25 December 2008

watching the gorillas open their presents

It has been a bright and not too chilly Christmas Day here in New York City. After going to see "Wendy and Lucy" at Film Forum, I walked over along the river for a while and then stopped at the grocery store for a few provisions. As I rode the elevator up to the 6th floor, the other passenger and I exchanged a few words about the beauty of the day. She'd been up early to go to the zoo to watch the gorillas open their presents. I love that picture.

And the New York Times had a great quotation of the day:
It doesn't crumb, and I don't like fragments of our Lord scattering all over the floor.
cf. Bread of Life, Baked in Rhode Island

separated at birth?

For years, I'd wanted to see Luchino Visconti's film "Ludwig," about Ludwig II of Bavaria. There are some of the hoped-for views of Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and Neuschwanstein but the placeness of the film is mostly internal. Inside Ludwig's madness and obsessions, that is. Elizabeth and I had had a discussion about Romy Schneider and she is indeed beautiful in this film, and we were thinking it a unique beauty. Imagine my surprise when reading the December 18th Times to see a picture of Stockard Channing, upcoming in "Pal Joey," looking rather like Schneider.
Stockard Channing and Matthew Risch, in "Pal Joey"
(from the N.Y. Times, 18.xii.2008)

20 December 2008

gilbert, george, just, and sackler

When I saw Roberto Ferrari last week at Boys Night Out, he mentioned that he'd done a blog entry at bklynbiblio on the Gilbert & George show at the Brooklyn Museum and wondered what I thought. Earlier today, I went to the blog and skimmed the entry and realized that what I really wanted to do was SEE the show so I logged off the computer and got me off to Brooklyn. What a great visit.

After checking my coat and bag, I started into the galleries and noticed the sign for "Romantic delusions" by Jesper Just. Wow, what wonderful videos. I liked all four of them, partly because of the ambiguous sexuality. Nothing about the signage in the gallery seemed to indicate homosexuality but each, in their way, had a queer element. "No man is an island" showed an older man dancing around a square as a younger man wept (thoughts of Jan Bas Ader). The crowd gathered and some of the children mimicked the older dancer. In "The lonely villa," two men -- again one older, one younger -- call each other and sing to each other, the older man being in a space that looked like an old-fashioned men's club, redolent of Victorian novels. In "Bliss and heaven," the young man walks out of a field and into a semi-trailer. A shaft of light appears in the dark space and another man in a blonde wig is singing in the shaft of a spotlight. He seems to have some kind of anxiety attack, leaves the stage, leaving the other man clapping. And then in "Romantic delusions," an older man wanders the streets in an athletic shirt with a padded bra underneath. Not sure what any of it meant but they were very intriguing videos.

After a quick viewing of "The black list" photos of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (they are good but it was getting late), I went up to the fifth floor for the Gilbert & George show. It starts in the polygonal gallery with several of the postcard sculptures and small pieces in vitrines, as well as crayon drawings around the outside walls. I'd forgotten what wonderful text accompanied the early G&G works, particularly the "Art for all" projects. And that reminded me of Judy Hoffberg who was the chief founder and first executive secretary of ARLIS/NA. For the 1977 conference, we had a button "Vita brevis, ARLIS longa." Judy taught me, early on, that art is primary and that has informed my life, personal and professional, all along. She is now very ill with acute myeloid leukemia and has just published the last issue of Umbrella, the whole run of which can be found at umbrellaeditions.com.

I was a tad reluctant to run to see the G&G show because recent paintings that I've seen haven't especially drawn me. There seems to be unnecessary vulgarity. I don't think I have a problem with piss and shit but their renditions of same just seemed silly. The installation in Brooklyn has a wide mix of the huge paintings. Although there are a couple of the piss/shit variety and a few with overt homoeroticism, most of the objects are actually quite serene (symmetric, men in suits) and not especially titillating. There's a parents and teachers advisory before you go into the show but the mix of works seems to me to enable an imaginative parent or teacher space for talking about the art without getting all tangled in "adult" subject matter.

My favorite postcard sculpture was probably "Coronation cross" with images of Queen Elizabeth II and the vaults of Westminster Abbey, looking very peacocky. My favorite slogan on one of the paintings was probably "Are you angry or are you boring?" Alas, no postcard of the slogan.

I haven't gone back to read Roberto's blog entry on the show but I guess I should.

Leaving the G&G show and shopping opportunity, I walked into the Sackler Center for Feminist Art. By now, I was down to about ten minutes before the galleries closed but what a quick feast: Nayland Blake (having just seen his show at Location One, curated by Maura Reilly, Sackler curator), a couple Suzanne Opton portraits of soldiers, a good Lorna Simpson, and a wonderful Adrian Piper installation in the far corner "What it's like, what it is #1." I checked the Brooklyn Museum website for information on the works and the link to the Feminist Art Base from the main page leads to a page with rotating images. The one when I popped in was a Katy Grannan of a naked man in a sauna. Love Grannan's work in general, her languid and serene images of people in mostly natural settings are enigmatic yet attractive.

So it wasn't like I did oodles of art venues today but I did visit Tracy Williams Ltd this morning as I ran errands and really enjoyed the Ernst Caramelle works on view. The works in the lower gallery were on paper exposed to the sun. Soft colors, strong shapes, something like a combination of Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, and Ezra Stoller photos of International Style interiors.

18 December 2008

Willoughby Sharp

One of the first avant-garde art magazines I knew about was Avalanche. It was oblong, usually (or always) just in black-and-white, and I loved getting the issues in the mail. It didn't hurt that the editor's name was Willoughby Sharp which seemed about as cool a name as one could have. That name and the image of Avalanche have stuck with me since those college days of the 1960s. Then, sometime earlier this year when I stopped in at Mitchell Algus Gallery, Mitchell introduced me to this dapper gentleman who was sitting in the chair next to Mitchell's desk. Mitchell knows I work in a library and thought I could help the gentleman get a photocopy of an early note about one of his art works. Yes, it was Willoughby Sharp. Though we didn't talk about it, his jaw looked damaged by the ravages of cancer and his voice was a tad slurred. The request for help was really not very significant: just a photocopy from a journal that we have at Bobst Library. It was amazing to think that I was talking to that great Willoughby Sharp.

Just a few days later, I was at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City and there was a work on the lower level by Sharp, and it had to do with his cancer treatments. My skin cancer didn't involve chemo or radiation treatment so I can only imagine the devastation it wreaks on your body, but I am thankful for artists who can help the rest of us understand through their art. I sent the photocopies to Sharp and he said I should stop by some time at his studio in Brooklyn.

This morning's email brought a message that Willoughby Sharp died yesterday. It hurts: seminal art influence, been with me mostly in the background forever, a brief encounter so recently. Still, there are evocative pictures and texts in Sharpville.

05 December 2008

Gómez Gómez Gómez took a trip to Rom(e)

You may have read the "Gómez, Gómez Gómez" post from a few days ago. If you're not a NACO contributor, you might not care but Mary Jane Cuneo passed on a 670 from the record for "Rome" (the empire, not the city):

670 __ |a Yavetz, Z. Meridot ʻavadim be-Romi, c1983: |b t.p. (Romi) p. 319 (Rome [in rom.])

02 December 2008

must course for next term

Here's part of the description of a course to be taught next term at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University:

Further consideration will be given to the emergence of new modalities of beholding (structured temporality, boredom, surveillance, reading as viewing, site/nonsite); in this regard, a broader contextual consideration of the rise of new mediums such as video, installation, and Land art will also be discussed.

Makes you want to just run out and register. And, no, I don't know why "Land" is capitalized. Perhaps it has to do with regional German art.

30 November 2008

opie and douglas, tooker and more

It was quite a weekend for art viewing. Friday found me going up to the Guggenheim for the Catherine Opie retrospective, and then walking up to the Schomburg Center on Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th. I've seen a decent amount of Opie's photographs in real life and in reproduction but the images from the "Freeway" series were the most surprising. I guess I've never seen one live because the size really surprised me. They're only about 2 x 7 inches, and they seem even more "vintage" in real life. In Aaron Krach's review in The advocate (Dec. 2, 2008), he describes them as melancholy and strong as her self-portraits. Melancholy, that wonderful emotion.

As I walked North, I stopped at the National Academy for the George Tooker and Ralph A. Blakelock shows. There is a beautiful Tooker of "The groping hand." Like a detail of a Flemish painting, with an abstract background. Blakelock's life trajectory is interesting as he doesn't do a classic art historical move to or away from abstraction, perhaps it was the last decades of his life when he had a series of breakdowns. The "Solos: Tulou: affordable housing for China" at the Cooper-Hewitt included a wonderful model of a circular building with an almost full-size construction of an apartment. Efficient but even small by NYC standards.

The reason for going up to the Schomburg was the Aaron Douglas show. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance crowd. There is a wonderful portrait of Zora Neale Hurston by Douglas and a fine photographic portrait of Douglas by Carl Van Vechten.

Saturday was galleryhopping in West Chelsea after seeing "Milk." In addition to finding Nina Katchadourian's "The Marfa Jingles" at Sara Meltzer Gallery, I stopped in at Mary Ryan Gallery to find a small gallery with linoblock prints by British modernists. The prints are wonderfully inspired by the same modernism that the Italian futurists found in contemporary culture. These British prints, particularly those by Sybil Andrews, display an angular vitality that is very compelling. There's also a big show at the Met of these British modernists. The Mary Ryan selection is a much better meal, size-wise.

At Claire Oliver Fine Art, I was strongly struck by the two paintings by Vitus Shell, rather like Kehinde Wiley but representing black women in domestic settings rather than Wiley's athletes.

