Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuee Shows Thanks Creating Fine Art from Fire Ashes and Charcoal; Series to Benefit the Community
Waldo Canyon Fire evacuee and artist Steve Weed has created a series of 20 paintings that infuse his paints with the ash and charcoal left in the aftermath of the June 26, 2012 inferno that destroyed 346 Colorado Springs homes. The fire made national headlines and prompted a personal visit from President Obama.
Several pieces are painted on reclaimed doors, symbolizing the rebuilding of the homes lost to the blaze. Others incorporate items Weed salvaged from the shell of his neighbor’s home, paying homage to the two residents who perished, and the loss of the Flying W Ranch, a 60-year-old iconic and beloved chuck wagon venue, home to cowboy musicians The Wranglers, that burned to the ground as a total loss.
Weed plans to auction the series, titled “Ashes to Art”, on the one-year anniversary of the fire, with all proceeds benefiting the victim’s, firefighters and first responders assistance funds. Until then, he will continue sharing the works at public events, raising project awareness, and helping his community to heal.
“This is what great art does,” says Weed’s wife, a visual information specialist at the US Air Force Academy. “It’s a channel for expressing emotion that many people don’t realize they need until they experience the artworks first hand. When we’ve shown these paintings at events around town, it really affects people. They open up and share their own stories with us – even the first responders do it. It’s powerful. It’s cathartic.”
Weed’s home and studio was spared from the massive horizontal flame vortex that blew over it at 65 miles per hour, engulfing 100 of his near neighbor’s homes before leveling a total of 346 homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Weed and his family experienced a roller coaster of emotion while evacuated, watching and waiting to see if their home, along with his livelihood, had been destroyed. He was very fortunate, but was not unaffected.
On day eight of their 10-day evacuation, residents were allowed back into the neighborhood to survey the destruction. That’s when Weed found chunks of charcoal laying in his front yard. He gathered the charcoal and some ash from nearby to use in his artwork as personal therapy. Then he realized he could also use his talents to help his neighbors, and to thank the first responders he considers heroes .
“I just want to make sure they each know how grateful I really am,” said Weed. “The firefighters put their lives on the line to save my home and the CSPD protected it from looters during the evacuation. Thanks to them, my life is still intact. Now I want to help my community get their lives back intact as well.” Weed plans to personally thank these heroes with a signed print for each.
To view project photos, visit his facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Weed-Fine-Art/167396563309668?fref=ts or his website at www.steveweed.com. Steve Weed has been a professional illustrator and commissioned fine artist for more than 30 years.