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Photographer captures NYC after attacks

This shot is among the 70 prints in an exhibition by New York native Joseph Pergolizzi, on display next week in Grass Valley.
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Sometimes you have no choice but to return home to horrific situations beyond your control.

Joseph Pergolizzi, a photographer-artist who grew up in New York and moved to Lake Tahoe four years ago, was compelled to return to New York City in November for three weeks. He volunteered to give massages to Ground Zero workers at St. Paul’s Chapel, a block away from the World Trade Center, and took pictures of the area.



While his friends and family on the East Coast live daily with the aftermath of Sept. 11, Pergolizzi doesn’t have that network in California.




“I feel a little disconnected from my friends and families,” Pergolizzi, 28, said Monday. “I speak to them all the time, and I feel a little left out.”

He’s doing the next best thing – traveling with an exhibition of 70 prints from his November visit to California and Colorado venues. The photos include a perspective of New York City’s skyline before and after Sept. 11 and several photographs of Ground Zero.

Pergolizzi is covering all expenses; he doesn’t charge admission at the traveling exhibition.

Why?

“I’m a communicator, I’m an artist,” Pergolizzi said. “I took part in an event that shaped the world. My mom worked two blocks away from the towers. I lived in Staten Island – I saw the towers embedded in the skyline every day.”

Pergolizzi feels a responsibility to share the photos with whomever he meets on the West Coast.

“It’s like if you come across a precious stone, you want to show it to everyone,” he explains. “It couldn’t be any other way. I was so fortunate to be there. This has touched the fabric of everyone. There are still untold stories.”

Pergolizzi met the first emergency medical technician to enter the building, morticians, firefighters, victims and even an engineer who helped plan the towers.

Many of Pergolizzi’s photos are startling and disturbing, but beautiful in their portrayal of people who were strangers before the attacks working together for a common goal at Ground Zero.

This was one of the most difficult assignments for Pergolizzi, who stood at Ground Zero shaking continually.

“I tried not to separate myself from the camera, but I’m a human being,” Pergolizzi said.

“All the love and compassion in New York this November …,” he added in a whisper. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Proceeds from prints sold at the exhibition will benefit New York City Police Department workers.

Know and Go

WHAT: “The Big Apple beats on” photography exhibition

WHEN: Wednesday and March 28, 6 to 10 p.m. Slide show at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: Free

INFORMATION: 274-8384


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