Also at Sara Meltzer was a show by Francesca Gabbiani (love the name). The show is entitled "Be my mirror" and my favorites were the line drawings, fancy frames with blank centers, rather like elaborate bookplates.

Today (Sunday), I decided to go up to the Met to see the British modernists and the "Art and love in Renaissance Italy" show. I've already mentioned that the smaller diet of the British printmakers at Mary Ryan Gallery was more satisfying. The Italian show was quite disappointing. I decided the problem was that the works were selected for subject matter rather than aesthetics. Lots of them were just not very interesting. That isn't to say that I didn't find some interesting works. There were a couple birthing trays with naked boys romping on the verso. And the Alessandro Allori portrait has a wonderful "Michelangelo's 'The dream of modern life'" on the verso. It was a verso show for me, I guess. Draw any conclusions you wish.

Now, the Philippe de Montebello show was wonderful. It includes lots and lots of works which came into the Met's collections over his tenure as director (the last three decades). Lots of good friends, including the Thomas Anshutz lady in red dress, an incredibly beautiful 12th-century Spanish ivory scepter shaft segment. There were also many wonderful juxtapositions. One of my favorites was the Flemish boxwood Virgin and Child in a case with a pre-Columbian gold figurine. As I was admiring the contrast, a couple came up and decided the contrast was just too extreme. I thought of my sister Roberta, the seamstress, while looking at the quilt with cubes next to the Jasper Johns flag. And there was an incredible Agostino Carracci red-chalk drawing of a woman and the fabulous Parmigianino "Mercury." Just one more piece: the Fenton landscape photograph, just like a Rembrandt, though the label pointed to other precedents, photographic ones.

Gauguin's portfolio from Pont-Aven reminded me that I have to check in with Caroline Boyle-Turner to arrange a visit to her school in Pont-Aven now that I will have more time for traveling.

Sybil Andrews, Skaters, 1953, Linocut, 8 x 15 inches, edition of 60 (from Mary Ryan Gallery website)

29 November 2008

Thirty years after Harvey Milk

Here it is, thirty years after Harvey Milk was assassinated and the Californians approved Proposal 8 to their constitution which makes same-sex marriage illegal. I went to see the new movie "Milk," directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn. There's a significant section about Prop 6, the Briggs Amendment, which would have made it illegal to be a gay teacher or even to support gay teachers. The circle will, indeed, be unbroken, that is, the circle of prejudice. On the other hand, there was also a lot in the movie about hope and change. Maybe Obama's administration will turn things around.

After the movie, I went over to 26th Street and visited some galleries. At Sara Meltzer, I found Nina Katchadourian's CD entitled "The Marfa jingles." A stranger to Marfa and West Texas, Nina decided that she would invite people to suggest the theme for jingles. Nina would write a jingle and they played on the Marfa NPR station. I haven't listened yet but the combination of Marfa and Nina Katchadourian should be refreshing.

26 November 2008

it goes around, it's going around

Yesterday, I cataloged a book entitled University problems in the metropolis and had used the subject heading "Urban universities and colleges." Today's email reading brought this paragraph from SACOLIST from the LC Policy and Standards Division (PSD just doesn't trip off the tongue yet, like CPSO does).

Urban animals; Urban aquaculture; Urban entomology; etc.
Catalogers should note that, per the instructions provided in these scope notes, headings of the type Urban [ ... ] are not divided geographically to the level of individual cities. For works on a topic in relation to a specific city, the more general heading is assigned, i.e. the heading not qualified by the word Urban. For example, a work about hospitals in various cities in New York state may be assigned the heading Urban hospitals--New York (State), but a work about hospitals in New York City is assigned the heading Hospitals--New York (State)--New York [not Urban hospitals--New York (State)--New York].

So whether you do your cataloging in New York City or Alfred, you are: Catalogers--New York (State) ... [not Urban catalogers--New York (State) ...]

25 November 2008

once an albigensian ....

Tonight, I listened to Nathaniel Kahn, Carol Krinsky, and Robert McCarter talk about Albi and Louis Kahn at the Center for Architecture. Nathaniel Kahn spoke about the what and how: what you want to do and how to do it. One of his stories had to do with no restraints on life plans (encouraging as I face retirement and having more say in how the day is arranged). Carol spoke about the gothic as practiced in southern France where heresy flourished in the 12th-14th centuries. It reminded me, and I hadn't thought of this in a long time, how in college we were confronted with a demographic questionnaire that had a blank for religion. Being in a medieval history class, I entered "Albigensian" which turned into "Other" in my college profile.

Carol set the stage for the religious struggles as well as the architectural sources for Kahn. It being Kahn, light was of course important. She drew a parallel with the Albigensians who rejected the hierarchy of the Roman Church, seeking the light in the believer, and then mentioned that it was rather like the Quakers. As a Quaker wannabe, that also resonated. Always looking for the light.

(view of Albi, from "Sacred Destinations" site)

19 November 2008

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

small world

When I went to Rit Premnath's studio on Monday evening for the launch of Shifter 12, I was amused to find Josh Tonsfeldt's across the hall. I saw Tonsfeldt's show, a video installation, on Saturday. cf Saturday's galleryhopping

hammer lover other

Barbara Hammer showed her documentary film "Lover Other" at Tisch this evening and then talked with us for a while afterwards. The film is a dual biography of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore who made art together and resisted the Nazi occupation on Jersey from 1940-1945. The film was beautiful and compelling, with a fine vocal soundtrack by Pamela Z.

In the talk back, Hammer was asked about what she's working on. She is developing a new film with a younger filmmaker entitled "Generations" for the granting agency and "Bolex Dykes" more informally. She and her collaborator are using Bolex 16 mm cameras and shooting footage at Coney Island. As she said "the end of film, the end of Coney Island." She has a contract with the Feminist Press of CUNY to write her memoirs, which she hopes will be done by the spring of 2010 when MoMA plans a retrospective of her films. She spoke of the memoir and retrospective as a record of her life and career, in a touching and encouraging way, not sentimental.

With retirement in the brain and emotions, I have also been ruminating about such things. I hope to renovate my artcataloging.net site over the next year. At the same time, I have been asked by Rit Premnath if I want to participate in his curatorial project "On Certainty." His interest is based on his having read the paper on anonymous artist relationships on artcataloging.net. The paper is mostly the words of Liz O'Keefe but is a collaboration of the Cataloging Advisory Committee of ARLIS/NA with input from the Data Standards Committee of the Visual Resources Association.

We catalogers deal with certainty, and authority, as we go about our cataloging business. It is pleasing to think of it as part of a curatorial project.

16 November 2008


Since LibraryThing is social computing, one of the interesting things to watch is the connection between libraries. One feature that I'd been enjoying watching as I cataloged my books was the listing of books I shared with one other person. Strangely, in LibraryThing, it's called "You and None Other." Why isn't it called "You and One Other"? Anyway, it seemed to disappear ... until I rediscovered it under the "Memes" tab in "Statistics." I'd maybe heard the word but I probably couldn't use it effectively (and correctly) in a sentence. Going to Wikipedia, I found that it "consists of any idea or behavior that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation." Also, that the article was perhaps too long and should be broken into more articles. I'm not sure I'd agree that one-on-one shared books represent learned ideas or behaviors, or that we're imitating each other. It is also interesting to me that one could mispronounce it "me-me." And taking this seguing way too far, my favorite drag queen name at the moment is Mimi Imfurst. With any luck, January 20th will bring the full and complete end of the Mimi Imfurst Society.

15 November 2008

ars gratiae artis

After a slow start (it is Saturday, after all), I went over to Fort Greene Park for the centennial of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. The re-enactors had already re-enacted whatever, and the variety show wasn't starting for a while ... so off to the Lower East Side for a bit of gallery hopping. The Friday paper had had some interesting articles about the various gallery neighborhoods.

Reena Spaulings Fine Art: Nora Schulz. Didn't do too much for me but I wanted to see the show since Rit Pramneth (more anon) had mentioned it. The metal tubes at the window were rather pretty.

Miguel Abreu Gallery: Sam Lewitt. Lewitt's "Ars gratiae artis" was one of the works illustrated in the Times. It was the MGM banner minus the roaring lion, and reminded me of Kris Martin's "Laocoon" without the snakes.

The Joe Bradley show "Schmagoo" at Canada was pretty interesting. There was a group in the gallery that looked like art students and professor. I thought of Bill Connor and his plays on words.

Lisa Hamilton's paintings at Thrust Projects were very nice. The gallerist was on the phone in the office but I went and looked since she often has good stuff hanging in there too. And, yes, the paintings in the office were good. The phone conversation was about an opening where the gallerist wanted to interview whoever she was talking to and said it would be "f-ing Thrust TV."

On to White Box: my first visit to their new location on Broome Street. As usual, their show was political, entitled "Sedition" and included a Martha Rosler living room collage. More thoughts of Bill since we had gone off to Worcester for a Rosler show one time I visited him in Boston.

Josh Tonsfeldt's video installation at Simon Preston Gallery was entitled "Physician's horse vanishes" because Tonsfeldt had looked for the gallery's address on Google and came up with a Times article from 1906. The article was entitled "Physician's horse vanishes." The video showed feet kicking up a dust storm; as I stood there, the air started seeming dusty and there was the vague smell of dust. The power of suggestion.

The Ad Reinhardt show at Woodward Gallery may have been the biggest surprise of the afternoon. I was familiar with the black-on-black paintings and there was a beautiful print in an alcove at the back of the gallery But I didn't know the lovely little stick figure drawings of the mid 1940s. The show also included a large collection of correspondence -- postcards, clippings, letters -- from Reinhardt to Olga Scheirr, mid 1950s. His handwriting is beautiful and the stories on the correspondence were mesmerizing.

