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September 7, 2010 > Hottest Show in Town

Hottest Show in Town

By Mona Shah

They're on the front lines when fires are fought. First to respond to medical emergencies, they are heavily involved in community education and public service projects. Universally recognized as everyday heroes, firefighters can now be hailed as talented artists as well.

Sun Gallery, celebrating the Creative Firefighter, is proud to host the third annual "Hottest Show in Town," a unique exhibit featuring the "Artwork of Firefighters." Watercolors, photography, and other mediums will be included. A memorial installation dedicated to the firefighters who gave their lives in service at the September 11, 2001 Twin Towers disaster will be installed by Shanna Kuempel.

Some of the artists exhibiting their works are Mark Brady, Steve Franklin, Edward Gervasoni, Shanna Kuempel, Justin Lorimer, Micky Quinn, Robert "Woody" Rich, and Allum Ross.

Mark Brady has 35 years of Fire/EMS experience and has served as Prince George's County, Maryland's Public Information Officer for the past 18 years. "I found it necessary to document incident scenes to post the actions of our men and women to help tell their story. I have found that my best images are not of the scene with a mangled vehicle or fire blowing out of the windows of someone's home, but rather, the unique images created during and after the incident," states Brady.

Mickey Quinn recently retired from the Oakland Fire Department, where he served for 24 years. He is now devoting his energies to the pursuit of classical realist sculpture and spending time with his two grandchildren. Quinn will have a bronze sculpture on display at the show.

Kenneth Miller grew up in San Francisco. He lived there until 1994 when his grandparents' house burned down. Forced by circumstance to move back to his mother's in Oakland where he was born, little did he know that later Oakland would give him a chance at becoming a firefighter. Currently, Miller works for East Bay Regional Parks as a Park Ranger II and Firefighter/EMT. On his "off days," Ken enjoys painting, mining, stone cutting, making jewelry, and making music. When asked about where his inspiration comes from, Ken replied, "I draw my inspiration from life, pain, ancient cultures of Africa and the Native Americas - but mostly they're pictures in my head".

Since photographing a wedding at the age of nine, Allum Ross-Ndiaye has demonstrated a natural talent for capturing emotion and spirituality on film. Ross has studied and worked in all aspects of photography through four years as a combat and press photographer for the US Navy. "I don't take pictures. I capture the essence, the spirit and the wholeness of human beings. To me being able to take a little box and have the way I hold it and the way I use light in the moment that I release the shutter to capture the image and have that image affect people's lives forever is the most important thing," states Ross-Ndiaye.

Ross-Ndiaye blends his passion for travel and photography into a form of photographic ethnography (photo-ethnography). He travels the world to document people's lives and stories to promote awareness, compassion and understanding of the human experience, in particular within indigenous cultures and the African Diaspora.

Robert "Woody" Rich has been with the Oakland Fire Department for 25 years. When he was young, he didn't think about growing up to be a firefighter, he wanted to be an artist. As long as he can remember, he always loved to draw, and be creative. "I always had a drive in me to express myself through sketching, painting, and woodworking. To see things differently, and capture what I believe to be the essence of my subject matter. I would love nothing better than to have formal training in the Arts. I hope to accomplish this when I retire, and eagerly await where that journey will take me. The possibilities are endless in the art world, and I believe I've only scratched the surface," says Rich.

This year, Hottest Show in Town will run from September 8 to October 2, with the opening reception promising to be well attended by the artists, firefighters and their supporters. The show is curated by Susan Gonzales and a reception is scheduled for Saturday, September 11, from 1 p.m. to 5p.m.

For more information, contact Susan Julie Gonzales at or

"Hottest Show in Town"
September 8 to October 2
Wednesdays through Saturdays
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Opening Reception
Saturday, September 11
1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

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

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