Archive | August, 2014

Maria and other German-speaking women of influence

14 Aug

News of the deaths of both Maria and Robert Steinberg only reached us this week:




I am so sad that I didn’t know about Maria’s passing last year when it happened.  She was my wonderful volunteer at the Rifkind from the time she was 82 until she was 86! She had such an interesting and historically significant life story, and I can’t find any but the briefest of obituaries for her.  I keep thinking that her story needs to be told, so I am going to try and tell as much of it as I know.

This decision also made me remember the other great women in my life whose stories have also never been told. I realized that there are at least two more of them and they are both from my German-speaking life:  Frau Irmgard Rexroth-Kern, a journalist and Wellesley graduate who I met while on my Fulbright in Darmstadt in 1973-74; and Fr. Dr. Anna von Spitzmüller, the wonderful art history teacher who taught us in Vienna on my Junior Year Abroad in 1969-70.  The stories of these three women serve as emotional mirrors to the amazing changes and tumultuous history of the 20th century.

I’m going to compile as much information as I can about each of these women who have made such an impact on my life. Their stories tell of the hardships, struggles, and victories of intellectual women in this era. I can’t guarantee that I will be comprehensive or even correct in what details I can recount, but I can present the impressions they made on me.

More to come!




6 Aug


When I first told my LACMA boss that I was planning to retire, I used the word almost sarcastically, since my position in the Rifkind Library had always been part-time, and I had never really considered it as an identifiable career option. But as the time grew nearer to my leaving and people heard that I was going, the implications of the word “retirement” made everyone start acting somber and using the word with special gravitas. “Retiring? What will you do?” “You can’t retire, you’re too young!” Those were the kind of things I heard, and so I started to realize that perhaps this was a life-changing decision, even though I just saw it as giving up a part-time job because I couldn’t stand the commute anymore.
I went out on a lovely bang: an exhibition of Expressionist printed matter (well, two exhibitions, if you count the little one in the Modern gallery), and just returned from a kind of farewell tour of Australia. And at the nice goodbye party that my colleagues gave me, I did realize that my time at LACMA had been worthwhile, that my presence had made some difference, and that (except for that pesky commute) I had really enjoyed being part of the place.
So now where to, what to do? I am trying to just relax and do nothing for a little while. But I’m sure I won’t be able to stand this idleness for very long. I am trying to work up a little business card and ad, to see if I can get some research projects to work on. And I’ll write some articles, review some books, try to do a little more exercise. This does feel very much like a new phase in my life. Now if we can just get George retired, too, AND figure out a way to have enough funds, then we’re still in good enough shape to start doing some fun things!