Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sandy Giveth, and Sandy Taketh Away

The media had warned that Hurricane Sandy would be one of the worst storms to ever hit New Jersey. In the days leading up to it, the power companies that serve this region of the country warned its customers to expect to lose power for 8 to 10 days, and that was with them prepared for the storm.  For me it was indeed 8 days, though some places still are without electricity for 12 days and counting.  Areas closest to the water were hit especially hard.  Most boat owners dock their boats in the water, not on top of the dock itself, so that scene above (and countless like it all over the state) was Sandy's work.

Almost all of my framed artwork survived the storm in a safe building, and that which was in the  basement in Manasquan was mostly well above the flood zone.  Several framed Ecclesiastes prints were on a lower shelf, but I can always print new copies and cut new mats.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough room on the high surfaces for all the blocks.  Many larger blocks (above) were standing in a special holder, raised a foot off the ground, but unfortunately, still a foot below the waterline.  Even if I could ignore the sewage related contamination (and I can't), being submerged in clean water is enough to wreck them.  Wood swells, warps, cracks.  Sometimes the veneer (the printing surface) breaks off from the rest of the block.  Smaller blocks were packed in boxes.  The whole set of 185 Fourth of July blocks was in one very large custom made cardboard box.  The blocks toward the top of the box were fine, but those on the bottom were beyond help.  So about half of them (below) had to put in the garbage pile.  There are about 75 saint prints, and all but the newer ones (and a few that were recently reprinted and still at the Studio) were in one box on the lower shelf.  Only a dozen or so near the top of the box survived.  I have at least one proof of every print, so if there's a demand for one of the back saints, I guess I'll have to remake the block.  On the other hand, all the Ecclesiastes blocks and supermarket blocks were in a box on top of other boxes, and all are safe for the future.

The lower shelf also included several cardboard folders, which held assorted loose prints, especially larger prints (like from those big blocks above).  All of those folder were partly under water, so all of those prints were lost.

In most cases I have at least one proof of each in a frame, or rolled in or on a tube in my closet.  But in a few cases I lost the only proofs I had.  The only consolation is that these lost prints were lesser images that were unlikely to ever be exhibited again.  These folders also included some unused print paper.  That can always be replaced, but it's sad to see it go to waste.

So Sandy stole a few dozen prints from my inventory, and permanently ruined a few hundred blocks.  But I will likely get some things from it as well.  Suddenly my current boardwalk based series has a new context.  Pretty much all of New Jersey's boardwalks were seriously damaged- the buildings blown open, rides washed away, the boards themselves ripped up.  Any time I show any of these prints here in NJ in the near future, viewers can't help but think about the destruction of these popular destinations.  And I think this means that I have to do a hurricane related print.  Hard to collect my own references right now, since police barricades block access to most beach and boardwalk zones still, with  even residents sometimes unable to return to their own homes.  Maybe in a few weeks I'll be able to get close enough to take some photos and get some ideas.

There may be a supermarket print to come out of this as well.  I live across the street from a supermarket that has its own generator, so it reopened as soon as the storm passed.  And for a few days, it was the only store of any kind open for miles in all directions, and it was packed with shoppers.  No one panicked enough to result in violent confrontations, but people were definitely desperate to get certain items, and some shelves and aisles were completely cleaned out.  I'll make some notes and basic sketches, and set them aside for a future time when I don't have a bunch of other prints to do.


Post a Comment

<< Home