17 June 2010


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.

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