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery: video installation "watching the wolfman dance the foxtrot" by Sari Carel, included koi, monkey, small hoofed animals, giraffe, with gong and bird sounds. Quite lovely. Sharon Chickanzeff built a koi pond at her mother's house in L.A.; one could watch the video pretty restfully too ... though presumably the real thing is better?

Nicole Cherubini's vases at Smith-Stewart were ok and reminded me a bit of Betty Woodman's work though not as deconstructed.

On the way home along 2nd Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, there were three people looking into the Marble Cemetery. Two of them were taking pictures. The third was a denizen of the night (usually): long leather coat, pants with words all over them, no shirt, bleached hair, actually rather hot. As I got closer to him, I heard him speaking. He started walking toward me on 2nd Street and, as he got to me, said "I can't believe I'm talking to the squirrels. I'm going to the store to get them some peanuts."

Home for a bit and then I went to Mud Cafe on East 9th Street to meet Rit Premnath and Kajsa Dahlberg, two of the editors of Shifter, an online magazine. Ken Soehner had suggested to Rit that he and I might have some interesting discussions about art and classification, the theme of the current issue. The cover photo shows an opening of the New York Public Library book catalog. When I saw it online a couple days ago, I swooned. Such nostalgia. Rit and Kajsa -- non-librarians, met in the Whitney Independent Study Program -- have some of the same nostalgia. We talked about reading: what we're reading, what we were just reading, how we read. Kajsa is reading the Bible, among other things. The release party for Shifter 12 is on Monday night in South Brooklyn. I think I'll go.

When I was home between gallery hopping and going to see Rit and Kajsa, I was looking at mail which included a sale catalog of history imprints from the University of Virginia Press. One of the titles is Negotiated authorities: essays in colonial politics and constitutional history by Jack P. Greene. Good title; I'm a sucker for "authorities."

13 November 2008

Gómez, Gómez Gómez

At NYU, we love the authority record generator in OCLC, just like we loved the RLIN generator. It is such a fine start on building the authority record. Like all algorithms, it only works when the heading follows expectable patterns. The heading I wanted to generate an authority record for was "Gómez, Juan Vicente (Gómez Gómez)" and the generator helpfully gave me a 400:

Gómez, Gómez Gómez

Yep, it's right, according to the algorithm: turn the $q into forenames. Nope, I didn't hit save right away.

Maxine Fine at Gallery 128 and more

The opening for the Maxine Fine retrospective was last night at Gallery Onetwentyeight (128 Rivington St., Lower East Side). Flavia Rando is the curator and I've worked with her in the Queer Caucus for Art. The works are really good and well installed. There is a (silently) screaming head in a couple pieces and that loud quiet is compelling. Most of the folks at the opening were older lesbians (well, I didn't ask but ...) and Flavia described Fine's work as "pioneer." It was wonderfully retrospective: looking back.

As I walked to Gallery Onetwentyeight, I realized that I was in place for a visit to Bluestockingsbookstore since they might have had a copy of Marxism in a postcommunist society by Stefan Sullivan. Sullivan is the author of one of the essays in a book I was cataloging yesterday: Heartlands: sketches of rural America by Andreas Horvath. His take on growing up in a small midwestern college town and being different was very interesting and I thought I'd like to get his book (I've already perused the library's copy a little bit). Rather than drifting into Bluestockings for a bit of shelf reading, I happened on a book talk by E. Benjamin Skinner on his new book A crime so notorious: face-to-face with modern-day slavery. He talked about debt bondage, among other things, which was rather serendipitous with the book I just finished: Payback: debt and the shadow side of wealth by Margaret Atwood.

This has been quite a week for lectures: An-My Lê on Michael Heizer as part of the Dia Artists on Artists series (I love her work and she said some very interesting things but she's not a dynamic speaker); Peter Penoyer and Anne Walker on Warren & Wetmore (architects of Grand Central Terminal and other grand buildings) in the Victorian Society series at the Swedenborgian New Church; then last night it was Ben Skinner on his book; tonight is John Maciuika talking about "From Berlin 'Royal Castle' to 'Humboldt Forum': Radical Surgery Toward a Conservative Vision?" at Baruch College. After John's lecture, we are having a tour of the Vertical Campus building by Kohn Pedersen Fox. I'm quite a KPF fan so that should be fun.

I'm really glad that one can have expectations and that they sometimes get met and sometimes you are surprised. And sometimes it's the accidental that takes the cake. I was really looking forward to hearing An-My Lê but her speaking style is hesitating and I'd rather look at her art (I think that's fine). I went to see the Elizabeth Peyton show at the New Museum over the weekend and was much more thrilled by the Mary Heilman show on a different floor. Though I went to the Maxine Fine opening as a gesture of support for Flavia, the works were beautiful and really spoke to me. And then I plopped in on an interesting book talk at Bluestockings on the way home from the Maxine Fine opening.

09 November 2008

Halloween is over, time for Christmas

A couple of riffs on Christmas legend, read today:

"Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world." (from the famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter, published in The New York Sun in September 1897, and used in a Macy's advert today in The New York Times)

"There's nothing whatsoever to the other legend about Saint Nicholas -- that he comes down the chimney every December 25 with a sackful of stuff he's nicked from the pawnshop. It is however true that the nineteenth-century colloquial expression 'Old Nick' -- meaning the Devil -- is directly connected with Saint Nicholas. There are other clues. Note the red suit in the case of each; note the hairiness, and the association with burning and soot. We get the slang term 'to nick,' meaning 'to steal,' from ... [author's ellipsis] But I digress, pausing simply to add that Saint Nicholas, as well as being the patron saint of young children, those sticky-fingered elfin creatures with scant sense of other people's property rights, is also the patron saint of thieves. Saint Nicholas is always found in the vicinity of a big heap of loot, and when asked where he got it he'll tell an implausible yarn involving some non-human labourers hammering away in a place he euphemistically calls his 'workshop.' A likely story, say I." (Margaret Atwood, Payback: debt and the shadow side of wealth, p. 55-56)

So far, Atwood's Payback has been very interesting, made more so by the financial turmoil. I'm really enjoying her discussion of words that we use to talk about debt, especially those that play on religion. Example: redeeming your debts and Christ the Redeemer; forgive us our debts/trespasses; pawn (the chess piece and the pawnbroker). I really wish I could share the "Debt and sin" chapter that I'm in the midst of with my Dad who died last year. His great unfinished work was a book on the Ten Commandments. I think he might have enjoyed reading it but it might have made him mad. It's not necessarily pro- or anti-dogma. He always said, when we were growing up, not to be a "dog in the manger" from which I segued to not being dogmatic. Shared letters, shared meanings, contrasting meanings.

08 November 2008

the obsession with LibraryThing

It probably shouldn't have taken me so long to figure out this obsession with cataloging my books on LibraryThing. Duh. It's a chance to touch and think about the books that I brought to the city when I moved from Texas and those added since 1995. There is almost no book that doesn't have some pleasant vibration associated with it. There have been a couple "don't even remember" moments however. Now, Ottonian book illumination by Henry Mayr-Harting is sitting on my lap, ready to be looked at. So, excuse me; I've got reading to do.

01 November 2008

31 October 2008

silted-up ports and popping lenses

(Photo by Claudio Pedrazzi, selected for Google Earth)

Francesco Ceccarelli of the University of Bologna spoke last night on "New lands, villas, and towns of the d'Este: the idea of ducal territory in late sixteenth century Ferrara" as part of the SAH chapter lecture series. It was fascinating. Alfonso II, duke of Ferrara, was working on reclaiming the delta lands of the Po River between the city of Ferrara and the Adriatic Sea. What was especially intriguing to me was that the Venetians changed the course of the Po so that Alfonso's Porto di Goro and lovely villa of Mésola silted up and now are not so close to the sea. Not that people haven't always used every tool to best their enemies.

The hunting villa of Mésola is based on Serlio but, above ground, looks more like a medieval castle. Ceccarelli showed a comparison of the plans of Mésola and Chambord: marvelous similarities. Alfonso spent part of his youth at Chambord and generally liked doing things alla francese.

You may remember the silliness of my "loan" to the street fellow a couple weeks ago. A few days ago, I got on the F train at 14th Street. Just after I got on, a guy dropped his sunglasses just after getting on the train. One lens had popped out and he was peering at the floor. A couple people told him that the lens was just outside the door that had just closed. Miraculously, the doors opened momentarily. He picked up his lens and smiled at the folks and said something about miracles. The voice seemed familiar. Yes, it was my "friend" who did tech work for "The drowsy chaperone," still reaping the benefits of the street life where people "lend" you $20 and doors open when your lens falls out there.

Don't know why these stories of ports and lenses go together -- just you have to let the world move along. Christie and I were within relative inches of the town of Mésola as we drove between Mantova and Ravenna in fall 2001. I guess we'll have to go back to see Mésola (and Ferrara) but I'll have to learn how to be more frugal on these mean streets. I talked to Christie last night on the phone and we both decided you need to live now and not let the turkeys get you down.

20 October 2008

right by me

After the morning's silliness, I had a lovely Sunday afternoon. I went out to the Queens Museum of Art for the Cinemarosa films which were quite fine: "See me" by Steven Liang, "Right by me" by Thanyatorn Siwanukrow. Both were coming out stories: the first a first-person narrative from a Chinese American in California, the second in Thai about three young men. During the discussion after, someone described the stories in the latter as considerably easier than (his) real life. It was affecting and effective, nonetheless. I was amused too by the harmony of the titles with the shared word "me"; not the me-ness of it but the rhyme and the double entendre of the "right by me."

