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August 19, 2009 > Firefighters make it the Hottest Show in Town

Firefighters make it the Hottest Show in Town

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

They're on the front lines when there are fires to be fought. They are the first to respond to medical emergencies. They are usually involved in community education and public service projects. But though universally recognized as our everyday heroes, firefighters can now be hailed as talented artists as well.

Sun Gallery is celebrating the Creative Firefighter and is proud to host the Second Annual "Hottest Show in Town," a unique exhibit featuring the "Artwork of Firefighters," our heroes. "This exhibit has been a life-transforming event for me, a shift in my awareness and consciousness [about] who and how these men and women show up in the line of duty and in life. I have come to have a deeper understanding and a realization [about] who these men and women are," stated Susan Julie Gonzales, the show's curator.

The inaugural show last summer received entries from eleven artists and showcased firefighting memorabilia. Gonzales had been impressed by the community's support and gratefully noted the gifts received by the gallery including donations from Hayward Local 1909 Firefighters Union, Buffalo Bill's Brewpub in Hayward, Trader Joe's in Castro Valley and local attorney Steve Avilla. She is hoping for a similar response from local businesses this year.

Captain Steve Franklin of Santa Cruz is a poet and a participant in last year's show. When asked about his experience, he replied that when he arrived at the opening not only did he find a warm reception from the gallery staff, great food and refreshments, but also, "my work written out, on a massive poster with burned edges, on a column all to itself. "I was very honored indeed. I know that there are many other firefighters out there who carve, make collages, paint and sculpt. I hope that they eventually get the message and submit some work to [this] great exhibit."

For this year's show Franklin is submitting three poems: The Game of Rugby (the ultimate combat game), The Rescue at the House of Trash (very unusual house fire), and The Great Wine Caper (overturned wine transportation tanker). Audiences will find his poetry laced with humor. "I do believe that life is way too short, and we are way too small in the big picture of things to be too serious about ourselves. Therefore, I do hope people [will] get a chuckle out of my latest stuff. Firefighters use gallows humor to survive some of the things we see and have to do," he said.

"Firefighters, like soldiers or sailors, have a lot of down-time; so hobbies tend to blossom," stated Lieutenant Mickey Quinn, a 24-year veteran of the Oakland Fire Department. Quinn is submitting a two-foot (1/3 life-size) sculpture of an Oakland firefighter. He described his artwork as "in the classical realist style" and added, "I will be exhibiting a plaster version, but will be producing a limited edition in bronze. The sculpture depicts a veteran firefighter that is tired and has seen a great deal of loss and suffering." Quinn has been sculpting for the last five years, but the "Hottest Show in Town" exhibit will be the first to show his work.

This year the exhibit will run from August 22 through September 19, with the opening reception promising to be well attended by the artists, firefighters and their supporters. Quinn's sculpture, Franklin's poetry and an entry coming all the way from Ohio are among twelve that the gallery has received thus far.

There is still space for submissions and active or retired firefighters (including forest firefighters and volunteer firefighters) are encouraged to celebrate their creative sides. Artwork of all mediums will be accepted; artists may drop off two or three dimensional works by CDs, photos, or online website at the gallery to be juried simultaneously.

For more information about the submission process, how to become an in-kind sponsor, and/or if you are a performing artist interested in performing at the opening reception, contact Susan Julie Gonzales at (510) 415-4111 or

"Hottest Show in Town"
August 22 through September 19
Wednesdays through Saturdays
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Opening Reception
Saturday, August 22
1 p.m. - 7 p.m.

The Sun Art Gallery
1015 "E" Street, Hayward
(510) 581-4050

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