I started to paint this portrait after September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the tragedy. We were living in a rooftop apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. There we had a 360-degree view of the Statue of Liberty, downtown Manhattan, and downtown Brooklynâ€”without the World Trade Center buildings! You can still see the national flag at half-mast in the Brooklyn cityscape in the painting’s background. I and my wife are looking at lower Manhattan with very deep compassion and sorrow. I spent more time than ever before on details in the background because of the time we had lived through. I feel the whole city of Brooklyn like a valley within me, a memory without words. The pride of New Yorkers is based in fortitude, and the nation is united as a family with love. Portraits are about memory, about the times and places in which people live. I tried to finish this painting in 2003 but finally finished it in 2005.