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Too Many Tools…


I see that I haven’t written a thing yet in 2017.  Woke up today with the thought “I’ve got too many tools in my life.”  Okay not hand tools of the sort pictured in that public domain stock photo above, but too many tools of other sorts.   First world problem, I know. Let’s begin.

At 56, according to some sources, I’m beyond the age to gladly welcome new tools–even if they are labor-saving, into my life.  While that’s not quite true there are a surfeit of tools in my life right now.

A company for whom I do some part-time project management work has me using Trello for client management, SmartSheet for implementation management, ZenDesk for post-implementation customer support, JIRA for support on the development end,  Confluence to store customer documentation, and LucidChart for…well..charts.   For another project, for another company, we use Basecamp & Slack.

Various institutions of higher education have me using Blackboard, Google Docs, Scaler, Wireframe, and Omeka.  Coming this fall–yet another system yet to be determined.  For blogging and social media, I use WordPress and Medium, and of course Twitter, facebook, and Instagram.

Personally I’ve got this cocktail of apps designed to make me better, stronger, sleeker, faster, and smarter.  These include:  Fitbit, Running, Lose It! ,  Headspace, and Duolingo.

To accommodate all the tools above that are necessary though multiplicitous, I’m going to spend the second half of 2017 separating myself from some of the other tools that negatively impact my professional life.




Dress for the Job You Want!

Version 2

Once a year a friend and colleague (you know who you are) gives my 2nd year graduate students some tough love advice on the topic of their cvs/resumes.  Today was the day.  My two lovely students gathered in my tiny office to Skype with Nik and hear the results of a resume review by a senior museum professional with oodles (that’s right oodles) of resume review experience.


Thus when the he arrived on the video screen I was unsurprised to see him dressed to the nines, crisp dress shirt, power tie, vest, and beard and mustache impeccably trimmed. I on the other hand–because today is a writing day for me out at the University Farm–was dressed in jeans and a not as crisp white blouse.  It is also highly likely that my blouse already had tell-tale coffee stains.  Sigh.


At one point Nik reminded one of the students to dress for the job she wants to have, not the one she has now.  Since the first day of graduate school in 1984 my routine has been pantyhose, pumps, suit or dress, and pearls. Okay the suits are more drape-y now than they used to be, often involving slacks instead of skirts–imagine the 1970s television series Maude but with less polyester and feathers–and the pumps are now flats, but that has always been the institutional outfit.


Nik’s words occasioned one of those rare moments of personal and professional clarity–this morning, dressed casually to go out and spend the afternoon writing at the farm, I am dressed for the job I want to have.   Gotta go write.

“When one door closes…”

The famous maxim “When one door closes another opens” is generally inscribed to inventor Alexander Graham Bell.  Today’s reflection upon the Bell quote is due to the fact that I’m partway through one door and looking down the hall towards another set of doorways in my career passageway.   Or, as I like to think of it, here I go again heading from one desk to another.


My life has lots of doors and lots of desks.   I like desks.  I have five in my home–one in the kitchen that is used primarily for working with recipes from cookbooks and torn from magazines, and as a staging the events of the day.  I have two desks in the sunroom; one is for bills and busy work and the other for organization of projects and papers related to my consulting practice. The desk in the bedroom is used primarily for grading, and the one in the guest bedroom for writing fiction.


In terms of offices provided to me by others I have my own shelf at Ingall’s Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art, in the sunny, lovely reading room for art history research.  An office on campus at CWRU for meeting with students and grading.  And my favorite, a lovely writing office out at CWRU’s Valley Ridge Farm in a converted stable for writing non-fiction.


The paragraph below comes from a letter of recommendation written for me by a colleague.  And although I did not get that particular grant, today I am going to OWN his compliments:


She’s been a curator (at the San Diego Museum of Art), she’s been a teacher, she’s been a media consultant and pioneer in new media applications–she has a range of skills that one seldom finds in a single person, she’s adept at adjusting to new situations, and she combines “the old art history” with new modes of art history and scholarly inquiry in an impressive way.


I haven’t decided which desk I’ll be starting with on November 1 but I’m looking forward to opening a few doors and adjusting to some new situations.


Quattrocentrist here! Very excited to be named as one of the 4th class of Community Representatives for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).  My goal is to spread the word about DPLA to Cleveland’s wide array of cultural organizations that combine library, archive, and museum services and foster inter-institutional collaborations.

