Saturday, July 22, 2006

Early 2002

A number of works had been damaged in the studio part of the apt. which was connected to the terrace where the toxic dust came in on the day of the attacks. My wall sculptures just started to fall off the walls - no matter what I did to secure them. It was like a message that my work (6 months worth) was not going to survive well and would have to be rebuilt - like the WTC. I still had a studio visit from the dealer though and I was optimistic - given the reaction from the show. When he came over he was quiet (not a good sign) he looked at everything and there was a little discussion but nothing more. When he left I knew I was fucked, I just felt it. He never said anything in the following months about the work but I knew he did'nt care for them. I talked to him and told him that I was starting over - He wrote me that he continued to be interested in my work and hoped that someday soon 'there would no longer be ashes in my area' that got me, I knew it was over . I had cultivated and worked on him for a number of years and now he was losing interest - and along with everything else, I cried - I was inwardly despondent. You have to realize the relationship of artists and dealers - one is dependent on the other but if the artist is not famous, the dealer has all the power. The dealer brings the work to the viewers, sells it - gets it seen.........completes the equation. It is a very important partnership. Art dealers are notoriously fickle, they know they have power over the artists they show and the artists they don't. They can string an artist along for years. Art is a business - just like everything else, sad to say - artists need money and attention and the dealer provides that. I knew what I had lost - the original spark of interest, the hope, even though it started out as a joke it did'nt end that way..........the joke was on me, the irony of it all was not lost on me. I decided to destroy all the work I had......and thats what I did, one years worth of time and work all thrown in the trash. It was soul killing and I'll never forget that event in my life that for me coinsided with the 9/11 attacks and has become one with them.

to be continued

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Late 2001

In the later part of 2001, living in lower Manhattan was like living in a war zone. Since I was on a high floor there was no way to avoid the smell that would always be there, everytime I went out the burning smell was on the streets. I was not working, not many people were, so there was time to walk around and see what was going on - almost everything was closed, when I would look down the street at what they were now calling 'ground zero' all I saw was fire. It was very hard to live day to day under those conditions. Alot of the streets were opened and there was no place to get away from the miserable reality of life there.
I had heard that aid was being given if you applied, I resisted this for a few months then out of boredom really I got on the line at the old Emigrant Bank, on chambers, where they were doing the interviews. I thought, I'll never get any money, but again what the hell, why not try. The line was long but it was moving well and they seemed to have it well organized. It was not long before I was inside, they had long tables with staff interviewing people. I had brought what documentation I thought I would need to show residency etc. I was interviewed in a timely fashion and with great compassion, there where clergy walking around in case people needed to talk, the whole operation was in itself a kind of stunning example of compassion and caring by The September 11 Fund - Safe Horizon. I was really moved by the whole environment, it was a totally unique situation of people helping people - I had never experienced anything like this, I did'nt think this kind of thing could happen - it was dreamlike and moving. Aid was set according to where you lived in the 4 zones, zone 1 being the closest to the WTC, I lived in zone 3. To my surprise I left with a check that very day for $1500 and another $2500 a few weeks later in the mail. In addition to that they were allowing people to see psychologists free of charge and because of feelings of depression I used this option as well, I was also somehow able to get one year of free health insurance. All in all I was grateful by all of this because I had not worked in 6 months - and they were really trying to help people in those 4 zones - in this life altering experience we were all going made it a little easier to know someone out there cared, they may never care again but in this time of loneliness and need and shock, they were there for us.

to be continued

Saturday, July 01, 2006


In the late summer of 2001 I was working on a number of large wall size 'constructions' for want of a better word, following up a successful group show at a well known gallery in chelsea. I had been encouraged by the sale of a piece to a good collector and additional good feedback by curators. I had taken it even further and filled the walls with crazy variations on a theme, the works were joyous and unrestricted as if I had been given a license to go wild and the flow of creativity was what every artist wishes for, like nirvana on earth - there is no drug, no program, no lover that can compare with the power of inspiration at a time like this. Its as If something is working through you, using you, you are a vehicle through which a force (unknown) is expressing itself or yourself and the result is otherworldly, you don't know where it comes from, but you are grateful it's there because you know it won't stay long.
I remember my favorite televison show at the time was on cable access 'Lamp unto a Mystic' with Neferlyn Gray. Miss Gray was an authority on the Tarot cards and the Kabbala tradition, she would show pictures of the tree of life and she had a fantastic speaking voice.
In early September I went to a free performance of the Twyla Tharp Dance Co. in the plaza at the foot of the World Trade Center. As I sat there I remember looking up at the twin towers and thinking how majestic they were, I had often gone there to sit by the fountain of the world but I never really apprec. the buildings except from that vantage point that night.
A few days later it was a fine clear morning with no clouds. I went out at about 8am to go to the coffee cart on the corner of Gold and Spruce streets to get breakfast, while on line there was suddenly a thunderous explosion like sound, I thought 'what now' (there was always noise there) soon the sky was filled with floating paper, clouds of office paper drifting east toward Brooklyn. The Black lady behind me said 'Oh, look at the paper' Thinking something other than the usual controlled chaos was happening I walked a few blocks west and people where staring up at the trade towers. There was a huge black hole in the side of the north tower with smoke billowing out, the hole had to be between 6 and 8 stories wide. I said 'there are hundreds of people up there' and a man said 'thousands' someone said 'a plane hit the world trade tower'. I walked back to my building, thinking I will turn on the television to get more information. When I reached the front of 90 Gold I heard a gigantic explosion and turned my head, I saw a huge fireball in the sky coming from the south tower of the world trade center.
After going up to the apt. and turning on the tv, not much info was being broadcast except scenes of pandemonium, after a time I heard yet another explosion and the earth shook, before long a dense yellow - tan cloud appeared outside and stayed there, a thick layer of dust had blown onto the terrace of the apt. and into the open window. Before long the phone rang and it was my landlord (he worked in the area and lived in NJ) he needed to come up, He was covered with this thick dust, He took a shower and together we watched the tv, I said to him 'we have lived through history'. At 3pm he decided to leave and try to get home to NJ. I went out to sweep the terrace and while doing this my throat started to burn, the phone rang again but when I picked it up I could'nt speak, I started to gag and clear it. At 6pm the electric, phone, and water went off. The next morning Wed. I went to NJ too, to my mothers place and watched more tv, I was out of sorts and went back to 90 Gold the next day having decided to help somehow.
I put on my work clothes and a hardhat and gloves and walked over to the WTC. It was surreal, I walked right in - it was a gigantic mountain of twisted rubble - covered with smoke and fire, I could not believe what I was seeing. There were police and fireman and people working everywhere, someone put a bucket in my hand and I joined a chain of fireman carrying debris off this mountain, it was like a huge archeological excavation. When a body part was found, it was ceremoniously treated. The red cross had set up food stations with hot food for everyone, there were tables piled high with little bags packed by school children with food and the children wrote 'thank you' on the bags. This was the first week after the attacks - they were only able to work on the outer edge of the pile, the greater part of the site was still on fire and would burn for the following two months. Each night I would walk back to my apt. four blocks away and return the next morning. At the end of the week though the National Guard got there and enclosed the area - I was told I was not authorized to be there - and was turned away, so I went back to the apt.

to be continued