Back Talk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 21, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

Low note: Working for the National Symphony Orchestra gives Daryl Donley access to plenty of performances. But the former technical director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra never expected to find himself with a front-row seat for the grisly spectacle he saw, and photographed, on September 11, 2001. Donley was waiting in traffic, a stone’s throw from the Pentagon, when he heard a plane fly over his car. “It got so loud that I ducked down,” he says. “I looked out and it was at eye level. I could see the windows. I could see the entire plane… and then I saw it fly into the Pentagon.” Unlike his fellow commuters, Donley, who doubles as a semi-professional photographer, had a camera with him. He recalls, “My first thought was, ‘I can’t photograph this.’ My next thought was, ‘I’m here. I’ve got the equipment. I’ve got to — just for documenting, for history.’” Donley says he started photographing “maybe two minutes after the impact.” Despite trembling hands, he fired off 38 shots that chronicle the aftermath of the terrorist attack, from the drama of the fiery devastation to the eerie inaction of the puzzled onlookers. The details are powerful: In two images, downed lampposts prove the precariousness of Donley’s position. In another, you can make out a flaming figure in the window of the burning building. Donley offers, “I’ve said something about being in the right place at the right time, but people have taken exception to that.” But not the curators at the Library of Congress. They bought five of Donley’s photos, which have also shown up on the pages of Life and Paris Match.

In brief: And you thought Steve Maleski was Vermont’s main meteorology man. It turns out artist Corin Hewitt — son of the late University of Vermont art prof Frank Hewitt — has more to say about weather than all the eye-on-the-sky guys combined. Weather, he offers, “contains a tremendous amount of metaphorical information as well as being totally banal. It’s the easiest connecting point for sharing experiences.” Of course, that makes the weather forecaster something of a hero — a god, even. Last year, Hewitt crafted an eight-foot marble sculpture of retired “Today Show” weatherman Willard Scott and installed it in the 30-foot airshaft of a 19th-century townhouse in New York City. Now, in keeping with his urban-rural vision, he’s moving it to a dilapidated silo in Richmond, where it will remain, exposed to the elements, for a year starting September 8. Ancillary prints, drawings and small-scale sculptures will be on exhibit concurrently at the Fleming Museum through the end of the year . . . Henry Joyce sees a lot of dreary paintings in his capacity as chief curator at the Shelburne Museum. Part of his job is to field calls from individual art owners who envision their treasured tableau hanging with the Webb collection. Occasionally, as in the case of Jim and Sue Wanner, they are on to something. When Joyce visited the couple, who recently moved from Charlotte to Burlington, “He was literally dancing around the living room,” Jim recalls. Joyce was pirouetting about a portrait, entitled “Quaker Woman,” by 19th-century itinerant American artist Ammi Phillips. The Wanners donated the work last month in response to the museum’s renovation and reopening of the Stagecoach Inn Gallery, where the painting is now displayed. But Jim says, “It’s large. We really don’t have a place for it in our new house. And we thought it should be shared more widely.” The painting, which is valued at about $18,000, came to the Wanners via Susan’s aunt, who bought it for its gold-leaf frame in 1956. It cost her a cool $150.