stolen chewing gum, photographed at WalMart with the photos developed in the photo center there, by Michael Linares. http://www.icaphila.org/ Rather than spending my time at a restaurant getting something to eat, I took off for Eastern State and found it just closing. Oh, well. I walked back to the center of town and had something to eat. Stopped off at a favorite dive bar The Post to find they no longer had dancers and were about to be replaced by Tomboi. Yet again "oh well" and off to 30th Street Station for the ride home. I'm reading Name of the rose and enjoying it more.

On Thursday, we had a department managers meeting. Carol announced that the head of info technology was investigating an organizational climate assessment software package. I was horrified. Most everyone seemed to be nodding. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, you don't need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.

While cruising the internet for this year's SAA Visual Materials Section t-shirt, I came across the t-shirt designed by a library school student for the SAA student chapter at the University of Wisconsin. It pays hommage to the paper clip and the caption is "intelligent design." http://www.cafepress.com/cp/tf.aspx?tf=379199 I rather wish it was just the paper clip on the front; the back has several drawings that seem to me to explain the "joke" that doesn't need explaining.

21 July 2007

"Art of memory"

Just got back from "Art of memory" which was conceived and directed by Tanya Calamoneri, and presented as part of Ontological-Hysteric Incubator at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery. Sherry had sent an email saying that I had to go to this play that was reviewed in The New York times on Wednesday. The caption on the article included the words "when librarians go bad" and the picture here is "borrowed" from the Times review. cf http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/arts/dance/18memo.html The caption should probably have been "when librarians go mad" (in both senses of the word). It was genuinely spooky and wonderful, referring to librarian characteristics, Borges, the Brontes, Butoh. There's a poetical droning sequence about "red books" but I started to hear "read books." The stage setting included stacks of books gone awry, the balcony for the crazy lady/chorus, a screen which turned into a curtained window and exit for the three sisters. Books, librarians, memory. You probably had to be there (but tonight was the last night, according to the program). As I was being swept away by the theater and thought, I wondered if Dad would have enjoyed it. When he visited me in NYC with enough time to do something, he'd pick theater from the possibilities but his tastes were probably more traditional.

61 88

What a month this has been. The last entry was posted on my 61st birthday. It is now ten days since my father died at the age of 88. He had been failing rather quickly since returning to Alfred, New York, the return precipitated by the move of his second wife Ethel (widow of Harmon Dickinson, a seminary buddy) to a nursing home. He just wasn't ready to be a burden. He fell in early July and broke his femur just below the hip. With his congestive heart failure, he was a risky candidate for hip replacement but since his hip and leg weren't attached, a partial hip replacement was successfully performed on July 6th. Four of us kids, with assorted family members, encircled Dad at Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. His heart and soul were not fully in the recovery, or perhaps he realized he didn't have the strength to recover enough to make it worthwhile. Having been wished "Godspeed" by phone by his middle daughter, Dad sped away. We kids had a memorial service in the woods near my sister Carol's farmhouse, the farmhouse she shares with Barb Crumb, in Branchport, New York. Branchport is near Penn Yan at the northern end of Keuka Lake.

My dad and mom provided the ethical foundation for my life, along with Lois Smith and others I've met on the way. Still, I had lived away from my folks for decades. We loved each other but our daily lives were not much entangled. My brother Doug who lives in Alfred has been the rock of our family life as Dad's health failed, partly due to proximity, partly due to temperament and familiarity with Alfred and SDB ways.