9-11: Local artists inspired by tragedy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Shocked and saddened by the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, James Donaldson turned to the outlet he’s used for more than 30 years to cope in times of trouble.
He picked up a brush, and he began to paint.
Six months later, the Davie County High School literature teacher who lives in Salisbury had created “9-11,” an acrylic painting in vibrant colors featuring men huddled together in front of a tattered — but still whole — American flag.
“There was something I wanted to say,” Donaldson said. “You may try to harm us, but people will come together, literally embracing. When bad things happen, they come together to help.”
Like Donaldson, other local artists responded to 9/11 by using their talent to create something meaningful and lasting.
Cara Reische’s oil painting “September 11, 2001,” with two candles, a globe and an apple, became an iconic Salisbury image in the aftermath of the tragedy. Many people purchased prints or cards featuring the work, created by Bruce Wilson of the Fine Frame Gallery.
Marc Hoffman composed an intricate six-minute piece for jazz trio dubbed “Late September,” which will anchor an upcoming CD by the same name.
“For the first time in my life, we felt vulnerable on our own soil,” Hoffman said. “It sat on me like it did everybody else.”
Hoffman had been writing for trio for some time in 2001 and turned again to the expressive combination of piano, bass and drums.
“I just sort of poured it out in that way,” he said.
Written in a minor key, the composition has a haunting quality, although three-quarters of the way through listeners sense a feeling of triumph.
Hoffman said he wrote the original piece in about a week and then set it aside. Five years later, he returned to the composition and completed it. He’s aiming for a November release for “Late September,” which will be available locally, at www.marchoffman.com and on iTunes.
For Reische, art has become more about the process than the final product. Creating “September 11, 2001” was her quiet response to the terror attacks amid an atmosphere Reische said had become too political.
“In terms of therapy, it is the time you spend quietly in the studio while creating,” she said. “The best product is when you are most absorbed in the creative process.”
Jimmy and Luanne Anderson own Reische’s original painting. Reische’s other work hangs at the Green Goat Gallery at 516 S. Salisbury Ave. in Spencer.
Donaldson’s “9-11” painting and other pieces are for sale at Great Finds & Designs, 429 N. Main St.
A decade after the terror attacks, Donaldson is preparing for his debut gallery show in New York City. Several of his pieces will hang from Oct. 14 to Nov. 12 at the Phatory, 618 E. 9th St.
“9-11” will be among them.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.