30 June 2010

glimmers of hope

Lots of interesting stuff during ALA and I'm still processing it. Ronald Murray presented his work on a "FRBR paper tool" which, as someone said after he presented at CC:DA, was either exhilarating, exhausting, or terrifying, or all of the above. What was exciting for me was that it seemed to move us beyond some of my concerns about FRBR. That is, people seemed to be chasing Work, Expression, Manifestation, and Item to the detriment of moving forward toward a response that built a richer as well as collocated response to a query. Murray's networks of bibliographic relationships allow a system to build trees that can use the building blocks. Not only did it seem promising for texts but he also momentarily had a parallel 4-layer context for archives: fonds, series, folders, items (I think that was it). I wonder if there's a similar hierarchy for visual materials and cultural objects which will make sense. A starting point into the web stuff on Murray's work can be found at http://dltj.org/article/frbr-paper-tool-presentation/ (first hit when you google "frbr paper tool" -- the report on a November 2009 presentation at the Library of Congress).

Oh ... and his charts were beautiful. As I was looking at them, I was thinking of hiring a silversmith to turn one into a necklace. Or maybe a knit version? If it was macramé, it would probably work for philodendron.

Later that morning, I went to an OCLC program entitled "Cataloging alchemy: making your data work harder" which included Rich Greene talking about GLIMIR (Global Library Manifestation Identifier). They've focused so far on parallel-record and reproduction identifiers which will help them pull together editions/printings/records for closely-related resources. Rich indicated that they might be able to do some enhancing of the resulting cluster, e.g., access points at the cluster level. I'm dreaming of enhanced subject access because of this, or more contents analysis because one edition has a contents note. Hmm, enhanced RLIN clusters. The basis for GLIMIR building is the new version of the duplicate detection report which OCLC has started using. This will help match and merge simple vendor records with fuller ones, both in batch-loading and already in the database. They plan on working their way through the 195 million records in the OCLC database.

There were other exciting things at ALA Annual, that was just on Monday. I'll work on my ALA report as soon as I can. Meanwhile, it's still a couple hours to Binghamton and then three hours to Alfred. Buses with wireless internet access are pretty nice but it's a little cramped for spreading out your ALA notes.

19 June 2010

books and zines

Pretty exciting. I got to meet my closest parallel book collector in LibraryThing: Paul Ranogajec, a doctoral student in American architectural history. cf. paulranogajec.com He's a buddy of Roberto Ferrari, art librarian and now doctoral student himself, both of them at the CUNY Grad Center. Roberto is Paul's closest LT parallel, or is it the other way around? Anyway, we had a good time talking about our collections and art/architecture interests over a nice brunch in the garden at Bacchus on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. I'm not sure that Paul is convinced yet that he should go to library school but we'll keep working on him. After brunch, we went to a couple nearby used bookshops. I escaped without buying any books at either shop or elsewhere today.

On the way to the subway to go to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), I ran into Bill Jones, former colleague at NYU Libraries. That was fun.

The main reason I was running off to MAD was a panel on "Gay print/queer zines" with Scott Hug of K48, Tony Arena of Anonymous boy collection and other titles, Michael Bullock of BUTT, Jason Lamphier and Noah Michelson of Out, and Dan Avery of NEXT, moderated by someone whose name I didn't catch. Each of them described their magazine or project and then they talked amongst themselves and with us in the audience. I had expected that the hall would be jammed to the rafters but it was fairly sparsely populated. I loved the way Tony Arena talked about his desire for the informal and chaotic. The fellows from Out had some interesting things to say about being fairly mainstream, dealing with print versus web capacity and timing. And almost all of them talked about community as part of their mission. I was intrigued to learn that the founders/editors of BUTT started Fantastic man because they didn't want BUTT to have to go commercial, having started it as a cross between S.T.H. and Index. And the first issue of Gentle woman just came out so there was teasing about covering all the ground now.

