I remember following the news for almost four weeks with great intensity as East Germans were successfully escaping to the west and when the Brandenburg Tor opened on September 11, 1989, it signaled the end of a divided Germany. I wanted to fly to Berlin, taking my son with me and for us to be part of the history in the making. However Armont was only one year, a month, and three days old at the time when the fall of the Berlin Wall was marked officially down on November 9, 1989. To personally mark the event, I started a 36 x 36 inch painting, which for me represents my own beginning as an artist, even though it would take another ten years before I would pick up my brushes again, and seriously returned to the profession of painting.
The abstract painting noting the fall of the Berlin Wall is one of the few canvases that were created spontaneously, reaching for whatever paints and art materials I had on hand. Using acrylic house paint, model craft spray paint, children’s crayons and of course oil paint, I went at the canvas as if lead by a mysterious hand guiding me through the various stages and the multiple layers until it was completed. In the end The Berlin Wall – Section 276 also represents what I encountered in 1974, when standing before the wall for the first time.
I grew up in the shadows of the Berlin Wall as construction started August 13, 1961 while living in Southern Germany, attending a private boarding school until my return to Californian the following year. I found myself in Berlin nine years later attending the HFBK as a guest and once more in 1974, when I decided to take a train through East Germany rather than flying to Berlin.
The train ride took several hours, stopping at most towns along the way. During our trip into the DDR, our train was boarded by East German soldiers with submachine weaponry and remained posted at each end of the compartment until we reached the West Berlin border. We were also treated to East German propaganda, handed out by the DDR Cultural Ministry personnel upon our first stop after entering East Germany. The experience is one I am grateful for, despite the lapses in memory which is also weak on a number of other points, especially the details of what the landscaped looked like, other than empty.
I still have a number of those booklets and smaller pamphlets that were handed out that day. They are in some box that have not been opened since they were packed when I moved out of my San Francisco apartment to get married some twenty-two years ago. I did find my out-of-date passport, turning to the page the East German border control stamped my arrival, departure into their land. With the subsequent arrival and departure stamps on the same page a few days later, as I returned to the West the same way I had left, with a long train ride though East Germany.
The Berlin Wall remained closed until September 11, 1989, six months later on March 10, 1990 Germany reunification took place.