Art and political subject matter often make for strange bedfellows, but in the case of the massive collective grief over the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it seems fitting that artists would turn their pens and brushes to the task of depicting the post-9/11 mental landscape.
In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the attacks, at least four North Fork galleries are holding exhibits in remembrance of Sept. 11. Those exhibits, gallery talks, workshops and memorial services abound.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if every artist has something that relates to that day,” said Margery Gosnell-Qua, who is curating the “Remembering 9/11” exhibit at Suffolk County Community College’s Lyceum Gallery in Riverhead. “It’s in our reality. It’s close. You always have to paint your own reality.”
The paintings, photographs and mixed-media work are primarily by East End artists who weave post-traumatic images with scenes of caring and transcendence.
Highlighted on one large wall in the gallery, a series of 99 linoleum prints by Mattituck artist Gina Gilmour displays human figures comforting one another. Ms. Gilmour is working with a quilter to have the designs sewn onto a large quilt, which will be given to the family of a 9/11 victim.
Riverhead artist Joan Rogers was upset by the media blackout on the deaths in the Iraq War following Sept. 11. Her piece, a series of triangular flag cases like those given to loved ones at military funerals, becomes a shadowbox of newspaper clippings of names of the fallen.
Shelter Islander and Manhattanite Roz Dimon, a graphic designer, used images layered in a Photoshop collage for two striking pieces titled “Pale Male” and “Windows on the World.” Fellow Shelter Islander Janet Culbertson displays two pieces, one an abstract view of the twisted metal that remained after the towers fell and another, equally abstract, that hints at the light between two dark towers on either side of the canvas.
Two paintings depicting a soldier’s outer and inner worlds are displayed side by side. The first, by Anna Jurinich of Wading River, shows a pair of eyes witnessing the chaos of men in battle. The second, by Steve Alpert of Quogue, depicts a soldier with a worried look as he prepares for war.
For Greenport’s Sirens’ Song Gallery owner Caroline Waloski, the events of Sept. 11 couldn’t be much closer. As the towers were falling, she was at work at the Manhattan Graphics Center on the corner of Washington and Canal streets, just five blocks from the World Trade Center. One of the center’s artist members worked at the World Trade Center and lost 175 co-workers that day.
“We all decided to express our grief in a collaborative portfolio,” said Ms. Waloski. The group of artists put together a collection of 40 prints of works that were symbolic of the events of Sept. 11 and then created five complete sets of the portfolio. One is in the Library of Congress, one in the collection of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, one at the New York Historical Society and one at the New York Public Library.
The fifth set is currently on loan to a university in Ohio but pieces from it will be on display at Ms. Waloski’s gallery beginning Sept. 24, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m.
Ms. Waloski and Terry Falquero, of Studio East Gallery in Greenport, will both discuss the tragedy in an art talk sponsored by East End Arts at Brecknock Hall on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Ms. Falquero’s gallery has held two previous exhibits honoring the survivors, first responders and family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, and has used the theme to raise money for families of victims of the tragedy since 2009.
Her new exhibit, “Remember, Honor & Hope,” opens Sept. 9, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Artists who responded to the open call include Kyra Neeley, Pat D’Aversa, Mike Azzato and Michael Barnett, whose works range from photographic depictions of first responders, to heartfelt portraits of the American flag, to an ominous canvas of a storm brewing over the Manhattan skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ms. Falquero hopes the Brecknock Hall gathering will spur people to discuss their Sept. 11 experiences.
“We’ll be talking about the way artists express themselves through tragedy,” she said. “We’ll lead and let people share where they were.
“My daughter was 10 years old and I took her to the beach in Sound Beach, and there was a lot of smoke in the sunset. She thought it was a beautiful sunset, but I knew what it was,” she added. “We went home and shut off the TV and painted. I did a painting myself that evening of a flag. A lot of people are still quite compelled to make art about it.”
“It was a major part of Suffolk County, New York and Long Island history,” said Kathy Curran, the curator of a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Suffolk County Historical Society.
Included in the exhibit are a series of 28 photographs of the construction of the Twin Towers taken by Kevin O’Connell, who was commissioned by the contractors building the towers to document the construction process.
“He was taking pictures from a very technical point of view that’s really very moving,” said Ms. Curran. “It ends with the image of the completed towers in the distance under the Washington Square monument. That vision is no longer there.”
The exhibit includes an eight-foot-tall stainless steel and marble sculpture of the towers as they were hit by the airplanes on that morning by David Haussler; photos of the aftermath of the tragedy by Gary Jacquemin; a book by multi-media artist Mare Dianora of messages from friends trying to contact her in New York immediately after the attack; and a metal, mirror and LED flag sculpture by Leonardo Liguori in which viewers can see their reflection. The exhibit also includes oral history videos of East Enders’ response to the events produced by Riverhead Free Library.
“This is really a very contemporary exhibition compared to what we usually do,” said Ms. Curran.
An opening reception for the society’s exhibit will be held on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m., and the museum is holding several other events throughout the month, including a talk with the FAA’s Northeast regional air traffic controller who was on duty on Sept. 11, a discussion on oral history and a memory book-making project with Ms. Dianora.
Sept. 11 anniversary events
• Friday, Sept. 9, 6 to 8 p.m.:
Reception for ‘9/11 Memorial Exhibit’ at Suffolk County Historical Society, Riverhead.
• Saturday, Sept. 10, 6 to 9 p.m.:
Reception for ‘Remember, Honor & Hope: Tenth Anniversary of September 11th’ at Studio East Gallery, Greenport.
•Monday, Sept. 12, 11:30 a.m.:
Memorial service and discussion with artists of ‘Remembering 9/11,’ Lyceum Gallery, Montaukett Learning Resource Center, Suffolk County Community College, Northampton.
• Wednesday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.:
‘9/11 Air Traffic Control: A Firsthand Account’ with Paul Thumser, former air traffic control supervisor at Suffolk County Historical Society. Admission $5.
•Thursday, Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m.:
Lecture: ‘Remember, Honor & Hope’ with Terry Falquero and Caroline Waloski at Brecknock Hall, Greenport. Co-sponsored by East End Arts.
• Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.:
‘Collecting Folklore and Oral Histories’ lecture by Dr. John Eilertsen, director, Bridgehampton Historical Society at Suffolk County Historical Society. Admission $5.
• Saturday, Sept. 24, 6 to 9 p.m.:
‘Manhattan Graphics Center’s 9/11 Memorial Portfolio’ opens at Sirens’ Song Gallery, Greenport.
• Saturday, Oct. 1, 11 a.m.:
‘Creating a Memory Book’ workshop with book artist Mare Dianora at Suffolk County Historical Society. Fee $20. Preregistration: 727-2881.