Fire Apparatus Becomes Art Display

Would you have a hard time finding a fire engine in a field of wildflowers? Well in the depth of the Rocky Mountains this summer it could happen. Four agencies in the Roaring Fork Valley ; Aspen Fire, Snowmass-Wildcat Fire, Aspen Ambulance and Mountain Rescue Aspen have teamed up with the non-profit program Portraits of Hope to create a huge rolling art display created by local children, many of whom are disabled or have life threatening diseases. Over a period of three months 2,000 kids were provided with huge custom printed vinyl stickers covered with the outlines of flowers (the official symbol of Portraits of Hope) which they then painted by hand in a variety of colors. Specialized paint brushes have been designed by Ed Massey (one of the founders of Portraits of Hope) such as the “Foot Brush” for those who are unable to use their hands and arms, a “telescoping brush” for those in wheelchairs or are attached to IV’s and the “fruit flavored brush” that can be held in the mouth for those who have limited movement in their limbs. These stickers were then coated with a weather resistant varnish and every emergency vehicle in the valley was wrapped; a total of 35 vehicles between the four agencies.

Why flowers? The Portraits of Hope Web site ( quotes, “The flower is a universal symbol of joy, life, youth, beauty, renewal, and the environment and is a design theme that is integral to the project”. The object of the program is to provide the children with the empowerment of being involved in a large scale art project that will be viewed by people from all over the world on some of the most recognized vehicles in the world. Aspen-Snowmass is an international destination and the pictures and memories of these vehicles will circle the globe. While in the painting sessions the participants are also challenged with discussions about social issues that affect them as kids and society as a whole. Subjects vary from school bullying and peer pressure to war and the economy.

This project is just the latest in a series of large scale art projects that Portraits of Hope has been involved with over the years. Other recent projects have included wrapping the hoods and trunks of all 5,200 New York City taxi cabs and all of the lifeguard stands on the Los Angeles County beaches. Proceeds from each project are used to help fund the next project which occur about every two years.

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