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From the Tower

an artist reflects on his time in the world trade center



In the mixed-media work he called “Premonition,” Litchfield-based artist Donald Bracken painted a thumbnail-sized World Trade Center beneath a column of pale sky nearly five feet tall and a mere four inches wide. A plumb bob affixed to the painting dangles directly over the minuscule towers like the sword of Damocles.

Bracken, a soft-spoken artist with curly, chin-length hair and a wiry build, created the piece in a studio on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center—in 1997. That year, as part of the Plein Air Project, an artists’ residency program organized by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, he used a vacant office floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center as studio space for three months. “The project’s mission was to document the ever-changing skyline of Manhattan,” Bracken explains. He shakes his head—what is there to say about the irony of that? 
“Premonition” was not the only prescient piece Bracken made during his stint in the clouds. Another, “World on Fire,” shows a corner of an empty room where two walls of narrow windows meet. The tall, skinny windows—now horrifically familiar—are portals of yellow flame. “I was not the only artist who made paintings like this,” Bracken says. Several such prophetic images, including these two by Bracken, appear in Site Matters, a book featuring work from the project. It is dedicated to the late Michael Richards, an artist who was working on the 92nd floor the morning of September 11, 2001.

By that time, Bracken was living in upstate New York, but he had visited Battery Park in lower Manhattan on September 10—the day before that fateful Tuesday. “When a friend called to tell me about the attacks, my first response was to hurl handfuls of red oxide paint onto the Mylar [polyester sheet] that I had hung on my windows on the 91st floor.” He found the vast panorama from the windows overwhelming, so he had covered some of them up.

Bracken subsequently moved to Connecticut and started working in dirt—specifically, the ancient floodplain soil of the Connecticut River Valley. “The dirt paintings depict farmland and are made of the land, created on the site,” he explains. In 2007 the bucolic subject—and the dirt—changed dramatically, when Bracken acquired debris from Ground Zero. Bracken mixed paint with the acrid-smelling dirt, which contained electrifying fragments—shards of porcelain sinks, a hair barrette, a strand of beaded jewelry. One of the most affecting works in this series is “Torn Earth,” a pair of diagonally aligned squares gouged into the surface with an axe, a crowbar, and other tools Bracken imagined recovery workers would have wielded. “I threw paint on the panel and shoveled ash on top of that and beat on the whole thing with an axe,” he says. That disturbing energy still charges the ruined surface.

Bracken’s post-9/11 work culminates in a series of large pieces, using hollow-core doors the same size as the windows in the towers. The largest of these so far, “Heaven and Earth” (80 by 162 inches), recently shown at the New Arts Gallery, comprises nine moveable panels, each a door. The surface is composed of thick dabs of bisque-colored clay riven with hundreds of cracks, like a raku pot. It takes a moment for the image to crystallize out of the monochromatic texture. Then, it materializes—a ghostly relief of the New York cityscape from the North Tower’s 91st floor, dwarfed by an enormity of sky.

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November 2017

Come create new memories in a magical setting of over 100 holiday trees, elves and pixie dust. Enjoy shopping, live entertainment, raffle prizes and more! Featuring special kids events:...

Cost: Admission: Adults: $10 • Children & Seniors: $5• Kids under 5: Free

Where:
Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Road
EXIT 2, I-84
Danbury, CT  06810
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Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 1-866-907-2314
Contact Name: Jack Bouffard
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17 years and going strong! This holiday, we’ll again be creating and donating Thanksgiving baskets filled with all the fixins’ to less fortunate families in the central Connecticut...

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Lewis Mills High School
26 Lyon Rd
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Clarinetist Dr. Vincent de Luise, Soprano Becky Nesmith and Pianist Jenny Li will perform a classical chamber concert titled An Afternoon of Romantic Music. The Romantic period was one of the most...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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The WCSU Wind Ensemble, conducted by Fernando Jimenez, will perform Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the...

Cost: $6.00

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
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In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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The Department of Theatre Arts will present "EVITA" in the MainStage Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury....

Cost: $25

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06811
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Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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Cost: $9.75

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06811
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In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

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The WCSU Chamber Singers, conducted by Kevin Jay Isaacs, and the Concert Choir, conducted by Cory Ganschow, will perform Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert...

Cost: $6.00

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
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Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
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Dreaming of holiday shopping , strolling through a quaint New England village while sipping sparkling wine? Well, dream no more and come to Kent’s fifth annual Holiday Champagne Stroll....

Where:
Kent, CT


Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Magician, Debbie O'Carroll, will present stage magic with lively theatre and lots of audience participation to entertain you and your Thanksgiving company.  Enjoy this colorful and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Dreaming of holiday shopping , strolling through a quaint New England village while sipping sparkling wine? Well, dream no more and come to Kent’s fifth annual Holiday Champagne Stroll....

Where:
Kent, CT


Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
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