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New York, September 9, 2022
On Sunday, September 11 at 3:30 p.m. at Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York (BMCC/CUNY), 199 Chambers Street, Third-floor plaza, New York, NY 10007, renown multidisciplinary artist Cristobal Gabarron (1945, Mula, Murcia, Spain) will join BMCC musicians and singers as he creates a painting in a live performance, Ambit, that is part of an overall event, Healing and Building through Education.
The date of the art performance at BMCC is the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. BMCC is located in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center, site of the Twin Towers that fell in the attacks, and BMCC is the only college in the United States to have lost a building to a terrorist attack. At about 5 p.m. on 9/11, a building on the edge of the World Trade Center, Seven World Trade, collapsed and fell against BMCC’s academic building, Fiterman Hall — which was reduced to rubble on one side and eventually razed and rebuilt. The new Fiterman Hall rose in the footprint of the destroyed building in 2012.
The extraordinary Healing and Building through Education event is described by the artist as a “happening, performance and action painting.” BMCC faculty and student singers and musicians (38 artists), in a one-of-a-kind dialogue with Gabarron, will perform while he captures the energy of the moment on a large canvas of 9 x 29 feet.
The artistic program, organized by BMCC/CUNY and the Gabarron Foundation, is curated by BMCC Professors Maureen Keenan and Andrew Levy, and coordinated by BMCC Interim Vice president for Institutional Advancement Karen Wilson-Stevenson. A chorus conformed with 24 voices, led by professor Eugenia Oi Yan Yau (sopran), five musicians with instruments like flute (Maureen Keenan), chlarinet (Yi-Chuan chen), cello (Matthew Goeke), viola (Ina Litera) or saxophone (Jon de Lucia); and eight writers and poets among them there are researchers or choreographers: Domenick Acocella, Margaret Barrow, Katie Bockino, Justin Cabrillos, Cheryl Fish, Syreeta McFadden, Elizabeth Weaver, and Andrew Levy himself. A unique and emotive reflection from the interaction of 39 artists, the audience, the 9/11, and the location will surface from the heart of Manhattan.
The event will start at 3.30 P.M. with the opening remarks by Dr Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, CUNY chancellor, and Dr. Anthony E. Munroe, BMCC president. Closing remarks will be by Dr. Guillermo Linares, president of New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (NYE HESC) and the writer and pedagogue Dr. Teonilda Madera.
This is the fourth edition of Ambit, which began its journey in Spain and continued to present live art performances in India and Germany. Upcoming Ambit events will be staged in Malta, Egypt, Nepal and Australia, among other sites. Gabarron’s goal for the project is that Ambit will reach geographical points of special interest to him on five continents, interacting with other artists and audiences that share a unique connection to the location.
The Borough of Manhattan Community College, located in the heart of New York City is a college that is alive with ideas and innovation, and supportive of the innate human striving for self-improvement. BMCC has students from over 155 countries. CUNY, The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has 25 colleges spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 243,000 degree-seeking students of all ages each year.
Watch the 1 min video presentation: https://youtu.be/bQLY5yHM8RY and website www.gabarron.org/ambit
John Cody Lyon
Staff Writer BMCC/CUNY Public Affairs
Manhattan, New York (USA)/Murcia, 2022-09-12.
A contained emotion trembled the artists and personalities attending the new edition of ‘Ambit’ that the multidisciplinary Spanish artist Cristobal Gabarron (Mula, Spain, 1945) displayed in the heart of New York City in memory of 9/11. The event, which was meant to generate a deep reflection around a date that was a turning point in the history of the entire planet, contributed to the confluence of words of hope, the triumph of life, fraternity, resurrection and humanism, as well as warm applause.
The commemoration started with the tolling of the bells just in the same hour when the terror attacks happened, in memory of the pain and shock suffered. Immediately, the names of all the victims could be heard. Filled with that huge and overwhelming solemnity, the action painting started at 3.30 pm.
Not only was it an important date but ‘Ambit’ chose a special location, only few blocks away from ground zero, in the main campus of the City University of New York: BMCC - Borough of Manhattan Community College -, the only college in the history of United States that has lost a building due to a terrorist attack. The rain, that was forecasted the day before, made the audience and participants to protect under a cover and sunshade.
Gabarron was surrounded there by more than 30 artists linked with the American city and speakers from diverse disciplines, as well as international personalities with the main goal of promoting ideas exchanges over the current society. At the end, everybody, moved by the feelings, the memories and emotions gathered in the place, decided to name this edition of ‘Ambit’ with the name of ‘The voices of silence”. “Since 8:47 am I have been marked by hearing the voices of the relatives of the victims burdened with profound pain and emptiness for the loss of their loved ones, which were truly screams with no sound”, said Gabarron when he finished his artwork.