This is all fine and dandy but I'm really enjoying the book I've just started: In spite of the gods: the rise of modern India by Edward Luce (Anchor Books, 2008) and I think I'm going to go back to that. I did go read for a while in Prospect Park after discovering and climbing Lookout Hill. The sunset was only just beginning and there weren't enough clouds to really light up the sky with color.

"closed": too early, soccer

It took me quite a while to get going yesterday but I still made it to downtown Manhattan too early for galleries to be open. They mostly open at noon. And ApexArt was playing the Slovenia-U.S.A. soccer game so I didn't go in to see the "Men with balls" show. Artists Space was closed for installation but I did finally get into Leslie/Lohman for "The great LGBTQ photo show" but didn't see any photos that really knocked my socks off. Oh, it's worth visiting.

On to Mercer Street Books, a fine used bookstore near NYU. Getting a bit hungry, I went for the extravagance of a crepe and glass of pinot noir at Shade, a very satisfying lunch. I did hear the guys next to me speculating on the referee in the Slovenia-U.S.A. game. If it wasn't too late or installation, it was soccer but the day was fine altogether.

The Lil Picard show at Grey Art Gallery was on the list so I stopped in. I wasn't familiar with her work and the show is a trip down memory lane, with early postwar and work from into the 1990s. The brochure or wall text included some interesting words about her attempts to be part of the scene but finding the Cedar Bar boys not at all congenial. That is, they just wanted pretty young things, not thinking and acting women. Reminds me of Jo Schaffer's description of visits when she was an art student at Brooklyn College; the girls got to sit in the back row and observe but mostly weren't part of that scene. Thank heavens, we've mostly changed.

It was also interesting to see the drawings of Picard's husband on his death bed in Saint Vincent's Hospital. The last dated drawing in the set was dated June 14th, almost the anniversary.

I ran a couple more errands in the neighborhood and then took off for MoMA PS1 for the "Greater NY" show. Perhaps my favorite moment was the performance in the basement where the artist was putting gold foil on the boiler, using his sweat as adhesive. He was passively standing, brush in hand, on a ladder doing something on a palette. He passed the brush over his neck and then picked up a piece of foil with the brush and applied it to the boiler. Rhythmic and slow-moving. The piece was called "Skewed lies/central governor: a collaborative performance with Saul Melman" by Aki Sasamoto. Among the other works that I liked were Leidy Churchman's paintings, Conrad Ventur's video installation with disco ball, Bruce High Quality Foundation's pedestal exchange, and "Let's face it; we're all queer" (one of the images in A.L. Steiner's "Angry, articulate, inevitable"). Ismail Randall made some interesting mountains out of magazines (sculpted stacks of Vanity fair) in a piece addressing the U.S./Mexico border. Michele Abeles's fine photos had great titles, e.g., "Man, shadow, table, fan, rock" and "Number, fabric, man, hand, rock, icons, cardboard, potatoes."

After I'd done about enough art in GNY, I went to the bookstore and then ordered a cafe au lait. Then, I checked the watch: it was almost 5:30 and I was supposed to be in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn by 6:30. Well, the coffee got drunk more quickly and with less reading than it might have been. Good old 7 to Q however did get me to Cortelyou on the same train that Heidi was on. We went to The Farm on Adderley for some yummy food, with their specialty being local and small-farm stuff. The service and setting were too Manhattan (pretentious) for Heidi's taste but the food was good.

I definitely am of the "eat to live" rather than "live to eat" school but have noticed that these NYC posts from the last few days have all talked about food. The restaurant options in Alfred and environs are definitely thinner than in New York City but the Collegiate Restaurant which has been closed since last fall's fire in the Alfred business district should be open in its new space by the time I get home. Not fine dining, but darn fine food in a friendly atmosphere. When Heidi visits Alfred, she will probably be satisfied that the food and service are a good match.

