Nearly 20 years of experience with New York’s Bravest has put firefighter Tracy Lewis, of Engine 240 in Brooklyn, in a state of perpetual readiness.
“You never know what you’re going to walk into and face,” she told the Daily News.
Lewis, 45, the second-ever black female firefighter to be promoted to lieutenant in FDNY history, comes face-to-face Tuesday with her own image at “Everyday Heroes NYC,” an exhibit at the New York City Fire Museum.
Lewis’ likeness is among 15 portraits and cityscapes by Scottish artist Alexander Millar, whose work often depicts working men and women. The 57-year-old artist’s paintings and sketches make up his first show in New York.
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“I’ve wanted to paint a collection dedicated to the firefighters of New York and for some time,” he said. “They are some of the most extraordinary people on the planet.
Millar’s subjects are both living and deceased, informed by archival photographs and materials from the NYC Fire Museum and the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters.
The collection includes Wesley A. Williams, who became one of the first black FDNY firefighters in 1919.
Millar, 57, who describes himself as a “pasty-skinned Scotsman,” made it a point, he said, to create an exhibit that celebrated the “valor and dignity and diversity” across the Bravest’s ranks.
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Last year, for first time in the FDNY’s history, more women and black, Latino and Asian applicant filed for the firefighter exam than white men.
The diverse focus of “Everyday Heroes” appeals to Lewis, who didn’t consult with Millar on her painting.
“When I heard that I was part of it, I wasn’t sure how to take it,” she said. “But I’m OK with it. To me, it’s good to have have younger women see other women.
That includes in the field and in command — and, in this case, on canvas.
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Everyday Heroes NYC runs through April 6 at the NYC Fire Museum, and at a pop-up gallery at 138 Wooster St. April 7-20.
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