Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

I ♥ Firefighters by Melissa Lanitis Gregory

Posted on August 2, 2008
Filed Under Tahoe: Lost and Found

Two firefighter art helmets by Melissa Lanitis Gregory.

Melissa Lanitis Gregory used local firefighter helmets as the molds to create her two art pieces for the Tahoe: Lost & Found Art Auction.

At their core, these helmets are based on community.


Creative Expressions Inspired by Fire:

Melissa began each fire helmet by layering local newspapers, one containing the story of Rick Gunn’s return to Tahoe, on top of an actual fire helmet borrowed from the fire department. Fifty percent of the layers are created using the recycled paper. The pieces are finished with other papers for strength and texture.

“Watching the fire burn, I had this sense of helplessness. There wasn’t much any of us could do but donate clothing. But I remember watching the helicopters dipping into Lake Baron and hollering my thanks up to the pilots… I felt so much gratitude. These helmets are an homage to those people whose job it is to run into a burning forest armed with the courage to fight fire.”

Both helmets are decorated with strips of newspaper clippings from Angora Fire articles. According to Gregory, “‘Reflected in Flames’ (above) represents our strength as a community, as it was mirrored back to us by all of the firefighters who came to help out.”

“Warning: Firefighting is an Ultra-hazardous Activity” (left) is so named because of the warning on the inside of the actual borrowed helmet. Melissa’s helmet includes the warning around the outside edge. “It goes on for a bit. You read that warning and think, no way am I putting that thing on and running into a wall of flames!” But these people do.” says Melissa.

Auction Item:
(Art will be sold at live auction, Sept 19 at Valhalla, with % of proceeds going to the fire-related community projects.) You definitely have to see these in person.

“Reflected in Flames” (above)
Mixed media, 11″w x 15″ (long) x 14″h
$275 Value
Starting Bid: $150

“Warning: Firefighting is an Ultra-hazardous Activity” (left)
Mixed media, 11″w x 15″ (long) x 8″ h
$250 Value
Starting Bid: $125

About Melissa:

Mixed-media artist Melissa Lanitis Gregory came to Tahoe for 4 days…20 years ago.

Leaving her Assistant Art Director job in New York City for a waitressing job in Tahoe seemed like a no-brainer. After years working in the local graphic design/advertising industry, Melissa was given a book on the art of papier mache, and has been creating unusual pieces ever since.

Melissa is also the master-mind behind the lake-wide community art show, Tahoe: Lost & Found, and has just launched her writing career to complement her amazing artistic talents. You can see more of Melissa’s work at

Click here to learn more about Tahoe: Lost & Found and how you can help.

Tahoe: Lost & Found Sponsors

Blue Angel Café and Loft

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Jacke & Cheryl Remax Realty


Sierra Ski & Cycle Works

South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association

Strategic Marketing Group

Tahoe Fracture & Orthopedic Medical Clinic

Tahoe Quarterly Magazine

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

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