17 June 2010

West Chelsea gallery hopping

These home-made pencils are only one small bit of a platform with many objects by Ben Gocker in his show at P.P.O.W. Gallery on West 25th Street in New York City. I have been especially enamored of pencils since working at the Amon Carter Museum. There, Paula Stewart and I exchanged pencils as a token gift from our travels. She acquired the habit when she had worked in the photo department before becoming the archivist. Now, I just buy more museum pencils than I can use.

Today's adventures centered on West Chelsea. It started with lunch with Ann Morrell who works at the American Friends Service Committee. Ann and her husband Bill moved earlier this year to the ILGWU apartments on Eighth Avenue. They have a sunny living room with bookcases under the windows. Bright and cheerful. We ate at Le Grainne Cafe, a charming French bistro that used to be Le Gamin. My crepe with turkey, goat cheese, and ratatouille was magnificent.

Food's fine but then we went gallery hopping. Ann joined me for the late Monet show at Gagosian Gallery. As we neared the gallery, we ran into Barbara Reed. Retirement allows one to go gallery hopping on weekdays. It's nice to avoid the crazy West Chelsea weekend crowds.

Ann split after Monet and I crossed 20th Street to Tanya Bonakdar Gallery where Uta Barth and Ian Kiaer were on view. The Barths were especially rich, one with feet on the beach. I am looking forward to going to Fire Island one of the days I'm here in the city. From Bonakdar, I stopped in at Casey Kaplan Gallery and found the Trisha Donnelly sculptures interesting. Donnelly carves big blocks of stone with quite refined parallel lines. Then I went to Printed Matter and actually escaped without buying anything.

Sticking to my list of galleries to visit, I next went to Tracy Williams on 23rd Street to see the Barbara Bloom show entitled "Present" ... as in gift. Great work and Bloom arranged for each of us visitors to get a CD. Haven't played it yet but it is apparently the CD used in the piece with a rug of plans of Steinway pianos. Another piece in the show was a table of glasses with a sound board in the tabletop so that it made sounds as you put your hand over the glasses. This was my first visit to the new Tracy Williams space; they used to be in a rowhouse basement on West 4th Street, an awkward but intimate space. They are working at keeping the intimacy in the new space, partly by interacting with the visitors.

Deborah Bell had a couple dozen photographs from America illustrated by George W. Gardner. Fine photographs. One was of "Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Crumb, Marathon, New York" (1975); I can't wait to get back upstate and ask my sister's partner Barb Crumb if she had relatives in the Marathon area. Another photograph -- "Langhorne, Pennsylvania" (1965) -- included the sign for Flannery's Restaurant along with other roadside stuff. Having just finished reading The violent bear it away by Flannery O'Connor, I was easily finding parallels between O'Connor's characters and the "real" Americans and Americana in Gardner's photographs.

On to the Gocker show entitled "There is really no single poem." Gocker graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is now a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library. Lots of his works resonated with my librarian brain: pencils, words, letters.

I stopped in at Mitchell Algus Gallery and found him packing up to move his space to Morton Street in the West Village. The mean economic times make for even more volatility in the gallerist's life than usual.

Further West on 25th Street, I stopped at ClampArt to see the "Jesse Burke: intertidal" show. I'd first run across Burke at the New York Art Book Fair last fall. Really love the photos. And Brian Clamp had one of my favorite John Arsenault photos in the back "alley" of the gallery: "Getting it in Italy" (2000). I just have to get me one of those John Arsensault photos someday. Have to quit buying so many books (but I did do some freelance cataloging before I blogged). As much as I like the sexy Burkes and Arsenaults, the prints by Stuart Allan were really fine, the varying light of different hours of the day. Reminded me of Spencer Finch's work on the High Line.

On to Galerie Lelong for the Andy Goldsworthy show: "New York dirt water light" with ephemeral "sculptures" on the sidewalks of NYC which faded with traffic. And next door was the William Pope L. show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. This last show opened with a print which had the word "melan-colicky" across the middle. Just cruising, not feeling very melancholy at all.

