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Today’s dedication includes glimpse at one-of-a-kind art

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Several local painters will have their one-of-a-kind pieces displayed at Manteca Fire’s newest station, including the Manteca Artist Guild, New Vision and Sierra High schools, as well as Del Webb ...

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POSTED September 10, 2013 11:55 p.m.

Manteca Fire’s newest station won’t just look like a home featured in the nearby Del Webb community.

For the firefighters manning the station along Lathrop Road, it will feel like home too.

The station celebrates its grand opening today with a dedication and flag raising ceremony. Crews will also begin staffing the $3.5 million station.

Inside, custom canvasses will adorn the walls in public and private spaces. Local artists have rallied in support of the city’s fire service, illustrating their admiration and respect for the first-responders with a series of one-of-a-kind paintings.

The artwork has poured in from all corners of the community at the request of firefighter and avid photographer Traig Smith, from those with the Manteca Artist Guild to students at Sierra High and New Vision, a continuation highschool.

Among the images are the faces of many of the firefighter’s children painted by Patti Barnhart, a resident of Del Webb.

It took Barnhart six months to create eight portraits – seven of Manteca Fire kids and an eighth of Barnhart’s grandson wearing a plastic fire helmet. “That was the deal we arranged with Kirk Waters,” said Bill Barnhart, Patti’s husband.

A former dance instructor in the Bakersfield area, Barnhart painted portraits of the children of crew members that live within the city limits.

“I thought that was a cool idea,” Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters said.

Waters said the significance behind each stroke has resonated with his firefighters. Because of their work schedule and the anywhere-at-anytime nature of the profession, firefighters often go days without seeing their families.

In the case of the firefighters who served on strike teams deployed to the Rim Fire, their time away was measured in weeks not days.

“They come in for 48 hours at a time, away from their families. They miss birthdays and holidays,” Waters said. “They can take off for a couple of weeks sometimes.

“This idea, where you have a picture of the family, it’s pretty precious. They loved the idea.”

Emily Whitaker is president of the Manteca Artist Guild and a driving force behind the effort. She has several pieces on display at the new firehouse, whose design blends elements of practicality with modern-day amenities.

From Whitaker’s brush came “Pride,” a rendition of Manteca Fire’s logo and the words: Professionalism, respect; integrity; dedication; and excellence. That piece will hang in the main entrance.

She also created one of several portraits of Dalmatians, a longtime universal mascot for firefighters.

“It’s cool to be a part of history,” Whitaker said. “It’s important to support our community, especially our servicemen. This says they appreciate art and value local art.”

Del Webb’s Genie Becker painted another, while Kathy Ridder’s Advanced Arts class at Sierra created a four-panel piece of the spotted pups playing in a firefighter’s gear.

The students were invited to participate in the project by the Manteca Artist Guild. Twenty students contributed to the project, Ridder said, with eight volunteering to work through their lunches and after school to make the deadline.

The students that contributed were: Jessica Luca; Janina Pineda; Marissa Cline;

Joshua Villanueva;

Fatima Rodriguez; Kyrstin Riley; Aman Multani; Laura Saldivar; Laura Sanchez; Caitlyn Acker; Nicole Arteaga; Alycia Garza; Riley Johnston; Jela Tallette; Jeanette Gutierrez; Anna Recker; Miriam Garcia; Andrew Hoang; Kyndall Riley; Ana Ramirez.

The portraits of the Dalmatians hang in the front entrance.

“We definitely want to support local art not just within the art guild but the entire community,” Whitaker wrote in an e-mail to The Bulletin.

Still photos by Smith and Bulletin photographer Hime Romero will also be on display, as well as a large canvasses donated by San Ramon reserve firefighter Lucas Hirst and the Manteca Adult School.

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