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In memory of...
Jamie Reason's tribute to 9/11

by Richard Cowan

  Jamie Reason roughing out a dove for the set.

The headline of our local paper today reads: “Artists respond to September 11…In galleries, books and museums, expressions of loss take form.”

The artists’ efforts described in the article were moving and heartfelt. None, however, moved me as much as the folk art piece I had seen a few days before in the Eastport, Long Island shop of Jamie Reason. I had seen this work in progress several times since 9- 11, but was only partially prepared for the final product.

Jamie is known to the decoy collecting fraternity as a shorebird carver. For the previous 20 years he was well known for the artwork he created in the Native American tradition. The work of Tawodi, Jamie’s Indian name, is still in demand among collectors of Native American art. Presently he is creating birds in the tradition of John Dilley, Obediah Verity and Thomas Gelston. When the tragedy of 9-11 occurred, he was at work on a set of doves he had cut out of cork that very morning.

View of box with open top shows inscribed words and set of doves inside.

“I had been saving an old wooden shipping box that had once held rolls of solder to made a carrying case for a long-planned rig of eight doves,” Jamie explains. “The colors and concept changed that morning. They evolved into a very different piece of folk art over the days that followed September 11, 2001. I did not know for a few more weeks that decoy collector and patron Valerie Ellis, a partner in the Equities Division of Cantor Fitzgerald, had perished on the 104th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center. This rig of doves and its carrying case is dedicated to her and all the innocent lives lost of 9-11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.”

The box is no longer painted in the muted colors used for hunting implements, but is resplendent in the patriotic colors and symbols of the United States flag. A mourning dove with its subtle mauves and grays flies over a field of sunflowers. The colors of that pastoral scene serve to compliment the bunting they adorn. The underside of the cover and all four sides of the box are painted black, creating a slate where the dedications are inscribed.

Jamie’s roots are deeply American. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution through his mother’s side of the family, whose forebears are traced to 17th century colonial Massachusetts. His father’s ancestors are Native American – the Cherokee nation – and English colonists.

View of back with list of names in memoriam.

As he continued to work on the box, Jamie’s heritage began to influence its evolution. His concept grew and he broadened the dedication to include the names of family heroes of earlier times. He has included tributes to his ancestors from Christopher Nicholson in 1637 to James E. Reason in World War II. He proudly highlights participants in the American Revolutions, the French and Indian War, the War of 1812, the Civil War and more. His family history is a kaleidoscope of the names and cultures that have produced the American people of today.

Jamie has consigned this remarkable piece of folk art to the firm of Guyette & Schmidt. It will be sold at their annual Spring Decoy Auction on April 25-26 at the Pheasant Run Resort, held in conjunction with the National Antique Decoy Show, in St. Charles, Illinois. All proceeds from the sale of the box of mourning doves will de donated to the Robin Hood Foundation to aid the families of victims and survivors of 9-11 in the name of Valerie Silver Ellis.

For the complete story, please see the March/April 2002 issue of Decoy Magazine.

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