but it’s as if the universe knows it’s the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 and presents us with a day that eerily resembles that day, the bluebell sky, the lovely cool of late summer, the feeling of peace and anticipation of all the good things fall will bring.
You know what comes next. And everyone has their 9/11 story, trotted out among friends and family for the occasion as if rubbing the old wound will heal it.
It’s the day before the anniversary, late afternoon, and we are on our way to an art opening on Manhattan’s southern tip, on South Street. The uneasy anticipation of the big day has begun to well up, along with excitement about the art show, which bills itself as the Independent Art Fair, and is to take place at Casa Cipriani, the swellegant restaurant we can’t ordinarily afford, situated on the upper floor of the Governor’s Island Ferry Terminal.
lThis show is where the up and comers hang their work. It’s a white hot market apparently for these comparatively juvenile artists, ones who haven’t made it yet to Upper East Side walls.
Driving down the West Side Highway toward 10 South Street, at South Ferry, we share tales of that day. How Gil and I went down to library park in Hastings, with its magnificent view of Manhattan Island, and watched the smoke plume from the towers before they fell. How I was on the phone with my father only a little later, both of us glued to the tv screen, when the first tower pancaked. Josefa’s husband was ill and she was rushing him to the hospital when she first heard about the tragedy on the car radio. A friend of ours who lived downtown abandoned her car on the FDR and ran toward the fire to pick up her kid at a preschool steps away from the flames. You have a 9/11 story too, don’t you?
So memories loom over the day before the anniversary, but can’t quell the sense that the city is coming back from its newest tragedy, the pandemic. Art as palliative.
We sit on the balcony of the Battery Maritime Building.
The Beaux-Arts building was built from 1906 to 1909 and designed by the firm Walker and Morris as the easternmost section of the partially completed Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal. It has backstage views of the Staten Island Ferry sign.
And various rushing roadways.
But you always feel the presence of another time, through design details it’s easy to overlook.
The reception is thronged with artists and patrons. If you must sit and eat dinner — and I am famished — it is delicious.
The art is relatively low-end in terms of an investment, ranging from 10 to 10,000 dollars, according to the knowledgable art dealer, Rick, who invited us. It’s quite a range.
I like some more than others.
As would anyone.
But it’s nothing to worry over, on this day before the anniversary of 9/11, a year and a half since Covid hit our city.
Computer art. The toebone is connected to the ankle to the kneebone.
An homage to the early 20th century revolutionary revelatory Russian artist Malevich.
Textiles. I like that.
There is a shop at which you can buy an artist’s facsimile of her own notebooks for $25 apiece. Lee Lozano, look her up. Wow.
What a concept.
We wander among the rooms that used to be the ferry’s waiting area. You can still get transportation to Governor’s Island and Jersey City down below. People are boarding to go to Governor’s Island even now, at 7 pm on a Friday night.
Where we are, dealers are hustling, selling art.
I won’t buy any.
But it’s a kind of wonderful event, a way of marking the distance between then and now. Art flourishes, even in the wake of darkness.