Remembering 9/11

Upside Down Downtown, 2001, Collage on rag

Twenty years ago, the night before what we now all call 9/11, I was having dinner with a friend from the gallery with her little black and white puppy, Tuxedo.  We ate in the kitchen at the back of my floor-through loft at 156 Chambers Street.  There were two ceiling-high windows that were filled with the North Tower a few blocks south.  One of the things that we discussed were the Artist Studios in the World Trade Center, a program developed for artists to have space to work and magnificent views over our beloved city.  My gallery had arranged for me to get one of those choice spaces and yet I kept putting off doing the finishing things needed to make it happen  In a dreamlike state, whenever I was asked about it I’d automatically mouth:  “Well…it will take care of itself….”  but for some reason I could never get myself to do that last thing I needed to do to make it happen, some paperwork I recall or maybe just a phone call.  It was like I went into a hypnotic disconnect whenever it was mentioned.  Yet it was a real opportunity, one I wanted.   My gallery friend, again, urged me as we were drinking red, eating pasta with tomato sauce as the North Tower smiled down on us.  She said to get on with it, that she had already spoken to the director of it who was waiting for me to complete whatever I hadn’t.  “It’s yours!” she emphasized, “Just do it!” “Well…it will take care of itself….” I blankly repeated.

 

It is things like that come back to me as we honor all who perished and who living were forever changed, hurt, and scarred.  The smallest incidents seem now to glow with meaning.  It may be the nature of tragedy that we seize on anything that gives us an explanation of our supreme connectedness.  My friend is now thriving in Texas, Tuxedo has already gone to God, as have all of my pets from then and here I am living out in the country in the Hudson Valley far removed from Tribeca and the reminders of those events.  That evening sitting with my dear friend, enjoying our meal, patting her sweet new puppy, and catching up on things, marks for me the last moment when things were normal.   I feel so lucky to have lived before that day and to have known life before Terror overtook us.

What of the general collapse?

Night Critter, 2021, Archival Digital Print

How harried and anxious this period has made us. Health worries, ourselves, our planet’s it all seems in a state of collapse.  How does a person move through this with grace and continued contribution?  The beauty of this night critter is a certainty.  I hold onto these certainties about beauty and form as my salvation.

 

Rain again

Waiting for the Rain to Stop, 2021, Archival Digital Print

I spent more time in the car waiting than I did caring for the flock.  The rain was in deluge mode for most of the day.  Like many artists I search for the unified field theory of what I see and feel as I work.  Why this not that?  Why here not there?  Why transmute it in this way and not that way?  An artist does nothing if not make thousands of decisions as she works.

 

The Coming Storm

Expecting Show, 2021,Archival Digital Print, 2021

Suffused with longing for spring and yet an almost gasping consciousness of the spare beauty of deep winter.

Ours is a long season, longer and more expanded by the pandemic and isolation.

Longer and more shocking as memories of the Insurrection vomit up

On the clean snow

As we wait for more.

 

 

 

 

Earth Day 2020, Planet of the Humans, and what’s wrong with us?

Perfection, 2020, Archival Digital Print

The new documentary is not for the fainthearted. Planet of the Humans is free on YouTube. See it at your own peril. You won’t get through it without being changed and sobered.  And very saddened. Don’t watch it alone.  You’ll need comfort after it’s over.

Now that I live on the land, I am more sensitive to the sacredness of the planet.  I expect if we continue our greedy consumption and yearning for more and more, we will just be killed off. Fairly quickly, too.  This may be only the first of more coming pandemics as we destroy swaths of forests and deserts and gobble up more and more for our energy needs.  In the big picture, humans just aren’t worth it.  We are too greedy, out of balance and let’s face it, too destructive.

 

 

 

So it’s Death

Hans Holbein, The Miser, The Dance of Death, Woodblock, 1523-5

Underneath all of our anxiety, our food and gun hoarding, is The Grim Reaper, his insistent trod, scythe in hand, plucking souls as he goes.  It’s what none of us say aloud: you or I could be next.  We have always known it was in our future, vague, general, but way, way out there in the future. Now our reckoning may be around the corner.  We aren’t worried about getting sick any more than we are about getting a cold.  We’re afraid we might die!  Dead.  Over. Gone.

One of my favorite little books I studied endlessly as an art student was Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, a series of woodblock prints.  It is a marvel of drawing and composition illustrating Death’s harvest at every level of the social order.  No one is exempt.

I was so inspired I started my own series, the studies are lost somewhere in a pile of old sketchbooks.  Then I forgot about it until now.  Like all art, Holbein’s work remains timeless, waiting for us when we’re ready and scared to death.

9/11 again

Untitled Proof, 2019, Linocut on Newsprint, 12″ x 12″

It’s 9/11 today and the scorched memories return as always a few weeks before until they are fully formed on the anniversary of that awful morning and its aftermath.  I have been working on a linocut series all year but this weekend decided to take a rest from it and do some other plates which were more severe and geometric.  This one was the first.  It pleased me.  This morning, though, it looks to me like a memory of that day and those maimed towers.