JASNA AGM Report, Day 1

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I should have blogged this last night but was too exhausted after leaving for the airport at 4:30 a.m.! But I know our Gentle Readers are eager for a report, and I found myself with a few minutes free and free wifi in the hotel lobby. (FTW!)

(and yes, I’m abandoning the editorial “we” for these posts.)

The AGM doesn’t really officially start until today, so yesterday was mostly extra events such as tours. I took the tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s house and studio, and a walking tour through his Oak Park, Illinois neighborhood. What does Frank Lloyd Wright have to do with Jane Austen, you may be asking, and the answer is nothing at all. The tours recognize that most of us are visiting the host city for the first time and want to enjoy the cultural experiences. As we drove up to the house, I thought, “That’s the neatest house I’ve ever seen.” If you like Prairie School/Arts & Crafts/Craftsman architecture, it’s really beautiful. The house has been restored to be as close as they can determine to how it was when the Wright family lived there. I especially liked the dining room and the children’s play room. I’ll try to get some of my photos uploaded later.

My friend (and AGM roommate) Lorna and I decided to search out Chicago deep-dish pizza but the waiting times at Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due were both too long, so we ended up eating spicy Chinese rice bowls at Water Tower Place. Yum!

We wanted to be sure we were in time for the “Curtain Raiser” event with Jeff Nigro of the Art Institute of Chicago, who spoke on “Visualizing Jane Austen and Jane Austen Visualizing.” He talked of our obsession (if you will) with knowing what Jane Austen looked like and our frustration with not really knowing, and also about visualizations, in illustrations and films, of her novels. It was interesting and thought-provoking, and we were delighted when he mentioned that the reason the Victorian prettied-up version of Cassandra’s drawing is used so often, even though many of us don’t like it, is because it is in the public domain. Cassandra’s sketch is not; it belongs to the National Portrait Gallery. Sometimes pragmatism must conquer!

Then there was a reception, at which we met friends old and new. And then I fell into bed exhausted and ready to start all over again in the morning!

I’ll try to post another report tonight and maybe some photos. In the meantime, I’ll be Twittering everything that happens!