Volume 17, Number 1, Jan 1995, p.1

President's Letter

by Pauline Mohr

Having introduced some of the speakers at the September Asilomar meeting with an abbreviated Dewar's Profile "latest book read" clause--no ages revealed--let me commence with my latest book read: Howard Norman's The Bird Artist. This is a superb book full of engaging characters living in Witless Bay, Newfoundland (a real place), the central figure being a young man perfecting his drawing skills through diligence and correspondence with an established bird artist. Norman's spare but insightful style captures a fulness of meaning that penetrates like a northern gust through a thin coat. Although only out in hardcover at the time of this writing its size is compact enough to easily fit inside a Studies in Conservation publication should you feel reluctant to display any extracurricular reading interests in the workplace lunchroom. Your occasional smile may baffle your colleagues as their serious countenances push their way through yet another graph of the chemical composition of recently excavated pot shards. Should you work with devotees of Recent Setbacks in Conservation, now out in volume 4, it is you who will probably be puzzled by the hilarity of your colleagues faces. If you get confused in the bookstore and buy The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx instead, another "must" also set in Newfoundland, don't worry. You will find yourself very pleased with even quirkier characters and a lot of descriptions of bitter northern weather that will leave you thankful to be where you are.

Let me retrace our steps back to the last WAAC meeting held September 25-27, 1994 at the Asilomar Conference Center. The range of conservation interests presented was remarkable. Thanks are due to all of the speakers and the organizational skills of Lesley Bone, past president, and Mary Hough, secretary/treasurer and Chris Stavroudis, membership secretary, and the WAAC board. Vinod Daniel and Mark Gilberg's workshop "Non-Toxic Methods of Pest Control" was an informal but very worthwhile contribution to the membership. As diverse as the talks was the selection of excellent foods at the outdoor banquet following a glorious sunset.

A publication that deserves acclaim was presented by Patricia Leavengood. This is a compilation of the talks comprising the "Loss Compensation" panel from our 1993 meeting at the Marconi Conference Center. Patricia has supplied a detailed introduction into the history of loss compensation theory in addition to editing the papers. Copies are available from: Patricia Leavengood, Art Conservation Services, 215 2nd Avenue So. M-1, Seattle, WA 98104, FAX 206/382-1218. Cost is $10 per copy plus $2.50 for postage and handling ($.50 per additional copy).

Election results were: Neil Cockerline, vice-president, and Jane Bassett, Walter Henry and Elizabeth C. Welsh, members-at-large. With a new year and a new board of officers comes a new meeting site. Our 1995 meeting is set for September 9-12 at the Montecito-Sequoia Lodge, a privately run inn between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks in south-central California's Great Western Divide. This is the first weekend after Labor Day, a bit earlier in the year than we usually meet, which permits a number of concerns to be met positively. At an elevation of 7,500 feet in the forest weather will be more accommodating, the outdoor heated pool and spa will still be operational, the park's Chrystal Cave will be open for a tour, and there is no conflict with Jewish holidays.

Through perusal of past WAAC files it was realized that 1995 represents the 20th year of our existence. Therefore, the focus of this meeting, in addition to a celebratory one, could appropriately be one of reflection on the past. Twenty years have seen many changes in the composition of the organization itself. Records indicate only 18 people attended the first meeting on January 25, 1975!

And certainly the philosophical and practical techniques utilized in our field show permutations in thought that are interesting to follow. What we could conceivably do is concentrate upon these matters, talking as much about old treatments as new ones, contrasting the approaches and materials that were employed. Old treatments and photographic records, even if faded, would be very fascinating to present. As with any work executed today no one need be made to feel that he or she erred in judgment. As parameters change so do we, and we've witnessed approaches and materials once "state-of-the-art" give way to alternatives. For both older and newer professionals a walk down this historic lane could be illuminating, thought provoking, gratifying, humbling and possibly even humorous. Within this mountainous setting, near groves of 2,000 year old trees, reflection seems more than appropriate. I hope many of you will feel intrigued enough to attend and contribute to this focus on past and present, searching through old tangible records as well as your own thought processes.

The Montecito-Sequoia Lodge, though not swanky, boasts two large meeting rooms with fireplaces, one of which contains the 24-hour hospitality bar with beverages and snacks including non-dairy ice cream for any midnight refrigerator raiders. The other room opens up onto a large L-shaped sun deck that is ideal for shmoozing amidst the scenery. This is a very casual place. The modest grounds offer, besides swimming, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball, ping-pong, tennis, and canoeing on the lodge's small lake. (Think of boating in a circle.) There is a firepit for evening gatherings. And, of course, the beauty of the mountains, caves and trees that comprise these two national forests is ever present. At least you can walk if the other amusements are not to your liking.

Indoors a cupboard full of board games provides the opportunity to watch a colleague squirm as he or she lands on your hotel-studded Boardwalk, unable to pay the rent. For an extra fee we can request square dancing (participation not mandatory!) or "casino night". Maybe we can hone some skills before Neil hauls us off to Las Vegas in 1996! The kitchen provides very good food and tailored arrangements are also available. My husband and I were fortunate to spend one night when a group had selected a sumptuous barbeque of extensive choices, permitting us to feast very well. A cash bar offers beer, wine and liquor in the evenings. All of this for $69 per person per night double occupancy, food and recreational facilities included.

A different twist to our meeting site will certainly emerge as Neil explores the Las Vegas offerings. He intends to make two visits there these next several months (for family reasons he says) and will no doubt have some news regarding our 1996 meeting well in advance. One subject Neil addressed at the Asilomar meeting was that of board membership. The board is not a secret society. Anybody can offer to serve, and this past election was a real tribute to the number of people desirous of taking part. The job of vice-president is a two-year commitment, in that the first year as vice is succeeded automatically by one year as president. Having been allowed to choose the next meeting site as vice, he or she then does the major planning of that meeting during the presidency. The three board members-at-large attend two annual meetings and one board meeting mid-year, the latter paid for by WAAC, and assist the officers with overall WAAC business and annual meeting plans. During their year each is also requested to provide one lead article for the Newsletter. The article does not have to be authored by the member; it may be some idea that should be pursued or obtained from another source. This is intended to assist Carolyn Tallent, Newsletter editor, and guarantee a greater group effort. Election ballots generally are mailed in summer so springtime with its repeated promise of renewal and energy is a good time to make your wishes to serve known, either to Neil directly or to any board member. As vice-president Neil heads the nominating committee that he selects to solicit willing members.

In case you're curious (you may not be), my current book is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. More in May.

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