Friday, June 1, 2012

Barnes Foundation Museum

When I arrived in Philadelphia, I had no idea that a new museum, the Barnes Foundation, had opened less than two weeks ago in the city. I was paging through the tourist magazine and saw that advance tickets were required. Luckily, I was able to get a slot at 7:30 p.m. on June 1.

Albert Barnes created the Barnes Foundation in 1922 to promote the appreciation of fine art. One gallery in the museum included his correspondence, much of it around the acquisition of pieces through his overseas agents. It was fascinating to see the negotiations, especially when they went awry, as in one case when a dealer did not want to extend Barnes credit. I decided I liked him immensely when I saw his devotion to his dog, Fidéle, who would occasionally sign letters, complete with his pawprint.

Fidéle's gorgeous wooden bed was on display, along with many photographs of Barnes, his wife, and the pup.

The collection itself is amazing. Unlike most museums which are organized around historical period, the pieces in the Barnes foundation are grouped according to formal design element. A certain line may be reflected in a modern painting and an ancient African mask as well as a hinge or doorstop. It's a very different and fascinating approach. Additionally, the collection features more Modigliani than I've ever seen before in one place, along with many Picasso and Renoir. This is a museum I'd like to return to soon. If you are in Philadelphia, I encourage you to visit the collection.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


alumni event

Last night, I went to a local happy hour alumni event. Only three of us who graduated before ~2005 attended, one of those having graduated in 1975 and who left before I even arrived. (Another set of three - only three women.) Most of the people were affiliated with Cornell in some fashion, so I felt doubly (or thrice) stigmatized.

I am never at my element at these events, and I put my foot in my mouth at least twice. Even though it was patently untrue, I felt like I'd met many of the people before. One person reminded me of a hybrid of Allison plus a student, Jeff, I once taught. Another reminded me of an older Jesse, another former student. The woman who organized the event looked just like Dana (a UC alumna I met when living in Salt Lake City) but had a personality just like Jen. It all felt very surreal.

We are having lots of alumni events around the area to create more of a sense of identification with the school (which I'm sure helps with donations), so I wondered if the happy hour originated in the school's alumni office. Instead, it was something that one of the UC alumns in the area wanted to do. As much as I love the UC experience now (and cannot imagine having gone to school anywhere else), it took me several years to appreciate the experience. I'm not sure if I would have wanted to connect with alumni (besides my dearest friends) the first five years after I graduated.

While I was at UC, we were famously dead last on the survey of "Funnest Schools." One entrepreneurial student made t-shirts, and during our time, the phrase, "the place where fun came to die" was oft used. I remember during one prospective students' weekend, someone had nailed a sign "DON'T COME HERE" to a tree in the quads, and a friend one told me the campus tour guides were trained what to do if they were heckled by disgruntled students since it happened so frequently. After that period, the school gave much more attention to the undergraduate experience, and the folks I met at happy hour were the beneficiaries of the initiatives. At times, our shared sense of misery and beleaguerment enhanced our cohesiveness.

Not to say we never had fun. Here's one of the good times! The quads were full of people during the 1994 solar eclipse. Jo and I made viewers out of pop-tart wrappers. Such a lovely day outside, with a feeling of community and purpose.

Aimee - 1994 Solar Eclipse

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Walk for Farm Animals Spokesperson

George and I have been watching Game of Thrones and love Lord Tyrion, so I was happy to see that Peter Dinklage is this year's Walk for Farm Animals spokesperson!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Seitan Sandwich

seitan sandwich

Lunch and "power hour" of work with Elizabeth at Collegetown Bagels. Seitan sandwich. Nom. Nom. Nom.
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