Capturing the moment
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Anibal "Andy" Collazo will be available to meet the public at an exhibit of his artwork Wednesday, June 9 at Penelope's Diner in Brodheadsville.
Penelope's Diner, Route 115, Brodheadsville, is featuring an exhibit of artwork by Anibal "Andy" Collazo, a former member of the Fire Department of New York.
The work is currently hanging in the diner and will remain there through Wednesday evening, when the public is invited to a reception to meet the artist.
A 23-year veteran of the FDNY, Collazo has dedicated his art to depicting the bravery and heroism of New York's bravest on one of the most tragic days in American history Sept. 11, 2001.
"Mr. Collazo's artwork jumps off the canvas and speaks of the bravery, dedication and heroism of these firefighters on that historic day," says Arlene Dunn, owner of the diner, and hostess of the exhibit.
She encourages the public to "come and meet this magnificent artist and view his work." Admission to the exhibit is free and there will be refreshments served. There will be about a dozen works displayed. In addition to firefighters, subjects will include landscapes and animals.
Although he was born in Puerto Rico, Collazo was raised in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, and credits the area, which includes Greenwich Village, with spurring his interest in art.
"I've always liked art," says Collazo. "I did a drawing when I was a little boy about 7 or 8 years old of an elderly woman. They took a picture of it, and the photo was published in the Sunday Daily Mirror."
Collazo still has the clipping.
"I came from a broken home," says Collazo. "There was no real guidance. I didn't get the opportunity to go to art school. At 17, I went into the Marine Corp."
Collazo is proud he still fits into the uniform he wore all those years ago.
While Collazo did not have much time to devote to his hobby while working as a firefighter and raising a family, he did get to indulge his creative side.
One day while on duty at the firehouse, someone spotted him working on a drawing, and he was asked to help with the department's magazine "WNYF" (With New York Firefighters.) Distributed quarterly, the magazine is the official training publication of the New York City Fire Department, and distributed around the world.
He eventually became the art director of the magazine, a position he held for five or six years.
During his career with the FDNY, Collazo earned four unit citations. He worked mostly in East Harlem, at Engine Company 35, and retired in 1991.
After moving to Effort, he worked for a few years in security for the Pleasant Valley School District.
With more free time on his hands, he was able to follow his heart.
"I've been painting for on and off over the years, and the last two years seriously," says Collazo. "I liked to paint and draw since I was a little kid, but never pursued it. Now, I'm almost 72, and I can put a little more time into it. Beside golf and cutting the grass, I don't have enough time now to do the art work I wanted to do."
Collazo says he has lots of ideas that he wants to paint, but much of his subject matter deals with the New York City Fire Department and the memory of Sept. 11.
Although he was already retired, he lost quite a few friends that day. He also mourned the loss of the sons of firefighters he had worked with, who had followed in their fathers' footsteps, but did not emerge from the wreckage of the twin towers.
"I went to a lot of funerals," says Collazo.
Collazo has resided in Effort for 17 years. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Mary Ellen. The couple have two children and six grandchildren, and just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
In addition to painting, drawing and playing golf, Collazo is a big Yankees fan.