I've spared you some of the parallels drawn from the gallery visits, e.g., Barbara Bloom's adopted Chinese daughter (think Karen Muller), the new assistant librarian at Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies who is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop as is Flannery O'Connor, the whole O'Connor connection to Debra Kruse's art ... well, I HAD spared you those parallels.


I don't consider myself religious but I am certainly moved by religious art. I'm in New York City for a week or so before going to the ALA conference in Washington. Diana Mitrano is letting me stay at her Brooklyn apartment while she's in Hong Kong. As I left her apartment yesterday thinking about the day's adventures, I decided to go up to the Cloisters, partly to see if I could find Building the medieval art in the bookshop. Being in that space with the fine art is always very moving for me. The view above is of the apse from the Church of Saint Martin in Fuentidueña, Spain with a crucifix from Palencia. Romanesque and Ottonian are probably my favorite medieval periods.

I'm not really sure where the love of medieval art comes from. My 12th-grade art teacher was fond of Romanesque Catalonian frescoes, or at least I got the small books on them that were a couple of my first art books about then. Them, along with the facsimile of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves.

Whatever, I found myself tearing up several times in the Cloisters: for the love of the art, for the joy of being in its company.

From Fort Tryon Park, I took the bus down to the Hispanic Society where I was delighted to find that the Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster show was still on view (closes June 27th so get there soon). She created three dioramas with books as the object in the landscape. There's a wonderful wall of quotations too. Since my last visit to the Hispanic Society, the Sorolla murals have been rehung in the room now called the Sala Bancaja. And it's never a problem to visit the collection of Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, and others.

I didn't have a guidebook with me but realized that the Morris-Jumel Mansion wasn't far away. I was too far South and missed it but did visit the hole where the Alexander Hamilton house used to be, crowded between a church and an apartment building just North of City College of New York. It's hard to believe that the house fit in the space, the hole doesn't look near big enough.

They picked the house up and moved it around the corner. It isn't open again yet but the setting is certainly more gracious and spacious.

Since I was there at CCNY, I figured I'd go say hi to the librarian, Judy Connorton, and see the new space. The architecture library has way more space, as does the school. Part of the library is double-height with stacks mostly on a mezzanine over the offices. The roof is open for visiting and there is a funky yellow amphitheater which also serves as the sunshield for the skylight over the central atrium. The end-of-year projects were up on the walls so there were some fun projects to look at. There were also some models of buildings by Palladio, Neutra, and others.

On to the Studio Museum which is showing highlights from its collection. Lots of good stuff. They have a print version of the Lorna Simpson video "15 mouths" which I first saw at Sean Kelly Gallery a few days after 9/11. The video is a grid of mouths quietly humming. It was mesmerizing and soothing in the days just after the World Trade Center attacks. The print version is quieter, just still prints of the mouths with a CD of the humming barely audible.

Supper was at Chennai Garden on East 27th Street, with John Maier, Elizabeth Lilker, and Dan Lipcan. We shared three of the combination platters and barely made it through them. The food was incredibly tasty. John and I walked down to Union Square and I figured I might as well as well veer off to the Strand and St. Mark's bookshops before leaving the neighborhood. I did find Building the medieval world at the Strand. It wasn't the fabulous study of architecture in medieval manuscripts that I'd hoped for, more of a general picture book with mediocre illustrations. Nonetheless, I figured that I'd just regret it if I didn't buy it ... and the price was down from retail.

Thinking about buying books obsessively, I am thrilled that I'll get to meet my closest LibraryThing parallel on Saturday. Paul Ranogajec is a grad student at the CUNY Grad Center and a friend of Roberto Ferrari's. We're getting together for brunch on Saturday. We get to talk books, books, books until the cows come home or we decide to go to the panel on queer zines, 3 pm at the Museum of Art and Design.