News and Notes

ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA--NORTH ALABAMA SOCIETY

banner image: Moundville, Alabama

5.5.09

AIA Gala



On their big adventure in the Big Apple, Lillian and Stephen attended the first AIA Gala. The event celebrated the 130th anniversary of the founding of the AIA and the 60th anniversary of Archaeology Magazine . The gala had an auction to raise funds for the AIA, selling donated luxury items and archaelogical excursions. The site was Capitale, an elegant party and event center; it was the former Bowery Savings Bank, a glorious masterpiece by architect Stanford White modeled on a Romanesque church and decorated with Art Deco ornaments. Approximately 450 people attended. Lillian renewed her acquaintance with a clothing designer and Stephen chatted with her fiance who is the chief economist for the United Nations. She bought a glass bowl from Turkey at the silent auction. Stephen worried that the cocktail party was a bit over the top.

The meal was a Maya Feast, concocted by Maya experts and a chef from Belize. The delicacies included a first course of roasted duck with corn cake, sweet potatoes, and tomatillo salsa (the Maya believed the gods created people from corn). The main course was roasted feral pork with jicama, yucca, and calabasa (the stars that form Orion's belt the Maya saw as copulating peccaries). The dessert was fried plantains and a trio of sorbets--coconut, pumpkin, and avocado--with a topping of liquid chocolate with serrano chili powder (the sacred drink of the Maya gods). Delicious!

Despite being honored by the AIA, Harrison Ford did not show for the event. Even so, Lil and Steph had fun. At the banquet, their table had vivacious people. For neighbors they had two members of the AIA governing board, a senior editor of Archaeology Magazine, the auctioneer from Christie's, and a conservator of Asian art from the Met. They sat next to Josh Bernstein, author, adventurer, and the host of the Discovery Channel's "Into the Unknown," and of the History Channel's "Digging for the Truth." The "afterparty" had Godiva chocolate, Guatemalan rum, Israeli wine, Dogfish Head beer, and Arturo O'Farrill & the Grammy-winning Chico Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra.

The event attracted considerable media attention (almost 40 press credentials) and raised lots of money for archaeological ventures, including site preservation and student scholarships. Viva AIA! Viva Archaeology!

Big AIA Adventure in the Big Apple

Lillian attended the AIA spring governing board meeting in New York City 26 April to 30 April 2009. Stephen begged and begged and she let him tag along. While Lillian attended meetings, Stephen and another "trailing husband" took the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island (from 1892 to 1924 the major port of entry to the United States of immigrants from the Old World). The next days Lillian and Stephen walked the city and visited the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lillian pointed out representative works she could use, and Stephen obediently took photographs. She especially wanted images for her scholarship on Greek and Roman women and for her class on Non-Western art. They also took a special guided tour of the marvelous exhibit "Worshiping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens" at the Onassis Cultural Center. On another afternoon, Jo Anne Van Tilburg, who a few years ago gave a lecture in Huntsville, described the AIA's project to preserve Easter Island’s Rapa Nui Moai statues. The AIA truly rocks.

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