In this college location, in the heart of Manhattan, Gabarron painted in live a huge 9x29 feet acrylic over canvas. All the artists were driven by the impressions of the moment. The canvas starts with blue strokes on a gray background, from where a rain of small discs emerges, giving way to two large circles, one in bright green and the other in blue, which timidly overlap. Next comes a thicket of carmine and cadmium with also other colors, and finally another large carmine circle with a large violet spot, cornering to the right. “The work narrates from left to right a day, contained in time, in Ground Zero. First, the hollows made by the imprint of the two towers, the north and the south, with the monument of pools marked in charcoal and in two types of grey, from which, on the one hand, the two beams of cyan blue light that fill the vertical void of the two towers; on the other, the souls of all the people who lost their lives, represented by small colored cells that flow from inside the well of the pools, surrounded by a grayish cloud that represents the people pulverized or totally disintegrated in the brutal terrorist attack. Towards the center of the canvas, two ellipses, green and blue, symbolize a couple who met in that epic misfortune and that after 21 years are still together, it is a real love story that caught Gabarron’s attention, who interrupts the elongated cloud, of that gray river that connects with a group of colored flowers. Flowers from the victims’ relatives, placed in the holes produced by the names silhouetted on the edges of the monument waterfalls. The canvas ends in an apple-heart loaded with blood and violaceous matter”, the author details.
Meanwhile, the guest artists’ performances happened also based on free improvisation, put together by a chorus, music and poetry. The main characteristic of ‘Ambit’ is the conjunction of “happening, performance and action painting” which manages to get a natural fluid dialogue among artistic disciplines and diverse creators.
On this occasion, the curators of the event, Maureen Keenan and Andrew Levy, with the coordinator, Karen Wilson-Stevenson, from the BMCC/CUNY, conceived an artistic program with distinguished university students and professors. The program has counted with a chorus composed by three different formations of the university with 24 voices and directed by the professor Eugenia Oi Yan Yau (sopran), as well as five musicians and eight writers, poets, researchers and choreographer.
‘Nobody gets left behind’ was sung by the chorus shortly after the presentation words and the intervention of the first poets. Later, Gabarron has started to spread colours over a huge canvas, sometimes from the ground, sometimes on a ladder. Circles, rhombus, greens or blues started to be seen.
A little later, resounding between the walls of the college building, a saxophone was heard, and the clarinet rocket the movement of the poet and dancer Justin Cabrillos just before the echoes of the rainy afternoon brought back the voice of Cheryl Fish, poet, professor of BMCC and researcher of environmental justice. Behind them, new thoughts, new melodies, new brushstrokes… and the hectic soundtrack of The Big Apple filtering through as one more participant.
Gabarron, wearing a black jumpsuit, has kept painting, in red and with a spray. Margaret Barrow started reading and Syreeta McFadden -both writers and BMCC professors- joined her to conform two voices joined in poetry. One by one, the artists have been reeling off their thoughts before an attentive and large audience.
The scenario also hosted wishes in Spanish by the writer Teonilda Madera. “In this majestic place that offers us an amazing view of the new towers that have risen again towards the sky after that fateful 9/11”, she said, everything contributed to “the artwork that will rest in that canvas emerges splendidly from what sublimest soul of the artist who is painting it”. “The poetic inspiration, the melody of each musical instrument, the harmonious movements of the dancer and the vision of a better world are integrated into the pictorial universe that the great artist Cristobal Gabarron is creating”, a mural that “represents the triumph of life before any tragedy”, she added in the speech to close the event. She also defended “the fraternity, creativity and education are above any terrorist act”. She finished saying that “the work will remain on the canvas and in our hearts” and concluded that “in this Big Apple life, artistic creation and education triumph”.
To the event, almost magical, personalities of the international society belonging to the artistic, educational, environment and science sector attended as audience. Among them, Donald Kuspit, writer, art critic and American poet; Jay Levenson, director of the department of International programs of MOMA; the well known art critic Kosme de Barañano; Eric Maskin, Nobel Prize of Economy 2007; and the psychiatrist Luis Rojas Marcos.
In addition, the event also counted with the interventions of CUNY chancellor Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez; Dr. Anthony E. Munroe, president of BMCC; Dr. Guillermo Linares, president of New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (NYS HESC) and the writer and pedagogue Dra. Teonilda Madera. The senator of the state of New York, Brian Kavanagh said that “Art and Education give us the freedom to have a more tolerant and caring planet”.
A team of CUNY TV, led by Petar Talijancic, and Chaim Litewski, from The Gabarron Foundation, have been the ones in charge of recording the whole activity for the future archive and diffusion, a catalog will be edited where everything happening in this edition of Ambit will be there.
This fourth edition of ‘Ambit’, organized by The Gabarron Foundation -which celebrates its 30 anniversary this year- and the Borough of Manhattan Community College / The City University of New York (BMCC/CUNY) had the title of ‘Healing and Building through Education’ and its main goal has been done as it managed to get complicity, reflection, dialogue and the cooperation between the artistic and university world to bring their messages to society.
‘Ambit’ is an artistic proposal by Cristobal Gabarron happening in iconic locations across five continents where he feels a special interest. The next stop of this journey is Malta in October and in November it will land in Egypt. Nepal will host the event in December closing the year with 7 editions. Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, China or Qatar will be the locations for the next year where the artist is spreading his humanist message.
AMBIT is the main program of the commemorative events of the 30th anniversary of the Gabarron Foundation. After passing through Spain, India, and Germany the next edition will be held in New York City (USA) on September 11 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, in October on the island of Gozo (Malta), in November in El-Bahnasa (Egypt), in December in Kathmandu (Nepal). For 2023 editions are being prepared in Australia, Canada, Chile / Costa Rica / Mexico, China, Ghana / South Africa, Qatar and Spain.