- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

Artists-shamans have been seers and soothsayers since time immemorial. Their first task was to divine the dreams of kings.
Artists still listen to dreams and premonitions.
D.C. painter Michael Clark passed through the World Trade Center in New York City late Sept. 10 to visit painter Ron English in Jersey City, N.J. Mr. Clark directs Washington's Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA DC, and New York's FLAT SPECialties.
The E subway ran under the Trade Center to the PATH train for the short ride to New Jersey. Mr. English urged him to spend the night, but Mr. Clark says, "I was tweaking and agitated." The Washingtonian returned to New York through the center about 1 a.m.
Mr. Clark plans a memorial exhibit soon at MOCA, 1054 31st St. NW. MOCA will exhibit Mr. English's "New York Anxiety" in its "Playerhaters" show opening Friday. Although Mr. English painted "Anxiety" in 1995 in reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing, he says the message horror at mass destruction is the same.
The New Jersey painter's reservations about the towers go way back. He recently lived on Chambers Street right behind the World Trade Center. "The night before the attack I dreamt I was in the Trade Center. It was shaking and a friend told me an earthquake had hit," the artist says.
"I used to take my daughter Zephr, now 6, to the preschool there. If we'd stayed, my son Mars, 3, would have been at the school. We lived in the center's shadow. It's lucky we moved," he says.
"Anxiety" displays a male head screaming while it changes into three faces. He says Edvard Munch's "The Scream" inspired him.
The artist also painted "Fire in the Fishbowl" right after the Trade Center attacks. The work is a takeoff on Pablo Picasso's "Guernica." It shows the former center, the Statue of Liberty and fish swimming through fire.
Anton Gallery, 2100 R St. NW, opened "9/11/01" this week. "Artists from all over the country called me to put on a show," gallery director Gail Enns says. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, whose solo exhibit was up at the time, asked that her show be taken down to make room for the new one.
Many of the 40 participants made art especially for "9/11/01." Mary Annella Frank was sculpting a handsome lotus flower when she heard about the attacks. The artist says that she felt intense loneliness in the days after the bombings and that images of the twin towers kept repeating themselves in her head.
Miss Frank says she felt that returning to the sensuous lotus would be frivolous. Instead she sculpted "After the Bloom," a dry, skeletal broken cement pod but with seeds that represent hope.
Aldo Tertino exhibits "Disquiet," the photo he took of a pile of dust at the Pentagon in Arlington County, also attacked Sept. 11. Catholic University teacher Tom Nakashima created "Beauty and Karmic Fish Await the Western Sunrise/ Standing on 'Ground Zero'" when he moved to Washington in 1983.
The artist says he painted the work as a reaction to the Cold War, and the message still holds today. A print of the painting hangs in a private office at the Pentagon. It survived the attacks.
Anton Gallery artists Jeff Stephanic, Peter Charles and Takako Nagai produced special works. Mr. Stephanic made a hopeful digital print of a rainbow surrounding the World Trade Center's twin towers. Sculptor Charles had begun a sleek "Obelisque" but decided to finish it as a tower.
Miss Nagai created "Confusion" for the exhibit. She destroyed a kimono, a symbol of bondage, and combined it with the American flag when she came to Washington in the 1980s. She made "Confusion" by combining her own poetry with the flag, which represents freedom.
Feminist Miriam Schapiro sent a collage from her home in the Hamptons. Washingtonian Carol Goldberg displays a portrait of a fireman. Filmmaker Linda Nishio sent a pair of upside down faces photographed from TV, covered by her text.
The artists all donated their work. Proceeds of the sale will be donated to Washington relief agencies dealing with the attacks.
Last week, Stuart Gosswein was hard at work on a model for the World Trade Center/Pentagon Memorial fountain. He plans to submit the finished maquette, or model, to the World Trade Center competition that New York City probably will set up for a memorial on the site.
"I had a very strong vision of this sculpture the day after the attacks. The vision was very strong in me," Mr. Gosswein says in his F Street NW studio. Though the model is still in the opaque foam-core stage he says it shows the massed elements and articulated design it's easy to visualize the glass-and-steel rectilinear image.
