Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wartime in West Cambridge




In the wake of the horrific events of two weeks ago, the title of my recent exhibition, Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Look at Art Again, seems chilling and prophetic. The bombs exploded four blocks from the gallery. I’d like to take back that title if I could and substitute something bland and merely descriptive: Recent Paintings, perhaps.


We live across the river from Boston, in the westernmost part of Cambridge, right on the Watertown line. We do a lot of our shopping in Watertown, a community filled with Greeks, Lebanese, Syrians, Turks and Armenians. There are wonderful Middle Eastern markets, bakeries, Iranian restaurants, and felafel joints, all of them pungent with exotic spices, their proprietors and patrons yammering away in strange tongues.

You saw it all on the news. Gunfire, explosions, police, FBI, National Guard, Homeland Security, ATF, Swat teams, dogs, helicopters. We watched TV, tried to sleep (couldn't), checked repeatedly to make sure our doors were locked, lay in bed listening to the sirens, jumping up to look outside as our street filled with police cars, their pulsing lights painting the neighborhood blue.

On Friday the police helicopters buzzing across the sky were replaced by huge military copters. For a while one of them hovered directly above our house. As we poked our heads out the door to see what was happening, Judy suggested we check our shed. I said, "Don't." But after I'd gone back into the studio she went outside and looked in the shed to see if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding inside it. He wasn't.

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