Randy Ford Author- SHIELD OF DAVID AT THE GATES OF OLD JERUSALEM BY ARTIST/ARCHITECT NEIL BERNSTEIN
The world can be a dangerous place. It has been for artist/architect Neil Bernstein and has been a theme throughout his work. He hasn’t been afraid to take risks, and sometimes it’s cost him dearly. And this couldn’t be truer than with his 9/11 work and his GOLDEN GATES BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED BORDERS. It might seem strange that a work of art could stir such passion in a person that he would attempt to murder the artist. But this is what happened to Neil in Santa Fe in 2008. Whatever is left in him now has yet to emerge. It will, and now we have encouraging news. Sometime in November or December of this year, Neil will resurrect (near the gates of old Jerusalem) THE SHIELD OF DAVID, an enormous 40 foot steel shield with World Trade Center ash, which originally was the key piece of sculpture at the ART RISES FROM THE ASHES Exhibition near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.
Neil has written with great passion about his work, and why the resurrection of THE SHIELD OF DAVID in Jerusalem has great significance (as a talisman), particularly in light of recent events … and in particularly the nuclear threat of Iran and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Red Line. His words are much like his art, and here is an example: “The dark powers have made it clear that they intend Armageddon. They have publicly stated that nowhere in the United States or Israel will be safe from us. The Prime Minister has drawn the red line. These are dark powers that we cannot reason with and who make it their mission to murder Jews and Americans. It is time for those of us who have great military, prophetic and spiritual power to step forward, stand tall and dissolve our enemies. Israel must be protected, and I intend to make that happen with all of the energy and resources that I can gather. THE SHIELD OF DAVID will be resurrected outside the gates of old Jerusalem. This will be a mammoth reincarnation of what we built near Ground Zero in 2001. It will contain the supercharged human ash of the World Trade Center.”
The project will be launched at a Genius Celebration from Seward Johnson’s GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE in Hamilton, New Jersey. J. Seward Johnson Jr. has been described as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist and was the founder of GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE. Neal asks everyone’s blessing for the SHIELD’s exodus to Jerusalem. The exact date of the launch will be announced soon.
Neil’s courage is unassailable. His huge GOLDEN GATES BRIDGE OVER TROUBLE BORDERS art piece was destroyed six or seven times by anti-immigration radicals. They tried to intimidate him over and over again, and it didn’t stop until someone ran him over with a truck. He was standing on a sidewalk. If without considering all of his work we try to understand why Neil would give so much of himself, it may make one shake his or her head, but he has always taken incredible chances.
Neil’s work should be ours (belong to the American people) from now on … and not destroyed by someone who disagrees with him. And all of the details of Neil’s life and quirks can be laid out for us, but they are insignificant compared to his work. His work has received attention around the world, attention it deserves; however this is insignificant compared to the affect it has on the viewer. It always has a lasting impact.
Neil is bold and can not be ignored. In fact, I challenge his detractors to take a second look, and though he or she may not like what they see, and try to argue about taste, they won’t be able to ignore him. Whatever one bestows on his work … as a critic … or as someone who simply enjoys art … one has to agree that Neil has earned an unique place in the history of contemporary art.
It is not by accident that Neil finds his subject matter where we hurt most. And who among us haven’t been moved by the deaths of the holocaust, 9/11, Katrina and the immigrants crossing the U.S./Mexican border, and if nothing else … and there is much more … Neil’s work is a reminder of these individuals. And Neil has gone even further … and like no other artist I know of … by incorporating in his art the artifacts, ash, and blood of his subjects, and by so doing he has given us talismans when we need them more than ever.