One reason why I wanted to be associated with the DPLA is I haven’t felt so excited about the potential for serendipitous discovery since the physical slide library disappeared from the Ingalls library at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  More to come about Ingalls in further posts because it is one of the best run and managed art research libraries in the United States….but wait…I was talking about serendipity.

I love the DPLA because I consistently run across items and connections that make my mitochondrial DNA sing for joy at our interconnected world.  So what I’ve been doing recently is simply exploring the (to me) untapped resources of the DPLA and thought I might use this blog to occasionally share my discoveries with you in the hopes that you will venture into the DPLA and make connections  yourself (and maybe share them with me).  Try it!

Today’s discovery is Henry Lovejoy Ambler’s 1911 History of Dentistry in Cleveland, Ohio.  Ambler’s book entered the DPLA via the Open Knowledge Commons from the Columbia University Libraries.  And lo and behold, because everything comes full circle, I just typed in Henry Lovejoy Ambler’s name in the Cleveland History Center of the WRHS  and discovered that resting comfortably in a box, two floors above my office is the original manuscript for the History of Dentistry as well as his manuscript for Facts, fads and fancies about teeth (Cleveland: The Helman-Taylor Company, 1899).   I’ve got a dentist appointment this Thursday and I can’t wait to share today’s adventure with my dentist Dr. Jason Schermer.  DPLA I love you!


The Tiger and Lion May Be More Powerful…

…but the wolf does not perform in the circus.

In 3 hours (EST) I will be closer to 60 than 50 and so, predictably, trite aphorisms like the headline for this post seem to resonate.  My patience for meetings, office politics, and short-sighted non-fixes for endemic issues in museums and academe is at an all time low.  As a part-time museum employee and adjunct faculty at two research universities I have no credible standing in either world.  Full-time employment is the measure of worth in the museum world and tenure in the Ivory Tower, my own sense of professional worth is these days measured in friends made, experiences accumulated, words written, and mentoring opportunities.  It’s snowy and cold outside.  The future is mine to make what I will of it.  And so tonight I howl.

Transition & Paralysis

photoThe Bookshelf Above My Desk at Home

In just a few short days I will officially transition from spending most of my time thinking about museum studies to spending most of my time thinking about 19th Century philanthropy.  I’ve been planning this leap on and off for more than three years and now that it is here terrified.  My bookshelf is full of interesting titles:  Mark Twain’s “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” Tyler’s oldie but goodie “Freedom’s Ferment,” a book of articles edited b Lawrence Friedman and Mark D. McGarvie “Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in the United States,”  John Malcom Brinnin’s fun “The Sway of the Grand Saloon: A Social History of the North Atlantic.”

I should be so excited but I’m only beginning to know what I don’t know and the result is books that end up looking like this one with notes and comments on every page.


So today I am sitting in my office at home paralyzed, unable to make a decision about what to do next.  What am I going to do: read, cry, answer emails, plan, shop, bake cookies, straighten the house (only as a last resort, don’t worry), or blog?   Blog it is.

A few photographs, a short blog and it’s all good.  One step in front of the other, one bite of the elephant at a time, I will move forward in looking backward.   Channeling my inner Yoda, “Lucky am I to do something I love.”   Wishing you all the same.


San Diego Museum of Art’s “Portrait of a Man” – Off My Plate

Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco), "Portrait of a Man, " Oil on panel, 1506, 11 7/8 x 10 1/8 in.  Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, The San Diego Museum of Art, 1941.100 (

Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco), “Portrait of a Man, ” Oil on panel, 1506, 11 7/8 x 10 1/8 in. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam, The San Diego Museum of Art, 1941.100 (


This portrait has haunted/dogged me for 23 almost 24 years.  I began researching this as a young curator and now as a seasoned (salt, pepper, and lots of butter) museum professional I have finally published my thoughts on a knotty problem.  You can read my thoughts in an article with the unwieldy title coming up) “Unvarnished Reflections: Giorgione’s Portrait of a Man (Terris Portrait) in the San Diego Museum of Art, the Quest for Cultural Authority, and the Ethics of Authenticity in American Museums.”  Said article appears in a new volume “Renaissance Studies: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski.” (Edited by Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford, and Dena M. Woodall. 

Don’t think this will ever be a bestseller but at least I am finally in print and on the record.  Yay.