Wednesday, January 18, 2012 was Cornell University Recognition Day, and somehow the donation of my archives to the Kroch Library of Rare Manuscripts and Archives and of our wall sculpture, Epilogue 19, to the new Human Ecology Building on Campus entitled Jerry and me to be treated by President Skorton to one of the most memorable days of my life.
Along with daughter Cathy Musick, we arrived in New York City on a blustery but sparkling January morning where we attended the first recognition event, a luncheon at the historic University Club on 54th Street. What an amazing building. One enters a large atrium space, with a huge fireplace, marble floors and columns support a three story ceiling. The fourth floor library is a marvel. Mural painted walls and ceilings cradle old books, a huge antique leather globe and ancient furniture.Everywhere the walls housed early American art (and I thought of Crystal Bridges Museum.)
Luncheon, hosted by Librarian Anne Kenney was a delicious affair where I spent the time gazing out the picture framed window at the most wonderful bare tree backdropped by a typical grey stone New York facade. Very Zen. Our luncheon partner turned out to be married to a literary agent. Now I consider this one of my “ordained occasions” as half my days, these days, are spent trying to connect with one of this rare breed in hopes of finding an advocate for publishing my book, The Piero Affair: with side trips. He graciously gave us her card and a reference. Following lunch we listened to a discussion of the value and use of social media, where I learned a lot about the mysteries of Facebook and Linked In.
Our afternoon was spent at the Frick Museum on a mission: to gaze at three paintings by Piero della Francesca which I had never seen before except in the images sent to me by the curator, Isabel Silva. These feature
prominently in the last chapter of the book. Imagine my horror to find an old metal plate at the bottom of two of them stating they came from Piero’s “workshop”! Isabel not being in, a very kind young curator came downstairs to relieve me by saying that the attribution is indisputably Piero, and that they had not yet removed the plates from the frames. Well, crisis averted, we went back to the master’s work so I could gaze in peace at his haunting eyes.
With Jerry’s intrepid Italian driving through New York traffic we arrived at the site of the evening’s event, the Museum of Natural History. What an evening!
Cocktails were in the Hayden Planetarium where we were all three treated to some wonderful exhibits of moon photography, meteorites and laser displays of colliding galaxies. We found good friends, Marybeth Tarzian and Dean Alan Mathios from Human Ecology and we all indulged in an amazing array of delicious canapes…my favorite was falafel and carrot sauce! After a long walk through the building we arrived at the Hall of Oceans, the site of dinner and entered the room where a glance upward revealed a ceiling full of blue whale.
A sculpture of the world’s longest mammal, one hundred life size feet in length swished through the air as though it were water. A collection of huge video screens located all around the perimeter of the room at ceiling height, entertained throughout the evening with images of the oceans finest. The tables were beautifully centerpieced with Cornell red and white flowers and dinner was scrumptious. We listened to President Skorton thank the more that three hundred people there for their generosity to Cornell and heard him describe the new campus Cornell would build on Roosevelt Island that will change the picture of our economy and lives in future times.
I sat and marveled that I was there, in that incredible space that placed me in the continuum of evolutionary time and in a moment of wonder and beauty. How fortunate I am! It was so awesome to share it with my husband and daughter. As we closed with the alma mater tribute to “high above Cayuga’s waters”, I gave thanks for the day we arrived at Cornell and thought about how my ten years there had altered the next forty five years of my life.
Truly, an amazing Cornell Great Day.