One last “global” past and then I’ll get back to the streets of Salem, which are much more quiet now that Halloween is over. While in New York last weekend, I took a photograph of an amazing etching in my brother and brother-in-law’s apartment, an etching that they bought nearly ten years ago while we were all on vacation in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I was present at the “moment of purchase” and remember the event very clearly: we pulled the image out of a folder in a small gallery in the center of the city and were immediately taken with it: “El Mas Alla”, by the Mexican printmaker Nicolas De Jesus, was a striking image then and remains so now. (The photographs are not perfect because the flash reflected off the glass, but I think you can still grasp the urgency of the piece).
Bear in mind, when we first saw this hand-colored etching it was less than six months after September 11, so the image of the terrorists in the cockpit bearing down on the twin towers made us catch our collective breath, literally. For me, the additional/traditional Day of the Dead imagery only intensifies its message by mixing past and present, always a powerful combination! Nicolas De Jesus apparently specializes in this potent blend of current content and traditional motifs, as illustrated by another work on papel amates (bark paper): Wake Up America. More images of the artist’s work and a brief biographies are available here and here.
Ten years on, the Nicolas De Jesus etching in my brothers’ Brooklyn Heights apartment is all the more compelling because of its placement: on a wall adjacent to a large casement window overlooking New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and the rising One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, pictured below on the evening of September 10, 2011 and last weekend.