The idea for the mural surfaced when Firehouse #1 was relocated to make way for new development, moving to Howard and Folsom, where the view of the side of the building amounted to—as Nunnelly puts it—“a drab view of nothing inspiring.”
Mike Petricca, the Academy’s vice president of Campus Safety and Lab Resources, decided to get involved. Petricca contacted Daniel Gracia, vice president of Local 798 and a firefighter at Firehouse #1, with an ambitious proposal: Create a mural representing a timeline of the three buildings formerly occupied by Firehouse #1.
Fine Art Executive Director Craig Nelson approved the project, and a committee of firefighters was formed to organize it. Their goals: Develop designs, oversee the painting, attract visual interest by highlighting the history of Firehouse #1. The work was all the more timely, according to Nunnelly, given the SFFD’s 150th anniversary in 2016.
Student contributors included alumni Christopher Austin (BFA Illustration, 2016) and current Fine Art BFA students Aiwen Chen and Na Rae Lee. Of particular interest in making the collaboration a success were the special skills each student brought to the project, says Nunnelly. She cites include scale drawing by Austin, blocking colors by Lee, and the painting expertise of Chen.
“Additionally, to make the team complete, we were aided by the expert help of Fine Art faculty member Tomutsu Takashima,” Nunnelly remarks. “His direction in creating lifelike portraits of actual firefighters from Firehouse #1 was invaluable.”
Other volunteers included Melinda Mettler, associate vice president and online student coordinator; Illustration and Fine Art instructors Camille LaPointe Lyon and Melinda Mezzetti; Fine Art alumni Therese Morgan and Derick Moore; and Fine Art student Alumis Cougan.