Tag Archives: New York City

15 Year Anniversary of 9/11

The black square in the 9/11 Memorial seemed to be bottomless. As I watched a documentary program this afternoon on the history channel about the events at the Twin Towers 15 years ago, tears came to my eyes. In this very room, watching the same TV in shock I struggled to take in the horror of the scene that day and its implications for them and for us.

We went elsewhere to fight. It was a given. Other countries were the sites of war, not the U.S. and Canada – especially not Canada. A loved one was in a hotel in Ottawa, having travelled from Vancouver there a few days before on business. My prayers went back and forth for her and for the victims and families of those struck by the attack – and for the firefighters and our leaders. Who knew if they would strike Canada next?

In June of 2014, in New York City on an art tour with the Ferry Building Gallery, I had seen the flowing water pour down that black square, into the very middle of the earth it seemed. I have never been so silent.

I almost did not make the effort to go there. I do not like to visit the sites of tragedies. An art history class about war memorials piqued my curiosity to see the sculpture in person. It was so big and so noisy with water rushing as if to cleanse and heal the land.

Today, as I watch the black square within the square, another tragic black square comes to mind. The “Black Square” 1913 of Russian artist Kasimir Malevich hung in an exhibition in a strange position in the room. It was in an upper corner near the ceiling. Gallery visitors at that time were well aware that this was where the holy icons of Jesus Christ were located in a Russian Orthodox home. One of the things this empty black icon came to mean was that God is dead.

The deep empty hole of a black square in NYC ‘s National 9/11 Memorial and the” Black Square” of Moscow’s First World War era, are they the same? Is God now considered dead? Could he not have intervened to prevent WWI and 9/11 or has human freedom meant freedom to do evil again in history? I think of this Proverb:

Do no violence to the place where the righteous live;
 for though they fall seven times, they will rise again;
 but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.

NYC rose again, Russia has gained strength, the Resurrection happened – such tragedy, paradox and mystery co-exist as does hope. All of these events drastically changed so many lives as well as history itself. Is the square really empty or like the ‘colour’ black, does it actually contains all the colours?

 

Excerpts from a Paint-Spattered Journal

NYC Journal at the Waterfront

NYC Journal at the Waterfront DS

Wednesday July 1, 2015

My plan is forming as I take an early morning walk at the waterfront. Painting at the waterfront takes a lot of stamina and a different kind of creativity that can be interrupted with questions. I take steps to be ready for Saturday when I will paint for the first time this year. I have chosen my spot and made a list of the size of canvas and brushes, paint tubes etc. I will need. I will do a little prep each day and leave early Saturday so I can get parking. I know that when I am there painting and looking up at the waves and people, the words always come to me: “This is what I was born for. I am being the real me”.

Monday July 6, 2015

I went painting Saturday after much indecision and inner dialogue (why bother you can paint more easily in the studio). The day was perfect – sunny and windy. I arrived early to get parking close to the lawn. I slowly unpacked the car then sat and wrote in my journal. I got my paints and brushes out, and then I rested with my thoughts.

The results of the day were that several people came to admire my work and to engage me in conversations about inspiration and exhibitions etc. I was able to begin a painting that I really like. I usually paint in layers so I can work on it over the next few times I go there. I hope to go once a week for 3 hours but with this smoke from wildfires near the city I am wearing a mask outside so it may not work out. Anyway, I am so happy I made the effort. Painting in the studio – great. Painting at the waterfront – priceless.

Tuesday July 7, 2015

The act of painting is very physical for me but much of the work is visual and art history research. When I am ready I lay another layer of paint on the canvas. This week I am hibernating because of the smoke. I keep my painting where I can see it every day so when I get ideas for the next step I am ready ahead of time.

I hope to paint at the waterfront once a week over the summer. I do not go on the crowded days. Next time, in order to lower the impact on my body I will take fewer supplies to carry.

Saturday August 8, 2015

The artists arrive one by one jostling for space in the shade. Some have the requisite red umbrellas, although most have bitten the dust seasons ago. The painters of the “Painters Landing” program are each permitted 12 feet of space. Some take more, some less. It is 9:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning.

I have honed down what I bring to essentials: 2 easels, a chair, a small table, a paint box, a water jug, and a carry bag. I also bring a couple of small, framed paintings to exhibit on one easel and a blank canvas to work on for the other today. The printed brochures say we are: “demystifying the art-making process”.

After set-up which takes about 10 minutes now, I settle to record the view in my journal: 10 tankers, a sailboat, a tugboat, 3 fishing boats and a motorboat fill the scene. Sounds pierce the tranquil place: a yellow pile driver of magnificent proportions from the construction site in the next block, beloved seagulls call, and the snatched conversations of late joggers intermittently fill the air close by. The smell, of course, is of the sea.

Photos are next. I travel light.   Phone photos will do. A couple of umbrellas stuck into the sand ahead, one green and white, the other solid pink, are only the beginning of a day of colour. I have made it again here – for the sixth time now. I am instantly happy. This is my working holiday: my staycation. It is sunny with a slight breeze: perfect. The day will be good with or without sales.

Monday August 10, 2015

It must be seen as arrogance – this attitude of joy I have. One woman says to me: “I have to make sales. I am not a hobbyist”. A sharp retort comes to mind. Then, humbled, I pray for sales for all of us – especially for her who is alone. Perhaps I am arrogant in my freedom of other income streams. Admitted or not, sales are the main form of validation for the successful artist, the beginner, and for those of us who are perpetually ‘emerging’. So far this month, I am just salt in their midst.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Book of Ephesians