I got to the museum early enough to see the "Reason's clue" show in the galleries. If you enjoy works that mix cultures and times, "Reason's clue" is a show for you. Zhang Hongtu has done some objects that wonderfully mix traditional Chinese styles with contemporary pop culture: Coke bottles in blue-and-white porcelain; zodiac figures in Mao suits, done in Tang-style three-color glaze; McDonald's containers in Shang bronze costumes; a series of Van Gogh-ish paintings looking rather like traditional Chinese scroll painting. With my current gig of ARTstor cataloging being Chinese art, this is especially amusing. There are also wonderful Hung Hao maps looking like a combination of western Renaissance style and Chinese content. And Taiwanese Tu Wei-Cheng has created the Bu Num civilization whose excavated steles look suspiciously like Blackberries.

I just love visiting Flushing Meadows and the Queens Museum. Is it the liveliness of the park? Or maybe the chance to walk through the panorama of the city from the 1964-1965 World's Fair? Or the camaraderie of the folks at Cinemarosa? Or maybe the ride in the 7 train, looking at Queens as we zip along?

From the park to the yard. After Sunday in the park, I took off for Alfred early on Monday morning. Raked the leaves this afternoon and helped my brother bag them to take up to his mulch pile. The yard and garden at the family homestead are in need of some attention and I am rather thinking I could manage a bit of that ... next year.

19 October 2008

random acts of MADness

After an early lunch on Saturday with Charles and Don who were down from Syracuse for a Lincoln Center fix, I stopped at the new building of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), the much-criticized reworking of the "lollypop building" on Columbus Circle by Ezra Durrell Stone. One of the opening shows is "Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary." There were a number of interesting objects in the show. The most compelling perhaps was Michael Rakowitz's papier maché reconstructions of objects that disappeared or were damaged during the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2003. Most of the works in the show were not so overtly political. There were two lovely cupboards using recycled materials: one with panels of recycled wood by Piet Hein Eek and another with panels of recycled steel by someone (the artist list for the show hasn't yet yielded a match in my addled brain). Jean Shin did a wonderful Hiroshige wave out of old LPs. And Devorah Sperber did a great Mona Lisa out of spools of thread (this is for you, Jenni!). On the floor of works from the permanent collection, there's a nice textile work by Elaine Reichek called "Egyptian Curtain" with a quote from Matisse: "I used to buy pieces of tapestry ... a little museum of samples ... my working library" (ellipses in the caption).

My favorite confusing headline from the morning paper is "Keeping Lawmakers Happy through Gifts to Pet Charities." I was expected something about Leona Helmsley and her billionaire puppy. Instead, it was Congressman Murtha and grants to the symphony orchestra in Johnstown, PA. I'll accept that sort of congressional payout more than grants for military-industrial complexes or "bridges to nowhere."

That article was cheek-by-jowl with an article about the dudes that are storming Sarah Palin rallies. That was scary.

After reading some of the paper with my pancakes at Silver Spurs on Broadway, I walked over to see the Banksy Village Petstore and Charcoal Grill installation wherein fish sticks swim in a bowl, gorillas watch the Discovery Channel, a fur coat sits on a branch swinging its tail, chicken nuggets snack, sausages wiggle like sea lions, a bunny burnishes her nails in front of a mirror, and whatnot. On the way to Seventh Avenue, I ran into a guy who had a hard luck story, locked out of this apartment and if he didn't get uptown by 10 a.m., he'd lose his job with "The Drowsy Chaperone." Well, I fell for it, "lent" him a twenty, and he promised he'd leave a twenty with my doorman in an hour or so. There's the "random act of madness" but perhaps my faith in the street story will be restored. I've made more foolish investments in bum rushes. Not that he seemed to be memorizing my address.

05 October 2008

Raed Jarrar at AFSC

Raed Jarrar spoke to about twenty of us on Friday afternoon at the New York City offices of the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization that I have long supported). He is an Iraqi, based in the Washington AFSC office, and is an architect by training. He's lived in the US since 2003 and I was very interested in his use of "we" when talking about Americans. I liked that very much and, if we were running, I'd vote for him for legislator in a heartbeat. Actually I'd vote for him for president but he might have to temper his passion, not that he isn't temperate but we need legislators who can argue well and convincingly. He is strongly convinced that a total withdrawal from Iraq will allow them to return to a peaceful state. He had drawn up a chart showing the religious connections of the separatists and nationalists in the Iraqi parliament. The conflict is not primarily based on religious differences. Even Hussein's government was not segregated. Jarrar is of mixed Sunni/Shiite heritage and married to a Palestinian. One of his Sunni uncles traded houses with a Shiite uncle when the neighborhoods were being cleansed. Jarrar didn't express it but it sure seems to me that such temperance and diversity wouldn't necessarily last forever so let's get completely out of Iraq now. For a profile of Raed Jarrar and his work, see "Mr. Jarrar goes to Washington" in Mother Jones. Actually I got quite a few hits in Google on "raed jarrar" including his blog called "In the Middle."

The New York Times

One thing I haven't figured out about living in Alfred is how to get the daily New York Times. The Unimart gets the Sunday paper and is good about reserving a copy so you don't have to rush down at the crack of dawn to be sure they've come but not disappeared into the hands of willing co-conspirators. When the Alfred University students are around, the campus store (alas, a Barnes & Noble operation) has the daily paper on Monday to Friday. And then there's Saturday. Off to Wegman's in Hornell where you might find it? Yes, I know there's the online version but the joy of reading the paper version is finding the big and small articles, the serendipity. Yes, I know that the web can also provide serendipity. Different, more and less.

On the front page of today's paper, there's an article about Afghan President Karzai's brother allegedly being involved in the drug trade. The Karzai brothers deny it but the whole idea of governmental corruption in the face of so much chaos is very disheartening. I did sign a petition against the Rockefeller drug laws yesterday; it's not like I necessarily want heroin sold freely at the grocery store but decriminalization of certain drugs seems like a viable option (to put it mildly perhaps).

Further into the front section, there was an article about Dubai and how even it is feeling the effects of the financial crisis. But folks are paying up the $25,000 a night for those fancy hotel rooms. They're working on a development that will have the world's biggest mall. Yesterday, Elizabeth and I were looking at a picture of the palm-tree island/peninsula and thinking how we had NO desire to go there. Meanwhile, my university is working on a new campus in Abu Dhabi, part of our "Global University" development. The dean of the Libraries is distracted by development of the new library and its state of the (future) art connections while there's much to be done at home. True, the NYC campus will benefit as will the international programs from the magnificent electronic infrastructure ... but there's much that needs to be done on the home front. I don't mean to be isolationist but the distraction of NYU Abu Dhabi is not helping improve the collaboration and cooperation at home.

This morning's front section wasn't all depressing or frustrating. There was a wonderful article about South Korean bathhouses. "The first thing we Koreans think of when we're feeling stiff and sore is lying on a hot floor." Sounds pretty nice.

A little note on the front page made me realize that like the nationwide chains that are filling the streets of Manhattan, tomorrow's paper will be different. The Metro Section will be absorbed into a "New York" section in the front section. Gosh, just like the National Edition. I'll miss the Metro Section but I guess they're just trying to get me accustomed to the National Edition.

03 October 2008

registered to vote?

28 September 2008

love a banned book this week

This coming week is Banned Book Week. Here's some info:

* A compilation of banned books edited by John Mark Ockerbloom for the University of Pennsylvania Libraries; not this year since the dates don't jive but an interesting compilation and it has a link to Penn's Online Books page.

* ALA's Banned Book Week page

And, clearly, you yourself can google "banned books" and find oodles of information, including the completely authoritative "List of banned books" on Wikipedia.

Florida Highwaymen

The most recent SACOLIST report on LCSH additions had a note about the proposal for "Florida Highwaymen (Group of artists)." I don't think I'd heard about them so I checked it out. It refers to a group of African American artists, mostly men, who traveled about selling their paintings from the trunks of their cars. The paintings are somewhat evocative of Hudson River School paintings and/or the seaside views of someone like Martin Johnson Heade. Or perhaps a garish combination. The image above, from the floridahighwaymen.com site, makes a wonderful backdrop for my computer at work. The men used this approach to selling their work because they were not likely to get gallery shows and a black guy couldn't just go around with a stack of paintings. Many of them were trained artists but these trunk sales were a way they were able to get their paintings sold, a way available to them as black Americans. (They probably didn't make as much as Damien Hirst made in his Sotheby's auctions.)

But what about the subject heading proposal? It was refused as a subject heading with the caveat that they could be established as a corporate name. The old NAF/SAF debate. It seems to me that since a critic invented the name, and even though some of the surviving Highwaymen use the name, that it's more like a movement (subject heading) than a corporate body (name).

it's a new day

Sunday again, perhaps my favorite day. Usually I start with the Times and pancakes at Silver Spurs but today I'm joining Diana Mitrano for dim sum brunch in Chinatown and don't want to ruin my appetite.

This has been a pretty momentous week. I signed the retirement agreement with the provost earlier in the week. My last day in the office will be at the end of this calendar year and then the active movement toward the next phase of my life can begin. I'll be moving to the family house in Alfred but not full-time until later in the spring or early summer. I went to the Peter Lieberson retrospective concert last night at Miller Theatre at Columbia last night and thoughts of concert opportunities kept interrupting my brain waves. The old "is there life outside New York City?" syndrome. But then this morning, while chatting with my brother Doug on gmail, we mused on Alfred's events. This semester, Lenka Clayton is a visiting artist and Doug has been doing some interesting interacting with her project to document the Steinheim collection. The Steinheim is a quirky stone building that was built as a museum, the oldest in western New York (or some such claim to fame). Lenka is keeping an Alfred diary at alfreddiary.blogspot.com. The entry for the 26th of September entitled "the first lost artefact" is actually my brother's hand on MY front porch! Some of Lenka's documenting reminds me of Nina Katchadourian and Doug says that Lenka knows about Nina's work.

