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Artist's 9/11 Sculpture Rises in TriBeCa

By Julie Shapiro | May 4, 2011 2:07pm | Updated on May 5, 2011 7:00am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — A soaring bronze sculpture that recalls the Twin Towers rose in TriBeCa on Wednesday, in preparation for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this fall.

Called "911," the 11-foot sculpture by local artist Bill Barrett consists of two tall slabs with wavy, intertwined forms curling around them. It will remain at the southern tip of Finn Square, at Varick and Leonard streets, through the end of October.

When Barrett started crafting this sculpture and many others like it in the aftermath of 9/11, at first he didn't realize that he was creating a replica of the World Trade Center.

"I didn't predetermine that I was going to make anything related to 9/11," said Barrett, who has lived in TriBeCa since 1977. "It just started evolving."

But once Barrett saw what he was doing, he felt that the series of sculptures, which he calls the Lexeme Series, was a fitting tribute - the rectangular blocks clearly express the towers, while the more organic forms represent human spirits.

Barrett has displayed his work in Finn Square before, but not since 9/11. The impetus to put up the artwork now came from Ted Karounos, who owns the Square Diner across the street and thought his good friend's sculpture would improve the area.

"It's a little bit of self-interest," Karounos said with a laugh as he waited for the sculpture to arrive Wednesday. "But I also like his work. It's also very beautiful."

The rainy weather did not dampen Barrett's enthusiasm during the installation of the sculpture Wednesday morning. He supervised the careful adjustments as a crane lowered the 1,500-pound work into place, and then he stepped back, considering the angles.

"That's it," Barrett said at last, a smile breaking across his face. "I like that."

Barrett, who lives and works around the corner from Finn Square, plans to visit the sculpture every day, to make sure it stays clean and in good condition. He is considering placing a single flower at the sculpture's base, to signify that he sees it as a memorial.

Barrett hopes the sculpture could become a community gathering place in the months leading up to this fall's anniversary, but he also wants to give the public a chance to determine their own view of it.

"That's the beauty of abstract work — you can create your own relationship with it," Barrett said.

Even in the pouring rain, several passersby stopped beside the newly installed sculpture Wednesday morning to study it.

Koran Irvine, 30, a Con Edison worker, said he didn't see the resemblance to the Twin Towers from behind, but once he was in front of it, the meaning became clear.

"It's a great day to put it in, with bin Laden done," Irvine said. "It's a great piece of art, and especially seeing what it is — " Irvine swallowed hard. "It's beautiful."