New York’s firefighters are renowned across the world for their valor, dedication and sacrifice. Now, they have inspired the acclaimed UK artist Alexander Millar to create a new body of work that honors the city’s ‘Bravest’ and celebrates the qualities that make them some of the most extraordinary working people on the planet.
Taking inspiration from archive material from the New York City Fire Museum, and the Vulcan Society (a fraternal organization of Black Firefighters), including photographs of the 18th, 19th and 20th century firefighter, 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. On view were original artworks in oil and pencil, plus limited edition customized prints available for purchase, all of which have been created especially for the museum in Millar’s trademark contemporary impressionist style.
After a short run at the museum, the show will transfer to the Millar Fine Art Pop-Up Gallery, for an expanded exhibition which will bring together critically-acclaimed work from recent years, alongside his new collection inspired by New York and its working people, from the fire department and beyond.
Millar will donate 20% of the profits from sales of one of his new artworks, ‘We Can Be Heroes‘, to the city’s Fire Museum and the Vulcan Society.
“The New York firefighters are an iconic representation of the spirit of New York in many ways, I am in awe of what they gave and the courage they showed during 9/11 and to this day. I wanted to create an exhibition that shows not only a hero, but also a father, brother, son, daughter, mother and sister. I’m honored and humbled that the New York City Fire Museum has welcomed me to showcase my work there,”
states Alexander Millar.
Alexander Millar is a Scotsman who has built his considerable artistic reputation on capturing the spirit and simple humanity of working men and women living in industrial environments in his native UK, in a characteristic style full of warmth and humor.
He has drawn on this background in his attempts to capture the special atmosphere of New York, a city he has long admired and loved. He is a regular attendee at the annual Tartan Week celebrations, which coincide this year with the opening of his exhibition.
Working in partnership with the Vulcan Society, Millar has been strong to demonstrate the diversity of those who protect and serve the city. The collection will include a commemorative portrait of Wesley A. Williams, the man who became the first African American Battalion Chief in the New York City Fire Department, which Millar presented to the Vulcan Society during the opening night, on April 3rd, 2018.
In addition, Millar will present the city’s Fire Museum with a painting of unsung hero Walter ‘Wally’ Malone, a former Fire Department lieutenant who volunteered at the museum for many years after 9/11. A wonderfully outgoing man who spent many hours with visitors telling them firefighting stories, Wally died last year at the age of 83.
The painting of Wally will become a part of the Fire Museum’s permanent collection.
“Just as the NYC Fire Museum displays firefighter portraits from the 19th and 20th Centuries, Alexander Millar’s work will be viewed as documenting the FDNY in the 21st Century and will be looked upon with great admiration by past, current and future generations. We are proud to sponsor his exhibition and we are grateful for his support of our mission to ‘Educate, Celebrate and Preserve.’” – The New York City Fire Museum
“The Vulcan Society is very excited to be a part of this important project. We are honored that one of our heroes and founder Chief Wesley Williams will be recognized through art to display his greatness. We are excited to have this realistic image of people of color serving their community and hope that this inspires others to embrace this profession and do the same. Thank you to Alexander Millar for your vision and labor of love. We appreciate you in every way. “– The Vulcan Society
Photo credit: Snapped
The Millar Fine Art Pop-Up Gallery is located at 138 Wooster Street in New York City.
About the Artist
Alexander Millar is critically acclaimed for his depictions of industrial cities of the United Kingdom, his work is strongly influenced by the working men and women of the late 19th and 20th century. His subject matter combined with his impressionistic, impasto style has seen him described as JMW Turner meets LS Lowry.
Emotive and dramatic skies and industryscapes are created with a broad colour palette, loose, impasto brush strokes and an almost energetic and frenzied composition. With his impressionistic skies and landscapes, Millar brings to life eras and scenes that were arguably a struggle and a trial; yet his obvious fondness for the time and the people he paints, gives a nostalgic and warm impression of days gone by.
Born and raised in the small mining community of Springside, just outside the town of Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland, Alexander Millar was surrounded by laborers, working men and women, earning their trade in the mills, shipping industries, steelworks or railways.
The importance of these people to their communities and industries stuck with him and they have become the central figures in his paintings ever since. Alexander Millar’s artwork focuses on the individuals and, latterly, the industryscapes in which they existed.
Nowadays, Alexander Millar is a self-taught artist known around the world, he has received great critical acclaim from some of the world’s most respected art critics. His work continues to be inspired by the working men and women of our communities and cities, and over the coming months and years will feature interpretations of 21st-century workers, in Alexander Millar’s unique style.