"I made the memorial with two square-rectangular vertical-rising columns encased within two large horizontal Pentagons," he says.
Mr. Gosswein describes the piece as 138 feet tall, one-tenth of the center's height. "It's a replica of the World Trade Center with 110 stories, each story made flat by laying a sheet of glass horizontally," the artist says.
The Pentagons will connect the towers at the 44th- and-fourth-story levels. The fourth-story connection sits on a circle of 51 columns representing the 50 states plus the District. Mr. Gosswein plans to thrust water up through the columns and cascade it off each floor down to the four-story level.
The Arlington Arts Center at 3550 Wilson Blvd. is just two miles from the Pentagon. This week the center opened "Stroke of Installation" with two terrorist-related works.
Mariah Josephy originally made her memorial for the Landmine Survivors Network, an international lobbying and activists' organization. It invited her to make an installation for the group's conference here last spring. "The Network also offered me a large pile of prosthetic legs," she says. However, the Organization of American States, site of the conference, nixed the piece.
She submitted the idea for the installation to the Arlington Center, which accepted it. A mirrored circle with a red "X" lies on the floor of the 10-foot-by-10-foot space. Seven legs, knees and feet of black mannequins, filled with bouquets, stand up around the circle. She extends what she calls a "cone" of 27 prosthetic legs 10 feet from the ceiling.
Pamela Chewning installed a "Day of the Dead" altar to commemorate the killings at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It's intended to give a kind of ritual prayer. The Arlington Center will hold a special commemoration around it from 5 to 11 p.m. Nov. 2.
Miss Josephy is president of The Washington Sculptors Group, which funded "Sculptors at Work." The project permitted 10 artists to sculpt at Strathmore Hall in North Bethesda, Clarendon Park in Arlington and the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington. Much of the work is site specific and could not be moved.
The portable sculptures are on view at the Hemicycle Gallery of the Corcoran Gallery of Art from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5.
Foon Sham was one of four sculptors who worked on the rolling grounds of Strathmore, just off Rockville Pike.
Mr. Sham creates tall wood sculptures for their powerful metaphysical connotations. He was working on "Biomorphic Forms" when he heard about the Sept. 11 attacks. He intends "Biomorphic" to rise 10 feet, with 80 layers of flat wood pieces.
Mr. Sham planned it as a circular, enclosed form. After the devastation, however, he split the piece into two sections that he relates to the World Trade Center towers.
The sculptor worked on the Strathmore site with a portable planer to cut the materials. Strathmore made wood from trees cut down for future expansion available to Mr. Sham.
As at Anton Gallery, artists barraged Meridian International Center by telephone."What about a show about Sept. 11?" they asked.
Nancy Mathews, Meridian's vice president for the arts, and co-curators Bill Dunlap and Pamela Bailey swung into action. "The artists want to express the tragedy from their point of view," Mrs. Mathews says.
Meridian plans a traveling show of 45 works by as many artists for late February. "We haven't chosen a title but it will be something around the American spirit," Mr. Dunlap says.
Meridian recently organized "Outward Bound," an exhibit of American artists that opened here and traveled through Southeast Asia. Several of the artists from the show called. The first was Gary Erbe. He will send "Survivor," an image of an eagle on a ruin with a dead bird.
Washington painter Sam Gilliam plans to participate. "At this time, local artists are like artists around the world. There's a strong level of feeling," he says.
Mr. Gilliam was driving down 16th Street on Sept. 11 when he saw the black cloud from the Pentagon. He says it reminded him of the riots of 1968 in Washington.
"I feel bad about the potential of war. We don't know what's going to happen. I'm not ready to put pencil to paper now," Mr. Gilliam says.
The artist notes that when Henri Matisse came to paint the Barnes Foundation mural near Philadelphia, the Frenchman wanted to see the skyscrapers, "the man mountains," as Matisse called them. Mr. Gilliam feels Osama Bin Laden, believed to be the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks, also regards the skyscrapers, airplanes and bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge "American."
Of artists, Mr. Gilliam says: "Artists always have fears they won't have money. They always feel pain and empathy because of this and they can extend this to others strongly now," he says.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide