RWA in New York

Victoria here, with my report on the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City, June 29 to July 1, 2011, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square.  I attended soon after returning from my European adventures so I was definitely in the early-to-bed group and probably missed half the excitement. Below, the statue of George M. Cohan, one of the fathers of the Broadway musical.

Before the official start of the conference, my roommate and travel buddy, Judith Laik, and I took in the Frick Museum at 90th and Fifth Avenue.

Their pretty gardens were full of scaffolding, sad to say. But a few roses clung to the fence on Fifth.

This building was the residence of the Henry Clay Frick (1849 -1919) family from its completion in 1912 to the point at which it was turned into a museum for his collection of old masters. Some additional construction was needed but part of the very nice atmosphere there is the feeling that you’re in a home – just like your very own nest, of course.  Don’t we all have Vermeers, Gainsboroughs and Rembrandts on our walls and priceless ceramics on precious antique tables? 
One must acknowledge that Frick was a notorious robber baron, but that makes his little gem in Manhattan no less delightful to visit.
After the opening luncheon, I moderated a workshop given by Jennifer Kloester (left) and Sabrina Jeffries entitled “Keeping it Real: Regency Research Georgette Heyer Could Believe In.” Jennifer is the author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and has a biography of GH coming out soon.   Sabrina has written more than two dozen novels, most set in the late Georgian period.

After an afternoon of meetings, we went out to catch a breath of fresh (?) air, and saw the rays of the lowering sun gild the Chrysler Building a few blocks away.

Sunset over the Hudson River from our room on the 22nd floor.

I managed to fit in a quick trip to the New York Public Library where I never fail to find an engaging snippet of knowledge in a brief visit.  Sometime I’ll spend an entire day there.  How about a month?

The noble beasts always get my respect.  Are they the guardians of all knowledge – or symbolic of the majesty of the contents behind them?  In case it looks like I spent most of my time flitting about the city, let it be known that I worked two full mornings as a volunteer at the editor-agent appointments desk, attended several workshops and PAN (Published Author Network) sessions and many other activities. And I spent a bundle on taxis.

Before the RITA ceremonies on Friday night, Judith and I browsed through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We could hardly do more than scratch the surface, but it was wonderful.

We found the British period rooms temporarily closed off, to our disappointment. As devotees of the Regency, we had looked forward to visiting a little bit of London in NYC. But in the American Wing, we found the colonial and federal period rooms almost as useful for our research.

For example, this sideboard was made in New York City about 1812 by French emigre cabinet maker
Charles Honore Lannuier (1779-1819) of flame-grain mahogany veneers. Shown on top are decanters, flutes, and wineglasses, most of them made in Pennsylvania and New York.

This table was made in Philadelphia, c. 1830, of mahogany, marble and brass by another French emigre, Anthony Quervelle (1789-1856). He also made tables for the East Room of the White House. The side chairs are attributed to the Baltimore workshop of John and Hugh Findlay, c. 1815-25.

Elsewhere in the Met, we stumbled upon Napoleon, in the form of a tapestry in wool, silk and metal thread, in its original pine frame. It is based on a 1805 portrait by Francois Gerard (1770-1837) of the emperor in his coronation robes. Woven in the workshop of Michel Henri Cozette (1744-1822) in the Gobelins Manufactory, 1808-11.

At last we found the British paintings — works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Raeburn, Hoppner, Lawrence, and many more of our favorites.  Below, three examples.

John Hoppner (1758-1810): Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Her Son
Thomas Gainsborough (1728-1788): Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792): Captain George  K. H. Coussmaker
Judith and I hustled back to the hotel for the awards ceremony which presented Ritas for published novels and Golden Hearts for unpublished manuscripts, sort of the Oscars for romance writers.

  The hustle and bustle was over for another year.  Several thousand women — and some men too — had a lot of sleep to catch up on.

2 thoughts on “RWA in New York”

  1. What a wonderful way of spending time in NYC!
    I can recall the Metropolitan Museum of Art most fondly. In it, I felt swallowed whole by the art world.
    What a pity you were unable to gain entrance to the one are which you most prized for its import to your research! All those lovely things, locked away from view–so close, and yet so far!

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