It was several years ago when Dave Gordon first mounted his art exhibit “And Then There Was Quiet: New York After 9/11.” It was a much smaller version of the exhibit than he shows now, and it was to be held in a Massachusetts coffee shop.
Hours before the show was supposed to open, Gordon learned of a problem. The mortgage hadn’t been paid, and people were there to foreclose on the coffee shop.
Gordon’s exhibit gave the coffee shop a one-day short stay of execution. The people who were there to enforce the foreclosure found out an art exhibit about the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, was scheduled. They called the company that held the mortgage, and out of respect to the exhibit’s subject matter, the company agreed to delay the foreclosure.
Gordon, who has lived in Sarasota for the past few years, has brought his exhibit to cities around the country. He’s now bringing it Bradenton. “And Then There Was Quiet” will be displayed at the Manatee Library System’s Downtown Central Library through Sept. 11. It was supposed to open Aug. 31, but the library was closed for a couple of days because of Hurricane Hermine, so Gordon wasn’t able to finish installing it.
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The exhibit had its genesis, Gordon said, on the very days of the attack.
I was in Boston when 9/11 happened. I was watching TV and I saw the terror. But as an artist, it seemed to me that there was something missing. What was missing was a sense of solemnity. The atmosphere in New York was very quiet and very friendly.
“I was in Boston when 9/11 happened,” Gordon said. “I was watching TV and I saw the terror. But as an artist, it seemed to me that there was something missing.”
He couldn’t quite figure out what that was, he said, until he traveled to New York himself.
“What was missing,” he said, “was a sense of solemnity. The atmosphere in New York was very quiet and very friendly.”
The exhibit consists mostly of photographs of the days following the attacks. The images have a serene horror to them. They don’t show people jumping to their deaths, or mangled buildings or wounded humans. Instead, they show people going about their workday business, wearing white masks over their noses and mouths; city streets coated ethereally in gray dust; a hospital gurney inexplicably abandoned for days in a subway station; a firehose left unattended on a sidewalk; the warm glow of candlelight vigils.
From 1-3 p.m. Sept. 10, the public is invited to a remembrance of 9/11 at the library. The event will offer the public the opportunity to share memories of 9/11 and to participate in the creation of a new artwork that may become part of the international exhibits in 2017. It’s free and reservations are not required.
Besides the photographs, “And Then There Was Quiet” includes a re-creation of one of the walls of fliers that appeared after the 9/11 attacks. People posted photos of missing friends and family members, pleading for information about them. Gordon photographed the fliers and has created a replica of the displays.
He also includes a terrarium containing dust that was piled on the streets around the World Trade Center after the attack.
Gordon is a professional artist who works in a variety of media, including interactive sculpture. He shows his work in galleries all over the country, but he tries to install “And Then There Was Quiet” in places other than art galleries.
“It’s important to me that as many people see this as possible,” he said. “So I try to put it in non-traditional places, like a library, and I make sure it’s always free and open to the public.”
The current show in Bradenton is the first in this area, and Gordon says he hopes it won’t be the last. He’s working with the Sarasota Sister Cities project to show “And Then There Was Quiet” next year at this time in Sarasota and in several of Sarasota’s sister cities around the world all at the same time. It may not be feasible to have it in all nine sister cities, Gordon said, but that’s his goal.
Anyone who wants to contribute to the effort to bring the exhibit to Sarasota’s Sister Cities can do so through generosity.com/fundraisers/and-then-there-was-quiet-new-york-after-9-11.
Details: Through Sept. 30, Manatee County Downtown Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W., Bradenton. Free. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, noon-8 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. 941-748-5555, mymanatee.org/library.