30 April 2010

art and cataloging and art cataloging

Fannie Hillsmith. "Christmas Tree" (1949)
(Currier Museum of Art)


Just got home the day before yesterday from the ARLIS/NA annual conference in Boston, with day trips on either side for art and architecture. I drove to Boston so I'd have the flexibility of such side trips. On the day before the conference cranked up, I drove up to Manchester, New Hampshire to see the Currier Museum of Art and its Zimmerman House, a Usonian house by Frank Lloyd Wright. An added benefit was lunch with Alison Dickey, currently the librarian at the Currier. The museum has a nice collection. Some of the special treats were Ruisdael's view of Egmont (I've been reading Holland mania by Annette Stott about Americans who visited Holland in the 19th and early 20th century, including Egmont), Fannie Hillsmith (local and NYC modernist, experimenting in a variety of styles), James Aronovich (NH super-realist), "Marc Antony and Cleopatra" by Jan de Bray, and a lovely view of the Campagna by Sanford Robinson Gifford. And they had a fine show of watercolors with several by Arthur Garfield Dove.

The Zimmerman House is nice. The ceilings are even high enough that I didn't feel the need to duck, rather a rarity in a later Frank Lloyd Wright house.

The conference cranked up on Friday with a prelude tour of the North Bennet Street School in the North End. Other than the bird pooping on me in Old North Church yard, it was a lovely morning. The school has a book arts specialty and that was the focus of our tour but we went quickly through the piano and string instrument workshops and up to the furniture finishing room. And I ran into Floyd Zula and his partner Kelly again; they were in Manchester at the Currier as well.

Highlights of the conference for me:

  • Table of contents as a marker of clarity and complexity: both the Wittenborn and Dwyer book award presenters talked about the value of a good TOC or other apparatus. It evoked, for me, the work of Alejandro Cesarco who has done indexes and TOCs for nonexistent books. You have to put the book together based on the proximity of index references, for example.

  • The honorable mention for the Dwyer Award was the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative. Always love a new addition to my biographical resources for building NACO records.

  • The Avery Library is thinking about building a Built Works Inventory. It would make a fine complement to the Cultural Object Name Authority which the Getty is working on. More exciting for me is the role the inventory might play relative to our longstanding struggle over the neat bipartite "divided world" in LC authorities land. I hope we can get to a point of an entity authority file, instances and not classes of instances. By the way, there's a CONA webinar on May 4th.

  • The Cataloging Advisory Committee is just about done with the access points chapter of Cataloging exhibition publications--best practices.

  • Cataloging Problems Discussion Group (now in its 35th year, give or take) was a fine gathering. We talked about RDA (testing about to begin), shelflisting (curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have enough books in their office that they try to arrange them by call number and notice discrepancies?!?!), OCLC Institution Records (do you make them for all items? no items? selectively? Brooklyn does them selectively and we hope they have criteria to share), and museum publisher contributions to CIP (parallel to a few university libraries that do the CIP for their press).

  • The Joan Mitchell Foundation is funding a pilot project with late-career artists on legacy and estate planning. A database was set up for entry of works. Some of the older artists are being paired with a younger artist. They're also investigating self-journaling and social software. Eumie Imm-Stroukoff talked about this work and the other panelists were Heather Gendron on Cai Guo-Qiang's archive and Greg Hatch on the Utah Artists Project. One of the UAP's treasures is 500K slides from emeritus professor Lennox Tierney and videos and oral history.

  • We western New Yorkers got together with the Ontario folks to begin cranking up for the 2012 conference in Toronto. But first we get to get excited about Minneapolis and the joint ARLIS/NA-VRA conference next year. I haven't been there since the early 1980s and really want to see the new Walker building and the MIA, and Saint Paul, and ...


After the Cataloging Section meeting about shelf-ready copy and new sources and energy for NACO work, Daniel and I went back to the hotel to check out. Daniel went off to the bus and I went to Bill's with my suitcase. After taking a deep breath, I decided to walk over to Mount Auburn Cemetery. Like Forster without a Baedeker, I took off and walked around the whole bloody cemetery before I found the Egyptian Revival gates. It was a lovely day in America's first landscaped or garden cemetery. Back to Bill's and then off to have supper with Alix Reiskind and her family.

Next morning, Bill and I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see the Roni Horn show. It was really wonderful and the most sublime moments were in the narrow gallery with the audio piece: Roni Horn "reciting" the lines from the bottom of the water photographs. The gallery overlooks the harbor and the clouds were settling in on the northern part of Boston.


Bill went off to work and I went to Calamus Bookstore for a while and then back to Bill's and then took off for home. I had decided that I'd somehow get to New York City to see the Dijon mourners and "Belles Heures" at the Met. I had mentioned to Hugh Wilburn who has a new country house and pottery studio in Great Barrington that I might come by and we finally connected ... by email, from Fuel coffee house in Great Barrington. Great evening but the post-midnight bedtime maybe wasn't too wise.

We awoke to snow flakes in the air but I got to the Met a little after noon. It was tough to be at the Met and realize that it is no longer always there for me, just a subway ride away. Especially when there are special shows but just the permanent collection takes my breath away. I stopped to see some of my special favorites in the medieval galleries and then took off for Alfred. The rain stopped after a while and the sky was clear for the last hour or so. The sunset was magnificent but I was glad to stop driving.

22 April 2010

FLW for the main course and dessert


Darwin Martin House, Buffalo, NY, at the ARLIS/WNY meeting on April 8th


Zimmerman House, Manchester, NY, as a personal tour before the ARLIS/NA conference in Boston, April 22nd

04 April 2010

giants, sardines, and apples


Who would have thought when I took this picture in January that I would be reading about how the Beach Cliff sardine packing plant in Prospect Harbor, Maine would be closing in April? Today's New York times has an article entitled "A clattering heritage of Maine's industrial past closes in on a final spin."

A 70-year old woman who wasn't ready to retire, Nancy Harrington, is quoted: I don't know how to do anything else [other than packing sardines]. I don't want nothing to do with computers. I don't have one, I don't want to learn. No, sir. I'm going to do my scrapbooking and quilting."

And thinking about computers and the passage of time, there was also an article in the paper about the lines of fanatics ready to buy an iPad. "Matthew Thouvenin, 26, was born the year Apple introduced the Macintosh ..." But wait, that means that I've had a Macintosh almost as long as Matthew has been alive. I got my first one -- a 128K with external drive -- in the spring of 1985. Now on my fourth, a MacBook ... and still loving it.