Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11 Remembered

Thought I would just repost what I wrote last year on the ten year anniversary:

Of course we are all reflecting on this terrible day in American history. I thought I would post some of my experiences from that memorable week.

Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam (1917)

It was going to be a memorable day for me no matter the events that occurred that morning in Manhattan. I happened to packing my car getting ready to drive 900 plus miles to New Hampshire. I had only been married 3 years to my wife when I got the idea in my head that I needed some serious training if I wanted to be a painter. Laura was very supportive in this decision and traveled with me to Italy to look at a few Ateliers. Oddly, I chose The Paul Ingbretson School of Drawing and Painting in Manchester, New Hampshire without having visited it. It came highly recommended by Carl Samson.
I would like to stress, that I am not much of a traveler. I am also not a very good driver (I was in an accident just a week before- having driven into the side of a huge tour bus). So the idea of leaving my new wife in Cincinnati, while I drive 900 miles to a place I had never been, not knowing a soul, with no arrangements for a place to live, for an undetermined period of time was pretty daunting already. The plan was to leave early on September 11. As Laura and I where busy packing the car, I decided to check my email and received one from a  friend in Sweden asking "What the hell is going on in NY?"
I had no idea.
We turned on the news and so ended the preparations for the trip. We were glued to the TV the rest of the day.
I won't go on about that day, as we all had similar feelings of shock and fear. I did not leave that day. I think it was a few days later before I finally decided the world was not ending and  it was relatively safe to leave. One thing that sticks in my mind about the drive, was to listening to the radio discussing the events and heroic rescue attempts at the site. A few times it was too much and I worked to find any station that was just playing music. It seemed most of the time I was able to find a 70's rock station that was not playing too much news. The nonstop coverage on the stations was just too intense. It is hard to drive if you are crying.

I finally made it to New Hampshire, my new home away from home, arriving at the studio the next day. I was of course very anxious in a new place but it only got worse when I was meet at the studio door by a student. I was lucky enough to meet the only student, in Paul's 20 years of teaching, to have been kicked out of the school. He was actually voted out by the other students. He was there packing up his stuff to leave and was not happy about it. There was no one else in the studio.He was very excited to learn that I was also from Ohio and then  went on a tirade about how everyone in the studio was of "noble blood", unlike us Ohioans. He said they were all going to look down on me as being a "lowly Midwesterner".  I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.
He took me on a tour of the area and then out for a beer. He spent the evening telling how he was going to be the next Michelangelo and that he was kicked out of the studio because everyone including Paul was intimidated by him. He also went on and on about how the events of 9/11 were the beginning of a holy war started by Louis Farrakhan and that we should both go sign up with the military to fight the fight. He kept asking me if I loved my wife. If I did, I should go home to her.
This was not what I was expecting to find when I got to the studio. Now, I am a pretty good judge of character and had figured out that this fellow had some issues. Turns out he had a lot of issues. He was very sick and troubled and left offensive and threatening messages on the studio voice mail for years- some mentioning UFO's, black helicopters and Gandalf.
After he finally left for the evening, I was alone in the studio to sleep on the studio couch  as it stormed outside.  It really was a surreal evening.

Well, once that "introduction" was over, the next morning I finally meet Paul and his students. As soon as Paul began to speak I knew I was in the right place. The students were all there for the same reason, to study the art and craft of painting. We were all there to learn how to see the beauty in the world and represent that beauty on the canvas.
As I reflect on the events of ten years ago and the days following, I have mixed feelings. Of course that day changed things for all of us, but for me it was also the beginning of a life long struggle for Truth and Beauty.

No comments: