Better Angels has a place of honor in the main hall of the Baltimore Convention Center. This space is free and open to the public. The real business at Firehouse Expo begins tomorrow, Thursday July 21, with the keynote speech, breakout seminars and the convention floor opening, but there was a steady stream of early registrants today. Here in Baltimore for the first time, many of the visitors will be FDNY firefighters and their families – people who knew these men on the wall.
John and Vinnie are both FDNY firefighters, current and retired. (Vinnie has been my sidekick through the Ocean City exhibit and now in Baltimore and he has three lives worth of stories to tell!). I shadowed them as they went through the wall pointing to one face after another of men they worked with, men they knew, saying “That looks exactly like him.”
As an artist, this was truly a wonderful thing to hear. But I have also learned (and keep learning) that I will never know what it is to see these paintings through their eyes. I will never know the wounds and memories they carry. Better Angels, I hope, will honor not only these 343 men but the entire community to which they belonged.