WAACNewsletter
Volume 17, Number 2 .... May 1995

President's Letter

Pauline Mohr

The sun is out! The crystalline air is exquisitely transparent and breezy. Everything has that after-storm freshness that is unfortunately short-lived in an urban environment. After weeks of pounding rain, hail and gusty winds, it had become "a boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted." (Moby Dick). I can now look out at the skyline and assure myself that, yes, that is the Transamerica Pyramid and not the Space Needle. A variation of "Gee, this isn't Kansas anymore" was edging its way into the temperament.

This glorious air is like that of the mountains that awaits those who will attend the annual meeting September 9-12 at the Montecito-Sequoia Lodge in Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks. On March 17th the WAAC Board held its semi-annual meeting in the new conservation lab of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, truly a marvelous new home for art in our city. As is usual with this spring meeting, much time was spent discussing the upcoming annual meeting plans.

To set a welcoming tone, the first night's meal on Saturday night will be a special barbecue supplanting the usual banquet. The mood will be relaxed and festive. Remember, it's our twentieth year celebration. (I keep vacillating between "birthday" and "anniversary". In either case, we have something to commemorate.) Square dancing, with a locally-hired caller will follow. Anyone not desirous of this activity can sink into a couch by the fireplace, partake of the bartender's offerings, challenge a friend to chess, head for the spa (ten persons only) or some combination thereof. If you must have TV or music you'll have to supply your own portables and headphones. You can always finally read that book you've been meaning to get to. If a speaker can be summoned up to reminisce on the early days of WAAC and its formation, that presentation will occur during or shortly after dessert, hopefully incorporating some visual memories. Unfortunately, a number of the founders can only return in spirit, as death has claimed at least a handful of these colleagues. Some of those who worked with these individuals have been tapped for this speaker's slot.

Carrying forth the twenty-year theme into the professional talks, I've solicited the assistance of several experienced members to participate on a panel whose theme is essentially to summarize the work undertaken during these years; whether its focus is the same or different; what materials were in use and why; how problem solving incorporates the professional growth of the conservation field, etc. To date a number of conservators have agreed to address their individual specialties: Thornton Rockwell, paintings; Victoria Blyth-Hill, paper; Elisabeth Cornu, objects; Mark Harpainter, furniture; and Mike Wolf, pest management. Other conservators are still "considering" books and textiles. I have yet to pursue the scientific research area. After all the speakers have presented their areas of expertise there will be an open discussion time with the audience. Certain disciplines didn't really exist as strong organized forces in 1975, e.g. ethnographic materials or photographs. The generalist was more common than the specialist. This session will commence mid-morning on Sunday and continue through the afternoon.

Because of the natural setting of the Lodge and the high proportion of daytime activities to nighttime ones, this meeting will be organized similarly to that held at Yosemite, with a longer lunch break and an early dinner followed by a few evening talks. Monday afternoon will be set aside to tour the marble Crystal Cave. A separate fee of $4.00/adult and $2.00/child will be charged for this activity. Talks on Tuesday morning will conclude at lunch time and lunch will be the last meal served to us. This should permit the necessary travel time back to most destinations at a resonable hour of the day. If we have 80-100 people we'll have the Lodge to ourselves the entire time.

Please refer to the separate announcement in this Newsletter concerning the Board members delegated to collect and solicit talks in the various specialties. Registration information will be sent out separately in late June.

Note also the separate Call for Nominations sheet at the front of this issue and the deadline for posting this information to Neil Cockerline. Everything has to be done a little more quickly this year because of the early September meeting date.

Revamping the WAAC Resource File is an enormous task and discussion of the necessary methodology was particularly relevant to on-line members, Walter Henry and Chris Stavroudis, along with Jane Bassett. They will undoubtedly put out another call for assistance to the membership after the "vocabulary" kinks are smoothed out.

Not to be emulated, but like our real-life legislature, we also considered different term limits. It was strongly felt that a two-year Member-at-large term might be more meaningful and useful than the current one-year term. Additionally, it would probably be beneficial to stagger the three terms of these Board members. Both these steps would permit more possibilities for long-term projects and a continuity presently under-represented. Liz Welsh has volunteered to outline a revision of the Bylaws to allow these changes as well as any clarification or additions written in a gender-free style. Expect some discussion of this at Montecito-Sequoia.

Having received mixed reviews on the tone of my last "President's Letter" let me say that what follows may only appeal to some readers. Anyone only wanting hard news may want to stop here and proceed to the next column. Obviously, I've been treating this column as an editorial page. Just how much is there really to say about WAAC itself that you haven't already heard? (Think hard.) So I suppose this column says as much about me as about WAAC. Therefore. . .

Many good books accompanied me on my BART commute into San Francisco these past months and I'm tempted to expand on the Dewar's Profile "latest book read" category to make it more inclusive. However, my latest book was Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, depicting the Greek island of Cephallonia under occupation by both the Italians and the Germans in World War II. This is a very spellbinding anti-war story that takes the reader into the lives of the inhabitants and invaders and some of the historical figures responsible. The few chapters on Il Duce are almost frightening. The benevolence and friendships that both flourish and are compromised as a result of such a disruption are beautifully told in both a first and third-person style. Four stars for this one. An equally good classic that held up extremely well to re-reading was The Scarlet Letter. ( As a friend said, recalling forced reading in high school, "It's amazing just how good some of those books were!") The narrow-mindedness of Hester Prynne's world is conveyed in a very exciting manner by Hawthorne. Roger Chillingworth is truly a living version of the devil. For non-fiction readers there is Peggy Orrenstein's School Girls to send a chilling message about the hidden curriculum in our education system, an essay on girls' self esteem as revealed in interviews with eighth grade girls in two schools, one urban and one suburban. For either your reference shelf or humor section please see Saints Preserve Us! co-authored by Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers. In case you didn't know, St. Jude stands ready to assist in Hopeless Cases. There must be solace for some of those tough conservation jobs!

I hope to see as many of you as possible at Montecito-Sequoia.

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