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.

Expecting Toucans

It’s a jungle out there, 2021, Archival Digital Print

I continue to comment on the weather. It rules everything now. Our rains continue day after day and we have rarely had a clear sunny day since early June. Looking out the other morning, it was so lush and so hot and humid I expected to see apes swinging from trees and toucans hopping from branch to branch, a Hudson Valley Rousseau.

 

Tree with an Itch

Tree with an Itch, 2021, Archival Digital Print

The Eastern Catalpa has frequent itching which Nicky helps treat. Now Nicky came to me three years ago, a stray who must have been left because she is spayed. About the same time another starving Maine Coon Cat — whom I also named Nicky aka Nicodemus because I thought they were both male — and because I had only glanced at both of them on separate occasions out of the corner of my eye and I thought they were the same cat. Slowly over the months this Nicky got closer. Today she is almost tame.  No touching though.  But, the other Nicky, the Maine Coon, now named Demus, remains very wary. Both have been fattened and are fed outside twice a day. One wonders at the callous treatment of these sensitive beings and also my good luck that they live with me on the land.  .

 

Violets and Everything

Spring Morning, 2021, Archival Digital Print

At last! Spring! We earned it this year enduring a mean winter that even now is hanging on with its icy claws. Sleet/snow last Friday, can you imagine?

Everything is in bloom and I feel so grateful to have been guided up here to the Hudson Valley.  The land has taught me. I’ve become more sensitive to the quiet and the subtle changes in light and color, the goings on of wildlife and plants.

But more than that, I have had time to reflect more deeply on what painting and drawing demand.  It is remarkable what a simple piece of vine charcoal can do.  Even a pencil.  All the world of images ready to come out and be seen stored inside, it just waits for some talent to pick it up and begin.

 

 

Right before the Snow Starts

Right before the Snow Starts, Archival Digital Print with Hand Coloring, 2021

That time when the clouds are full and the air smells of it

Every living thing knows that something is

about to happen,

The colors seem so full of themselves

I rush to get back to the house

The flock fed and

watered

The house will feel

just right.

The Challenge of Wood

Flower in Vase, 2020, Woodblock on Rice Paper

During this unprecedented time of threat, we keep working in any way we can.   I find woodcut difficult so am keeping it simple.  It’s too bizarre a time to consciously address this pandemic in the studio.  That may come later when it filters down out of the subconscious, but for now, I just want each day to feel as if I didn’t waste it.

 

Always Drawing

Feeder with Icicles, 2020, Archival Digital Print

I repeat myself:  Drawing is the basis of it all.

The first impulse of the mind, it is where it begins.  That very first spark of an idea.  Not only does it show what one sees but it orders the experience.  This photograph taken this morning, doesn’t exist without my experience as an artist who draws.  I frame the image in the camera; it is rarely changed in the processing.  That is drawing. The division of space within the bounds of the edge.

 

My Marvelous Geese

Geese, Corn, 2019, Archival Digital Print

Here they are, my marvelous Geese, sharing some ears of fresh corn.  It is the last of the local corn, and along with the local tomatoes always a bittersweet time knowing we must wait a year until the next crop of deliciousness comes around.  Seasonal foods, however, make so much sense as we settle into Nature’s rhythm.

I continue to work on linocuts, cut and edit, proof and then move onto the next one.  During the winter I think I’ll start to edition them.  For now, though, I want to make as many new images as I can.

 

Debate Night I

Morning Magic, 2019, Archival Digital Print

What a strange experience to watch the Democratic Debates tonight and the flashy production of the set, more Jeopardy or a World Wide Wrestling match than the serious process of a debate for the highest office in our democracy.  We have become so accustomed to visual overload that few may have noticed.  It’s all part of our pinball-light-up-and-win world.

Here, though, I can bring a slow eye to what I see.  This photo, another fortuitous find, was shot in the hours of early light.