21 December 2009

the connections

I finally got my Christmas letter written and took it to the copy shop this morning. Now, I'm up in the library catching up on the latest issue of Artforum. It was good to see that one of the books I cataloged at Bard in November was selected by a critic as a "best of 2009." That book is Stüdyo Osep by Tayfun Serttaş (Beyoğlu, İstanbul: Aras, c2009), selected by Banu Cennetoğlu. Things Turkish always make me think of Hikmet Doğu who has written about Robert Smithson as well as being a librarian, now in Salt Lake City. She also happened to knit my winter hat which has a tail. I would love to see Turkey: the Roman and other archeological sites, the arid landscape and Mediterranean coast, the Muslim heritage as well. Someday. One of my NYU colleagues (Scot Dalton, whose wife is Turkish) said it would be possible to travel there, even into the countryside, by yourself which was encouraging.

Another of the year's best books is Art workers: radical practice in the Vietnam War era by Julia Bryan-Wilson (University of California Press), selected by Carrie Lambert-Beatty. JBW is a member of the Queer Caucus for Art and her book is to be featured in the issue now being compiled.

The music "best" was diverse and I hadn't heard of most of it. Just Shostakovich's "The nose" as done in Boston. I'd seen the announcement of its NYC presentation but missed it. You know I'm pretty sensitive about nose stuff and wished that I could have gone. My friend Sara Jane Pearman sent some Frosty the Snowman jokes that were quite insensitive AND funny! One of my recurring musical treats over the past year was the flute playing of Tara Helen O'Connor. I heard her two or three times at Miller Theater at Columbia and also at Zankel Hall.

The latest number of Mein schwules Auge came in yesterday's mail. It's a lovely and exciting mix of pictures and texts. Alas, most of the text is in German and mine isn't up to the task. But there was an article entitled "Alles für Roberto" so it all came around to more connections.

13 December 2009

Madrid, Bosch, and Sorolla

My trip to Madrid just after Thanksgiving was delightful, not just for the Palladio exhibition at the CaixaForum which was the impetus. The building for the CaixaForum is a redo by Herzog + de Meuron. The vertical garden they did with botanist Patrick Blanc on the wall of another building on the plaza just outside the museum is incredible. The paintings at the Prado were just thrilling and chances for a bit of Stendhal Syndrome. Bosch is a favorite painter and the Prado has five including the Garden of Delights and an Epiphany that I wrote about in grad school. The Thyssen Bornemisza has one or two Bosches. The Lazaro Galdiano has one. I lost track but a Bosch a day keeps boredom away. I took a bunch of pictures and I think my favorite is this one of the paint pots in Joaquín Sorolla's studio: You can see more pictures by clicking on the Flickr photostream link at the bottom of this page. I hope to get more notes written up eventually. Bill Connor was my traveling companion and his pictures are also loaded in my photostream. We got to Segovia and I really enjoyed the Roman aqueduct and the Romanesque churches. We also went to the Escorial which was delightful.

It's always fun to be reading something that matches or conflicts with your traveling. While we were there, I was reading Our magnificent bastard tongue by John McWhorter. So it was a history of the English language while trying not to screw up too much in communicating with Hispanophones. But we did pass a restaurant called Route 66 and that reminded me that I was reading Phil Patton's book on Route 66 while sitting in an Amsterdam coffee house of that name. By the way, McWhorter's book was very interesting. As the blurb on the cover says, the book "wears its erudition lightly."