20 September 2008

Cindy Bernard at Tracy Williams

Last night, Dan Biddle asked me what good art I'd seen and I was embarrassed that I couldn't immediately think of anything. The first thing that came to mind was the Wiener Werkstätte jewelry show at the Neue Galerie. It was lovely but that was a couple weeks ago. Here it is the third Saturday of the new season and I haven't been to West Chelsea or elsewhere for galleryhopping. So .... as I was out running errands today, I stopped at White Columns and Tracy Williams in the West Village.

The Cindy Bernard show at Tracy Williams is entitled "Silent Key" which stands for a ham radio operator who has left the scene. In this case, it was her grandfather after his death. The show consisted on the lower level of postcards and other remembrances of his ham radio days. Grandpa had never talked about the connecting but Bernard grew up with the noise of Morse Code whenever she visited. Many of the places no longer use the name on the cards and that was part of Bernard's selection process: Bechuanaland, Nyasaland, British Guiana, Yugoslavia, Ceylon, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic. These evoked thoughts of NACO work on changed place names and also my dad's work with the Missionary Board when we were little kids. The Seventh Day Baptists had missionaries in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and British Guiana (now Guyana) so we knew those places well. Upstairs, there is a ledger with entries from Grandpa's communications that read like text messages, Facebook statuses, or overheard cellphone conversations, e.g., "he sed it was snowing," "Getz called up," "he faded out toward last," or "he is big gso man." What's a gso man? I don't know. Bernard has founded the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS) which has analogies, for me, with social computing (through the name and elsewise), sending messages through the vapors and hoping they get to the right destination (our faith is incredible and has been since we tried to get messages to people beyond the reach of our unamplified voices). The gallerist and I talked about this for a while and she said she gets a lot of messages with people venting about this or that, and it's sometimes not even someone she knows. Maybe that's a cellphone or IMing phenomenon because I don't see that. One does see the errant email message but usually it's followed by a virtual redfaced apology.

14 September 2008

George Orwell, blogger ... er, diarist

Have you discovered the George Orwell diaries which are being (re)entered daily by the Orwell Prize at http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com/? It's a wonderful project ... but how did they get the archives to start in July 1938?

little tetrazzini wings

My favorite paragraph (so far) from today's Times:

"Mr. [Daniel] Radcliffe still lives in the house he grew up in, with his parents and two dogs, Blinka and Nugget. (Nugget is not, oddly enough, named after the lead horse in 'Equus.' Rather the Radcliffes have a tradition of giving dogs names that can follow the word 'chicken'; a previous dog was named Tikka.)"

[from a profile of actor Daniel Radcliffe, about to open in "Equus" on Broadway]

13 September 2008

a full house

When your house is full of books, the last thing you need is 100 books and more checked out from the library. While I like the fact that they can be in perpetual renewal unless requested, it means you just let them pile up (well, *I* let them pile up). In order to retrieve some space, I decided that I could use LibraryThing with a tag of "checkedout" rather than the similar "unread" that is often suggested and used. Some of these books are not to be read but used. As I'm going through them, I'm finding some wonderful bits of moments from some time ago. The one in hand is Propos de littérature by Alain. The slip of paper in the book indicates that I was taken by a statement about memory but I have no idea where I saw the quote. The text in the book: "Il semble que le souvenir soir esthétique par lui-même, et qu'un objet soit beau principalement parce qu'il en rappelle un autre." Or as it says on the piece of paper: "It seems that memory is aesthetic in itself, and that an object is beautiful chiefly because it recalls another." I still like the quote, it still strikes a chord, now if I could just remember where I saw it.

11 September 2008

we might have to do this again!?!

In an article in The New York Times on August 26th, John Tierney describes Vernor Vinge's new book entitled Rainbows End and other writings. He describes a man who succumbs to Alzheimer's but comes out of it not knowing about Facebook, Second Life, Wikipedia and whatnot. He has to go back to high school to learn how to cope. In the world of 2025, he retreats to Geisel Library at UCSD where the "paper books are about to be shredded to make room for a highbrow version of a virtual-reality theme park." We've got intelligence amplification, not simply artificial intelligence. cf http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26tier.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=rainbows%20end&st=cse&oref=slogin (or search "rainbows end" at nytimes.com Yes, Rainbows End is given without an apostrophe; not the end of the rainbow, but rainbows are over. Or an allusion to Howards End?

07 September 2008

Jenny Holzer, library builder

In the "Inside art" column in Friday's New York Times, there's a notice about Jenny Holzer's project for the exterior of the Guggenheim. She will be illuminating the spirals with sayings that "will range from terrorism and the Iraq war to poems about loss, grief and love." The installation will become part of the Guggenheim's permanent collection and she will be adding sayings and poems throughout the fall. She calls it a "library."

06 September 2008

thinking about travel

As we walked on the beach yesterday, Dan Evans and I were talking about where in Europe we'd been and places we hadn't had nearly enough of. Sicily kept coming up in my stories, clearly I NEED to go there. I think Christie and I might actually make it next fall; first there's some business to take care of, on both our parts, but it might enable a longer trip. The sirens are telling both of us to find our roots, or rather to get back to the important stuff. For Christie, it's the earth: gardening, house work (working on a house, not just IN a house). I've got a bit of that in a desire for fresh tomatoes (thanks to Elizabeth Lilker, I've had some this year). A nice little kitchen garden is all I imagine I'd ever really be responsible for. And there's room for it outside the kitchen door of the family homestead. If all the stuff comes together, I'll probably retire from the current round of my life and get on with some "just cataloging" jobs that I can do from Alfred and the family homestead. My brother and I might get some kind of bookselling business going but it probably won't be the used bookstore that we'd been looking at. Another advantage, of course, about retiring and doing some odd-job cataloging is that a trip to Sicily could be longer. I've been dreaming about that place on the south coast of Sicily that's been calling me. More sirens.

Speaking of sirens, it's amusing how they warn folks about weather out here in Cherry Grove. A couple hours ago, the fire department guys on a boardwalk vehicle tooted the horn and announced that the last ferry to the mainland this evening would be the one at 5:50. And also: fasten everything down. We'll hope for wet and some wind, not destructive amounts of either.

ocean waves

The Cherry Grove Art Walk got cancelled because of hurricanes coming up the East Coast. Hanna is sort of working her way in the neighborhood. The ocean waves are vigorous, it was raining a little bit ago but has stopped ... for the moment. They say it will rain hard during the night. As Kent Boese said on his Facebook page, I'm really lovin' Hanna. Of course it's only from the edge that one can say that. The center of the hurricane is not something to muck about with.

As I took the train to Sayville, there was a complicated transaction happening within earshot. Someone had left their cellphone somewhere and the two people who were in the train didn't know each other but the one would be at the Jamaica train station at 11 pm that night and could return the phone. The other said she was being a Good Samaritan. I decided to label this message "random acts of kindness." That's also a theme for my sister who took, when rather bored I guess, some extra quarters and put them in Ithaca parking meters that were expired. I don't imagine most of those blessed by the quarters knew it. But that's the random part, I guess.

I was reading the Times on the train and there was an article about Charles Rangel and his not paying taxes on his house in the Caribbean which is not anywhere near a full-time residence. How is it that our legislators and other politicians so forget that they are subject to the rules too?

I went for a walk on the beach a while ago and started toward "home" when the rain started to fall. The inclement weather seems to be making folks happy and friendly, facing the great unknown and all that. I guess that's just more random acts of kindness, like the happy birthday balloon that I picked up from the beach and put in a garbage can.

27 August 2008

promise, tool, bargain

Chapter 11 of Shirky's Here comes everybody is entitled "Promise, tool, bargain." The premise is that "Every story in this book relies on a successful fusion of a plausable promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users" (p. 260). Boy, that really resonates. The problem with my office is that folks haven't bought into the bargain which does have some promise of helping the user and we've even got some decent tools that could evolve and become even more effective.

26 August 2008

"Harvie Krumpet"

Thanks to Emerson Morgan for posting this charming film on his Facebook page -- "Harvie Krumpet" by Adam Elliott, narrated by Geoffrey Rush.

series and accretions

There's been a big discussion on the PCCLIST about series authority records and it's morphing into BIBCO records and full/core records ... and now into Enhance. I keep thinking that what we really need is something more like accretion than enhance on master/other records. Someone puts a record into the common bibliographic universe, someone else adds another access point or two, someone else adds a contents note, now a book jacket or review. A combination of our traditional control with some of the jazzy new-generation stuff. Or perhaps an RLIN cluster with the accretions of the secondary cluster members more visible. I know we're getting there but big long reports on simplifying cataloging processes can be so dreary. Just go catalog. I think I will ... but, first, supper with Diana Mitrano.

24 August 2008

everything is dangerous?

With having read David Weinberger's Everything is miscellaneous and now reading Clay Shirky's Here comes everybody, I was ready to read a lot into the news report on the 40th annual conference on "planetary emergencies" now finishing up in Erice, Sicily. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/world/europe/24sicily.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=erice%20global%20risks&st=cse&oref=slogin or search "erice global risks" at nytimes.com

It did resonate too because I'd been talking with Christie yesterday about our long-planned and -delayed trip to Sicily, with Erice on the map as I surveyed where we might camp out for a couple weeks as we roamed around Selinunte, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, etc etc.

