- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) A painting commemorating the World Trade Center attack was pulled from a bank after a few days on display because a customer found it offensive.
But a company that makes military gear stepped in yesterday and offered to give the piece a new home.
Artist Paul D. Trice Jr. said employees at the Heritage Bank and Trust branch in Ocean View, Va., told him that a customer objected to the work, perhaps because it included an image of Osama bin Laden on a poster reading "Most Wanted by FBI Dead or Alive."
"I could not believe it," said Mr. Trice, who retrieved his painting Tuesday. If the painting is offensive, he said, it is because the act it depicts is offensive.
Dusty Rhoades, marketing manager for the London Bridge Trading Co. in Virginia Beach, read about the painting's plight yesterday and was incensed. He contacted Mr. Trice and asked to display the painting in the store.
"It will be in a place of honor here," said Mr. Rhoades, a retired Coast Guard member. Many employees have military backgrounds, and firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and members of the military frequent the store, he said.
"I think political correctness is getting out of hand," Mr. Rhoades said. "The fact that the bank took the painting down based on a sole customer's complaint … this is not right."
Mr. Trice said he told Mr. Rhoades that he would have to get back to him about the display.
He said he hopes that he can get President Bush and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to sign it. "I want to wait and see what happens with that," he said.
Mr. Trice said many other people had called him yesterday to express their support. "I had one guy call this morning and say, 'I want a dozen copies,'" he said.
Mr. Trice, a 69-year-old, self-taught oil painter, began working on the brightly colored piece immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, sometimes staying up until 3:30 a.m. in his kitchen studio.
The canvas shows several scenes of the terrorist attack: a view of New York Harbor with the smoke-engulfed towers in the distance, a close-up of a plane striking a tower, and rescue workers searching the rubble as firefighters raise the American flag.
He copied the images from newspaper photos, avoiding blood and gore.
Donald F. Price, Heritage Bank's executive vice president, was reluctant to discuss the flap. He said he wasn't there when the customer complained, so he was not sure what about the painting was troubling.
Another bank customer, Sonia Snoderly, didn't understand what all the fuss was about.
"How's that offensive? My family is over there fighting for all of this," she said as she watched Mr. Trice walk out with his work.
Mr. Trice plans to have the painting made into a lithograph and sell copies. A couple of bank tellers already have asked to buy some, he said.
"I'm proud of that painting, let me tell you that," Mr. Trice said. "It's one of the best pieces I've ever done. … I want people to look at it and say, 'We'll never forget this. Never.'"


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