by Paul Walsh, Fine Art America, 10/21/2007
“My name is Paul Joseph Walsh and I was raised in Newington CT. I had an inherent artist interest and began painting at an early age. I was encouraged by family and art teachers to continue to expand my artistic ability. I also had an interest in firefighting at an early age. I joined the fire service as a volunteer in 1979. After serving 5 years, my love for firefighting transitioned to a career with the City of New Britain Fire Department (NBFD). I’m currently a Deputy Chief with NBFD and a third generation firefighter. I attended Central Connecticut State University for graphic arts and Hartford State Technical College for fire science.
I was inspired by a friend and New York City Firefighter/Artist John Goss to paint firefighters as my subject matter. At that point I combined firefighting and art.”
Mitch: Paul’s tacit knowledge of firefighting, born from his experience is expressed in his artwork in a really compelling and informative way. One can see the level of intimacy Paul has with the chaotic and challenging environment that firefighters operate in and does a great job of conveying it. As an outsider looking in I feel like his work offers a really candid glimpse into this otherwise elusive world. Art has a truly powerful way of allowing another to view and internalize the expressed thoughts of another. In Paul’s case I see and appreciate an intimacy born of familiarity with the subject in the way in which he renders tools and equipment in particular. This gear has a used and familiar appearance that bespeaks a sense of his practiced and familiar knowledge of every square inch of the surface of his fire axe, worn and scuffed from use but ready at a moments notice. More telling is the powerful raw emotion that is conveyed in his fire scenes. It’s a concept few are willing to dwell on, facing our human raw and primal fear of fire, and yet it is a daily reality for firefighters, a reality that is powerfully conveyed through Paul’s art. A simple canvas is adroitly activated in such a way that it becomes a window into a seasoned firefighter’s mind, and that is just one of the myriad reasons that art is incredible and vital.