Back to the conference, this year's theme risks included cyberterrorism, climate change, nuclear weapons, and the energy supply. In one session, Hamadoun I. Touré of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi spoke about pervasive computer use offering the prospect of a global knowledge society as well as making billions of individuals into potential superpowers. He is quoted as saying "Every single brain on earth is equal and can trigger an attack."

That report was in today's paper. Yesterday's op-ed page had a column by Bob Herbert on "Voters want more from Obama." A really interesting discussion of how Obama should let the folks in general know more about how when things are a mess, you need informed and reactive change. We're ready for some strong leadership that works FOR the people's needs other than jingoistic nationalism and America-first crap.

23 August 2008

Weeksville & Alfred

Christie and I ventured out to Historic Weeksville in Bedford-Stuyvesant today. It is a small collection of historic houses, originating from the decades after the Civil War. http://www.weeksvillesociety.org/ The three extant houses are decorated to periods 1870s, circa 1900, and 1930s so there's an interesting variety of furnishings. The guide Anna was enthusiastic and informed. They are called the Hunterfly Road Houses because the road along there was called Hunterfly, a corruption of the Dutch name. The road was originally a Lenape Indian trail. Just like Broadway and many of the roads and streets in the U.S.

The 1930s Williams House was especially poignant because both Christie and I are thinking about retirement. I am contemplating living in Alfred in the family house which was built in the 1870s by my great-grandfather and his father-in-law. Some of the stuff in the kitchen was evocative of the house I still think of as my grandmother's though she probably thought of it as HER grandmother's. You can see a couple pictures of the house at http://people.alfred.edu/~fmuller/VillageProject/164011/1016/index.html

Living there would mean that I'm the fifth generation of my family in the house. When I was a child, my grandmother and her second husband lived downstairs and my great aunt and her second husband lived upstairs. My folks lived upstairs after my great aunt's health weakened and she moved downstairs with my grandmother. After my great aunt and grandmother had died, my folks moved downstairs and my brother and his wife moved in upstairs until they built their house on the hill outside the village of Alfred. So, actually, I wouldn't be the first fifth-generation person to live there.

17 August 2008

encounters with ...

Elizabeth Lilker had highly recommended seeing Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World, for the images. And it is a beautiful film. As I was watching it at the Quad (I'm now eligible for senior rate; yea!), the scenes of McMurdo air base on Antarctica looked familiar, like the photos of An-My Lê. Indeed, her photos are also of McMurdo, a bleak but serene landscape. And then on Friday, I'd been to Murray Guy and the wonderful Flemish frieze of saints masquerading as soldiers had been on the office wall. It's such an incredible photo: a frieze of soldiers in various stances looking like a scene of standing saints.

After Murray Guy, I went up to P.P.O.W. to see the Wojnarowicz show. The image just inside the door really confronts you aesthetically and thematically. The rest of the show was pretty interesting too. A lovely photo by Wolfgang Tillmans of feet and lower legs: "in the night."

On to Long Island City. I got there early enough to visit P.S. 1 before the ARLIS/NY tour of the Richard Meier Model Museum. The P.S. 1 courtyard show this summer is Public Farm One, part of the Young Architects Program. Lots of interesting info and fun to look at too, particularly so soon after standing in my brother's garden as he thinned the beets. I wasn't doing any gardening myself but I did take the weeds as Doug pulled them and tossed them on the mulch pile.

The Richard Meier models are great. There are several whole-site ones of the Getty as the design evolved as well as the huge final model. There are also some wonderful detail models such as staircases and light wells. After we visited the museum, about a dozen of us went on to Lounge 47 for a snack, drink and chat. A lovely afternoon. If you do get over to Long Island City, don't miss the show of women earth artists at the Sculpture Center. There's a great staircase/amphitheater by Alice Aycock, a great Jackie Ferrara in the courtyard, and a number of other really interesting works. Oops, just checked: the show closed in late July.

27 July 2008

"Boy A"

"Boy A" is playing at Film Forum. It's quite a devastating story. The neglected geeky kid falls in with the truly bad kid who, of course, has a story and maybe an excuse to be a misfit. Not that that justifies crime. Boy A is being protected by a guy who, in turn, has neglected his son who had lived with his mother after she left the guy. Pretty tangled. My folks were deeply involved with folks in the church and other charitable endeavors they were involved with. I didn't feel neglected as I was growing up and I don't know if my older sisters did. My youngest sister and my brother (the two youngest kids in the family) do feel that the folks sometimes ignored our deep concerns while dealing with others. I guess I was so deeply sublimating my sexuality that I didn't really want the attention. Anyway the movie really resonated.

memorial moments

Randy Pausch, professor and author of The last lecture: He did, however, mention that he experienced a near-deathbed conversion: he switched and bought a Macintosh computer. (N.Y. Times, 26 July 2008)

Katherine Kinkade, founder of utopian commune: ... more pioneer than hippie ... "She was not fond of group hugs, had no interest in alternative medicine, nature-centered activities or tofu lasagna." (N.Y. Times, 27 July 2008)

05 July 2008

everything is also possible

On the last day that I was in southern California for ALA, John Maier and I walked over to the Crystal Cathedral. I'd seen pictures of Philip Johnson's glass church for Robert Schuller in a Global architecture decades ago. I'm not sure I knew that Richard Meier had designed the Welcoming Center and I am absolutely sure that I didn't know that the first church was designed by Richard Neutra. Quite a nice complex of modernist architecture. Schuller's message is very positive and American dream -- the engraved slogan was along the lines of everything being possible.

The sculpture on the grounds is mostly pretty kitschy with several works by John Seward Johnson. The "Prodigal Son" is quite amazing. As we passed the "Rest on the Flight into Egypt," a fellow was praying and crossing himself. Seemed kind of Catholic for such a Protestant place.

The Welcoming Center is a museum of Schulleriana with some speakers from the drive-in church era and a tar patch. You probably have to see it to believe it. From the third floor, you can see the hills of La Habra Heights from which Sharon Chickanzeff hails. The store is quite full of wonderful tchotchkes.

We were a bit hungry as we left and stopped at Winchell's Donuts for a snack. The slogan on the bag was "with a donut in each hand, anything is possible." They had to know they are just a block or two from the possibilities church!

27 June 2008

confluence, RDA, Big Heads

It may be a wonderful confluence of cataloging trends. At this morning's Big Heads, there was a report from John Attig about RDA development and implementation as well as a discussion of the LC response to the report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and on the results of a survey on vendor records. At two or three points, the concept of embryonic bibliographic records came up. The embryo is not the important aspect; the evolution of that record and the accretion of additional access is what makes the concept potentially revolutionary.

RDA is different from AACR2 in discussing the nature and form of an element more than how the elements fit together. While that can be frustrating for us catalogers who have been at it for a while, it can also be freeing. Since the implementation of ISBD in the mid-1970s, we have thought of a bib record as having a character that could be marked as pre-ISBD, ISBD, or AACR. As we move into RDA, it may be more profitable to think of elements as RDA but not worth it to try to code a record as RDA.

It seems to me this really fits with the idea of a record that accretes information. The record might start out as the barest description but adds descriptive elements, subject headings, call numbers, etc as it is used by various catalogers and other record builders. As the book is used, the record might also grow with social tags, reviews, relationships, pictures of the bookjacket, sample text, full text links, whatever. Sounds a bit like Amazon or Flickr.

It will be interesting to see how this mindframe works itself out in the MARBI discussions of RDA and MARC, perhaps especially how the FRBR Group 1 entities play out.

20 June 2008

Pinocchio's Library at Daneyal Mahmood

Peter Belyi
Pinocchio's Library

19 June - 31 July 2008
opening reception:
Thursday | 19 June | 6-8 PM

511 WEST 25 ST, 3FL
phone: 212 675 2966
Tues.-Sat. 11am to 6pm

Daneyal Mahmood Gallery presents Pinocchio's Library. Modellatura, which generally included an ideal vision of the future, was an extremely popular genre during the 1920s, an age of grand utopias. Not only did artists invest time and energy in creating models of future cities, but conceived their own artworks as indicators for potential technical projects. Peter Belyi's "memorial modelling," however, casts its gaze into the past, to the 1960s and 1970s, a period that saw the existence of one of the last utopian expressions of our era. The artist's intent is to use this "new" genre of representation to search for one of the paradigms of humanity: hope in the future produced by disillusionment with the past.

The wooden puppet Pinocchio is the project's protagonist, incarnating the figure of an architect obsessed with grandiose projects through which he hopes to transform the world, as well as an indissoluble deposit of utopian ideology present in each and every one of us. Like its hero, Pinocchio's Library is made of wood, and its books cannot be opened. They are solid marker stones of useless knowledge, inaccessible and impossible to consult ever again. That which was once a source of knowledge has been transformed into an indissoluble deposit of utopian knowledge, a memorial to utopia itself. And yet Pinocchio's Library is rife with the hopes of each one of us and above all, with the fact that one day the wooden puppet will be transformed into a real child.

Peter Belyi was born in 1971 in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), where he continues to live and work. His principal solo shows include: La Biblioteca di Pinocchio, Pack Gallery, Milan (2008); Unnecessary Alphabet, Anna Frants Space Gallery, New York, (2007); Danger Zone, Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, New York, (2007); Lenproekt, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2007), SH854, Guelman Gallery, Moscow, (2005); City Heights, Gallery 27 (2001), Cork Street, London.

