UK artist creates series honoring NYC firefighters


Courtesy of Alexander Millar

NEW YORK – Renowned throughout the world for their valor, dedication and sacrifice, New York City’s firefighters have inspired the acclaimed UK artist Alexander Millar to create a new body of work in their honor.

Taking inspiration from archival material from the New York City Fire Museum and the Vulcan Society (a fraternal organization of black firefighters), including photographs of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century firefighters, Millar has created a collection of portraits and cityscapes that show respect, humor and warmth for the everyday heroes of the city, communicating a strong sense of the people behind the uniforms.

Millar launched his new collection, Everyday Heroes NYC, at the New York City Fire Museum on April 3rd. Special guests were able to view original artworks in oil and pencil, all of which were created especially for the museum in Millar’s trademark contemporary impressionist style.

After a short run at the museum, the show will transfer on April 7 to the Millar Fine Art Pop-Up Gallery, located at 138 Wooster Street in Soho, New York. It will become part of an expanded exhibition that also includes critically acclaimed work from recent years.

Twenty percent of the profits from sales of one of his new artworks in the Everyday Heroes series will be donated to the city’s Fire Museum and the Vulcan Society.

Some of the paintings include:

A portrait of the late Wesley A. Williams. Born in Manhattan in 1897, Wesley A. Williams became only the third African-American to join the New York City Fire Department, at a time of segregation and discrimination. He became the first African-American to rise to officer’s ranks when he became a lieutenant, in 1927. He retired in 1952 with the rank of battalion chief.

​A portrait of Tracey Lewis. She’s the second-ever black female firefighter in the department’s history to be promoted to lieutenant. Lewis has been a firefighter for 17 years, starting off as a cadet. She was an emergency medical technician and later worked on Engine 222 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Currently, Lewis is the currently the only woman of color serving as an FDNY officer.

A portrait of the late Keithroy Marcellus Maynard. One of the few African-American members of the FDNY, he joined the Vulcan Society, a group of firefighters who travel to predominantly black neighborhoods in an effort to recruit more African-American members. He became the youngest member of its executive board, helped hopefuls train for the written and physical exams, and inspired many to join the force. On September 11, 2001 he lost his life in the line of duty at the World Trade Center.

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