“VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS: Heroes Among Us” featuring photographic portraits and interviews highlighting the complex day-to-day experiences and unique roles of local firefighters, opens Friday, Sept. 6 in the LOFT gallery at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance 37 Main Street, Narrowsburg.
— "VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS: Heroes Among Us" featuring photographic portraits and interviews highlighting the complex day-to-day experiences and unique roles of local firefighters, opens Friday, Sept. 6 in the LOFT gallery at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance 37 Main Street, Narrowsburg.
There will be an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m.
The show, created by Ellen Bay and John Dzwonar from Milanville, runs through Saturday, Sept. 28 with a closing reception from 4 to 6 p.m. to coincide with the Sullivan County fire parade on Main Street in Narrowsburg.
Over the past six months, Bay and Dzwonar interviewed firefighters while Bay photographed them, focusing on 17 men and women at five fire houses in New Yorks' Delaware River Valley, including Callicoon, Highland Lake, Lake Huntington, Lava and Narrowsburg. The group ranges in age from 19 to mid-80s, and includes interior and exterior firefighters and support personnel.
Through images and interviews, the show examines the motivations, values, and shared commitment to their communities of this group.
The conversations ranged from humorous to intense, including such comments as "Last month I had 50 years active as a fireman; they told me the first 50 are the hardest" to the comment, "I prove myself every day, every call I go to...that is part of what keeps me coming back."
The common denominator in the interviews is the commitment to our community and the feeling of being useful. And there is a shared concern about the dwindling number of volunteers due to the lack of employment in western Sullivan County.
In addition to acknowledging the complex roles of firefighters, this exhibit hopes to encourage men and women of all ages to volunteer.
Both Bay and Dzwonar were struck by the firefighters' willingness to share about their struggles in such potentially dangerous work. When not attending pancake breakfasts and chicken barbeques, Bay is a photography student at International Center for Photography and Dzwonar is a therapist in private practice in New York.
Free and open to the public, the exhibit is sponsored by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, the Arts Council for Sullivan County and is made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The Loft Gallery at the Delaware Arts Center is located at 37 Main Street, Narrowsburg. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the exhibit call (845) 252-7576 or visit www.ArtsAllianceSite.org.