Belyi has also participated in numerous group shows, including: Reconstruction (2 man show), Atelier 2, Vinzavod, Moscow (2008); Celestial Mechanics, Pulkovo Observatory, St. Petersburg, (2007); Something About Power (2 man show), 2nd Moscow Biennale, Russia (2007); Border Territory, Mars Gallery, 2nd Moscow Biennale, Russia (2007); Architecture Ad Marginum, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2007); Modus R, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, (2006); Post Modellismus, Krinzinger Progekte Galerie, Vienna, (2005). His artwork has been included in the permanent collections of: The Margulies Collection, Miami; the Russian State Museum, St Petersburg, Russia; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Cambridge.

17 June 2008

the laws of the jungle

Weinberger's laws of the jungle
Everything is miscellaneous

The four new strategic principles:
Filter on the way out, not on the way in.
Put each leaf on as many branches as possible.
Everything is metadata and everything can be a label.

In the miscellaneous order, the only distinction between metadata and data is that metadata is what you already know and data is what you're trying to find out.
Give up control.

The "laws of the jungle" chapter (p. 84-106) includes an interesting analysis of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus.


Murtha Baca and I co-wrote a chapter on FRBR for cultural objects in Arlene Taylor's book Understanding FRBR. We lost track, in a good way, of who originated which words. I remember some of the words and definitely the examples but the flow of the article became OURS, not hers or mine. There's an article in the Times from June 10th on the Rolex program to pair developing artists with masters. Alejandro Cesarco and John Baldessari are one of the pairs; Cesarco has long been a favorite, for his made-up indexes and other wordy art. Baldessari has of course been doing conceptual stuff with words for years and years. In the article, Cesarco is quoted thus:

The most gratifying thing about this program was working together with him on a work that became a synthesis of our practices. It's not recognizable who did what, which is what's nice about collaborating, because you are trying to work outside your comfort zone and pushing your collaborator to work outside his.

Of course, that makes the metadata more difficult but then Leonardo and Verrocchio have been making that hard for art historians for centuries.

When I went to go fetch a link for John Baldessari, I found his "JB_new" page and it has a groovy graphic tree. Oh my gosh, it's Baldessari's birthday!

16 June 2008

everything is platonic

I've started reading Everything is miscellaneous by David Weinberger, thanks to Johanna Bauman who suggested it some time ago and again at the VRA chapter meeting last week. The subtitle is "the power of the new digital disorder." Weinberger writes about how we categorize things: we as catalogers, we as information seekers; how the digital world allows us (or Amazon or Flickr or whatever) to dis-connect and re-connect bits of information based on needs of the moment; how all together we inform each other (if inform is the right verb); how connections grow and morph. Here's just a teaser from page 62:

"Dewey liked the precision, predictability, and uniqueness of decimal numbers, Amazon throws books in front of your eyes with abandon. Compared to the neat row of numbered volumes on the shelf of the library, Amazon is a carnival of books, where even the orderly rows of the marching band are interrupted by a weaving conga line of suggestions."

A few pages further on, he's talking about "lumps and splits" and lists. Lumps for when you put things in the same basket, splits when you put them in different baskets. He talks about maps, nests, and trees, and Plato and Aristotle. When he's talking about Plato, he exemplifies Plato's ideal by talking about the 501st elephant which is more real than the herd of 500 because it represents Elephant. It sounded rather like Work in FRBR: intangible, eternal, ideal. Oy.

07 June 2008

would ben be proud?

Tuesday's N.Y. Times had an article about the Mercantile Library moving from its longtime home in Midtown Manhattan. There's a picture of the top of the card catalog with a bust of Benjamin Franklin. The caption reads "Noreen Tomassi, executive director of the Mercantile Library, among the portraits and paintings that will move to a new location, as will a bust of Benjamin Franklin, a noted librarian." True, he did some statesmenlike and inventive things but what a librarian!?

nature & culture

Christie and I finally got over to the Fulton Street waterfront to see the Telectroscope. It's pretty fantastic, this 19th-century optical connection between the New York City and London. But nature was up to her tricks: thick fog over the East River, obscuring the shoreline on the NYC side of the river. It was beautiful, hard to take your eyes off it. We waved to the Brits, giggled at the wonder of it, then walked up through Brooklyn Heights to a bit of breakfast at Teresa's. Now inside contemplating "work and image."

31 May 2008

nothing new under the sun; you knew that

The call for papers for "The Green Nineteenth Century" -- the 30th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March 2009 -- includes this text:

We welcome paper and panel proposals concerning any aspect of "green" studies in the long nineteenth century, including, but not limited to "ecocriticism" in nineteenth-century studies; history of ecological science, environmental ethics, and environmentalist activism; nineteenth-century studies and animal welfare; ecofeminist philosophy and gender politics; contemporary discourses on nature; nineteenth-century ecotourism; Romantic "ecopoetics" and the politics of nature; "green" program music and tone poems; sustainability, including sustainable architecture and interior design; landscape painting and nature imagery; dramatic scenery; color associations and color theories; gardening and farming; conservation movements; and the idea of the "natural" or "unnatural." Equally welcome are proposals for papers and panels on Irish studies, earth-centered religions, the idea of the "new," and other understandings of "green" studies in the nineteenth century.

Perhaps this especially resonated because I'd had a discussion about office conservation with a co-worker yesterday as we closed up the office. I said my family actually competes a bit on out-greening each other ... that is as much as any of us compete, except at Scrabble, Monopoly, etc.

A watches B watches C

It was a "Metropolitan Diary" moment (but they'd probably consider it not fit to print). As I walked home for lunch yesterday, there was a handsome worker picking at the caulking around the window on the building on Washington Square West. He was faced the other way so I was staring. A pretty woman walked by in the other direction. His head swirled to look at her. Or maybe it's a really trite New Yorker cartoon. Or Paul Cadmus painting.

25 May 2008

Patrick Ireland

The Times had an article about the death of Patrick Ireland, the artistic alterego of critic Brian O'Doherty. The intersection of cataloging and life moments. O'Doherty "invented" Ireland in 1972 as a response to the British presence in Northern Ireland. Recently, he had a funeral for Patrick Ireland and buried the alterego. I'll probably add a note to the NACO record. Since the heading doesn't have life dates, it obviates the issue of physical and intellectual life dates. Are Ireland's "life dates" 1972-2008 or those of O'Doherty? Not that it matters a great deal.

I finished reading The Palace of Varieties this morning. It's the latest novel by James Lear, another sexy romp with historical setting, hardly a new genre. This one is set in 1930s London and features a young man, in from Sussex to escape a drunken father and find his fortune or whatever. Reading Lear is easy. Reading Lear right after Trollope's He knew he was right is quite amusing. Lear appropriates a historical mode and Trollope is quintessentially Victorian. The dogged determination of Trollope's characters is quite the foil for Lear's "take it as it comes."

Morning is so beautiful here on Carol and Barb's hill in Branchport. The birds singing their various songs. It's chilly this morning but we didn't get a frost here as Doug said they threatened in Alfred. Somehow the morning beckons here. Morning's fine in NYC but almost screams "get up!" here in the country. And now the folks begin to rise.

12 May 2008

what do they know?

We were meandering around Brooklyn Designs in DUMBO yesterday afternoon after a lovely brunch at Stan's Place on Atlantic Avenue. Looking up at the supports of the Manhattan Bridge is just so wonderful. I love the heavy classicism, the round arches, the rusticated columns, the tapered pilasters, the little hooded shelters along the pedestrian path. I was thinking "Hornbostel" as we looked and checked the AIA guide when I got home. They say that the Manhattan Bridge is "perhaps the least inspiring design of any of the city's suspension bridges" (4th ed., p. 82). Hornbostel also worked on the Carnegie-Mellon campus.

10 May 2008


Lovely morning. Not warm, nice spring chilly. I got out fairly early for a Saturday and wasn't able to get a haircut appointment before 10:30 so I meandered over to the Center to get the weekly rags: HX, Next, Gay city news, Blade, Philadelphia gay news. Really good walking temperature. And still it wasn't 10:30 and St Mark's Bookshop doesn't open until 10. I sat on a bench in Cooper Square but with construction on two or three sides, it wasn't good diary writing or reading space. Off to St Mark's where I found Worlds away: new suburban landscapes. Why is it that if I love walking the city streets so much that I am also drawn to studies of suburbanization process. Is it just that land use and human geography are so much a part of sprawl, strip stores, Googie architecture, etc. Or is it because I'm a Gemini? Christina Peter and I had quite a conversation last night at NYTSL about how we're not overly astrological but recognize that one's sign is reflected in our life course. Her folks said she was a bad Leo and good ... can't remember. She's not aggressive enough to be a normal Leo but has some of the characteristics.

Worlds away has a wonderful lexicon of "suburban neologisms" by Rachel Hooper and Jayme Yen (p. 270-288). It's in the salmon-colored pages. There are also green, blue, ochre, gray, and white pages. I bought the book partly because I knew Laura Migliorino had some works illustrated but also because it's aesthetically pleasing. It's published by the Walker Art Center and was designed by Andrew Blauvelt and Chad Kloepfer. Laura's photos are of families overlain on their domestic setting. The Walker bought a copy of "Egret Street" a year or two ago.

Sitting in Cooper Square was a bit of future tripping. The Technical Services Department is scheduled to move out of the Bobst Library building at the end of the year. Bobst is the central library for NYU, and NYU's libraries are fairly central so there aren't lots of branches though Courant, IFA, and REI aren't dinky operations to be sneezed at. Anyway, we're moving because zoning won't allow NYU to develop any new classrooms East of Broadway. Our space in Bobst is therefore to be converted to classrooms and we'll get windows. The building at 20 Cooper Square looks like a nice loft/warehouse building. Unfortunately, the space can't be ours permanently and we'll have to move in a couple years again. Since the office culture could use a good jolt, I'm hoping that the new environment will be a good jolt. What are the chances of that? A few weeks ago, I would have accepted a retirement offer in a second; recently, I've been feeling more optimistic. ARLIS/NA conference? Visiting with Geurt Imanse who was in town last week? Spring? Or just the Gemini flow?

07 May 2008

sometimes you wonder where you've been all your life

Ray Schwartz happened to send me a notice for the Spencer Finch talk last night at Cedar Lake. Finch is doing the first public art installation on the High Line. When I sent the notice to the ARLIS/NY list last week, Holly Wilson said "thanks" and he's one of her favorite artists. I trust Holly's taste (is that safe?) and decided I should go even though I just got back from the ARLIS/NA conference in Denver on Monday night and could probably use some sorting and/or sleeping time. But, boy, the lecture was great. Holly and her husband have a couple drawings by Finch: a drawing of snowflakes is one of them. Finch is captivating. His website is at http://www.spencerfinch.com/. The first part of the High Line park is supposed to be open in the later fall and Finch's project (stained glass windows in the building above the Chelsea Market) is scheduled to be up for a year from then.

So why wasn't this wonderful artist already in my ken? He was at RISD but graduated in 1989. I didn't work there until academic year 1989/1990. He has exhibited at galleries where I certainly have been numerous times. He does the kind of conceptual, thoughtful, quirky, ironic, earthy stuff I like, sometimes subtle, sometimes outrageous. Oh, well, NOW I know. Thanks, Holly. Not only all that but he also talked about the creativity that can come from not having enough to do. Finch had been in New Zealand for some time not so long ago and showed up some slides of stuff he did out of the boredom. I couldn't help reflecting on my brother's thoughts about me surviving in Alfred where there's stuff to do but it ain't New York City.

John Maier, Alycia Sellie, and Matt (Alycia's partner) also joined us. We walked past the Finch site and ended up at Karavas for some food -- I think it basically satisfied both the meat eater and vegetarian crowd. The pita was warm and the felafel was tasty. Alycia and Matt are from Wisconsin so I had some fun talking about Michael Perry, the author and humorist who writes about New Auburn, the town where we lived in the early 1950s. Early life thoughts are especially rampant these days, just having gotten back from Colorado where we lived in the later 1950s. I didn't get up to Boulder but did have good Colorado thoughts.

29 April 2008

not supposed to be cool

"They looked at me like I wasn't cool. I thought, 'This is a library -- we're not supposed to be cool.'"
-- Matt Taunton, 28-year old postdoc at British Library, quoted in N.Y. times in article about crowds in the British Library reading rooms, too many of whom are giggling, texting, flirting, and I guess just being cool. cf "London journal" on April 28, 2008, p. A10 in the NYC late edition. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/world/europe/28library.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=british+library&st=nyt&oref=slogin

27 April 2008

Bombay TV

Kudos to Elaine Paul for discovering Bombay TV! http://www.flytobollywood.com/ You too can be a famous moviemaker!?!

music, art and dance, oh my

Pretty splendiferous weekend for the arts for me though it ended with someone booing at the Joyce. They must have read that article in the Times a month or two ago about booing.

Friday night was an American Composers Orchestra concert at Zankel Hall, with works by Charles Mason, Jonathan Dawe, Anna Clyne, Peter Heller, Dan Trueman, and Ned McGowan. Charles Mason's "Additions" was lovely in the granular modern style. Don't know if granular is the right word but it's that distinct note business, not all mellifluous with huge string bowing. "Armide" by Jonathan Dawe was a blend of Lully and laptop, in the wonderful cacophonous modern style. Anna Clyne's "Tender hooks" mixed the orchestra with one laptop doing music and another doing graphics. After intermission, a bit of nice interlude with Peter Heller's "Fanfare for Mary," a brass quintet. On to Dan Trueman's "Silicon/carbon." Two laptops isn't enough; let's go for 8 and the PLork (Princeton Laptop Orchestra). The evening ended with Ned McGowan, his big contrabass flute constructed of PVC and "Bantammer swing." I liked it all and was bubbling as I boarded the subway train with my colleague Andrea Harpole who was coming from Art Students League.

During intermission, I read my brother's presentation that he did last week at the Bergren Forum at Alfred University. It's a history of Seventh Day Baptists in Alfred and elsewhere. A cousin of my mother died recently and she called herself an SDB by culture if not by faith. That's pretty close to my story too.

Saturday's gallery hopping started with the Anh-My Lê show at Murray Guy. Really incredible, especially a very green one with a frieze of soldiers in camo, at rest in a forest glade. The soldiers are like a group of saints in a medieval or renaissance painting: a variety of poses, facial expressions, still but something important is in the air. I talked to Janice Guy and Margaret Murray quite a while about the works. This series of works is in color, large prints (maybe 30 by 45 inches), and it evokes much thought about the military machine. The views are all of military installations or activities. The last show was views of Twentynine Palms, a base in California, and was all in black-and-white, rich and dusty.

When I got to Matthew Marks for the Hujar show, I found another renaissance painting: a naked man with a sheet over his shoulders, the light hitting the fabric in a beautiful way. There was also the wonderful portrait of Charles Ludlum with a dotted veil over most of his face; the dots look rather like queer eyes, giving the portrait a surreal cast. Of course, looking at Hujar's photos is bittersweet since he died of AIDS.

With 250 or however many galleries in West Chelsea, there's no way you're going to get to all of them. I had started up that way with Murray Guy, Hujar, and Scott Treleaven on the list, figuring I'd stop at galleries until I got tuckered out. As always, there was at least one real find.

Today's unexpected find was the Bruce High Quality Foundation Retrospective at Susan Inglett Gallery. The work in the window attracted and repelled me but I decided to go in. In the back room was a film being projected way up high on the wall. I started watching it and got drawn into it. Part of the text was "this is public art, this is collaboration" as the same or contrasting images flashed by, e.g., the Iwo Jima photo/sculpture. With all the thinking I've been doing about social computing, and all the talk of strategic planning at work, this collaboration/public art stuff was mesmerizing. Great comparisons. You can find out more about them at http://www.thebrucehighqualityfoundation.com/Site/HOME.html or buy the catalog ($20 at the gallery) which includes a substantial section on the film with much (if not all) of the text. Maybe you had to be there but then the BHQF is dedicated to finding an alternative to everything.

Also on the worth going to list: Thomas Nozkowski at PaceWildenstein; Gary Panter at Clementine (I especially liked the little quonset hut model in the back); "Disavowal (Mark Wyse)" at Wallspace (very intriguing comparisons of photos, via reproductions, so of course you may now think Benjaminian thoughts); Gregory Crewdson at Luhring Augustine (interesting contrast with Anh-My Lê who I'll take any day). The Treleaven show was not so amusing.

I figured if I was going to walk up to see the Dargerism show at the American Folk Art Museum, I might as well stop at Exit Art on the way. Didn't know what the show was but found them in the second or third day of a silent auction. Audrey Christensen (archivist and former MoMA library assistant) was there so we got to talk for a while. She mentioned the EPA (environmental something) show downstairs and there was a wonderful video of some people in black garbage bags doing street interventions. Can't decide if it was wonderful, activist or just "Candid Camera." She also mentioned that Bruce High Quality was a special friend of Exit Art and they will be doing something special at their Williamsburg gallery sometime soon so I guess I better stay tuned.

There are some good things in the Dargerism show: Anthony Goicolea's films; Amy Cutler's works looking a bit like Marcel Dzama whose show I saw at Zwirner a week or two ago; very unsettling Justin Lieberman "Thank heaven for little girls" which mixes Jock Sturges little naked girls on defigured Darger backgrounds. The "Asa Ames, occuptation sculpturing" show upstairs was quite nice.

That evening, I went to the Seán Curran concert at Dance Theater Workshop. The first piece was set to Wuorinen music and the dancers dressed in little undies. Quite lovely. Sound for the second piece mixed Handel arias with taped apologies from The Apology Line, probably my favorite piece. One of the male dancers could move and extend his limbs in a most wonderful manner. The third piece with live music by a very downtown cellist was best liked by the Times reviewer (read it after!) but not by me. I don't deny its energy.

As I read the papers this morning (that's the Sunday paper and some of last week's that were still unread), I noted the description of the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam run at the Joyce. I'm awfully glad I went. The first piece was seven men dancing on artificial turf, together, apart, in sync, in mock battle. Then a solo. The next one was "The brides" and was set to Stravinsky's "Les noces" but such a "raw interpretation" (program notes) that you'd have thought it Southeast Asian folk music. Or maybe it was the compelling face of dancer Sherida Lie. The last piece is described in the program as "mysterious, dramatic and absurd." Animal-like gestures, leaves on the dancer's bodies falling off. I was surprised by the booing (though it seemed fairly singular).

And now I'm sitting at the computer. I should be working on the review of the year in art cataloging (time is running out, the ARLIS/NA conference starts real soon) but I'm still ruminating about all that stuff. My brother and I were having a chat about living in Alfred and I said I could do it. He said: YOU?!?! (my punctuation). I do think I could. And that leads me to pass on an interesting statistic from the good Rachel Donadio essay at the back of today's NYTBR. She says that a recent report from the NEA found that 53% of Americans hadn't read a book in the previous year. I know that academia and museumia are not the real world but 53% had NOT read a book in the last year. I'm stunned. At the same time, more books are being published and, oops, 175,000 new blogs are started every day. By the by, the title of the essay is "You're an author? Me too!"

Now I gotta go get a ticket for "It is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the society in which he lives" by Rosa von Praunheim which is playing in the spirit of 1968 festival at Lincoln Center.