Wesley counts into the quiet of Year 5
April 26, 2008 · Updated 11:15 AM
Right now, in the front window of the Wesley Art Gallery theres a sign that says For Rent.
Its a symbol that one man cannot do it alone.
Inside the gallery, there hangs a half-circle of enormous canvases covered with birds, the collective of which symbolizes the same thing.
Ironically, one man has done that alone.
With the Counting Series that hanging half circle local artist Don Wesley has, through his own dedication, with each sorrow-filled stroke, accounted a starling to memorialize each life lost in the first five years of the Iraq war.
As reports file in that this may only be the halfway point, if that, for American forces in Iraq, Wesley vows that his Counting Series will not cease.
I have to close the gallery because I cant commit the time that it takes anymore, but I wont stop this series, Wesley said.
Anyone whos been in the Bremerton art scene long likely knows both the Counting Series and the Wesley. For those who havent, check it out at www.wesleyartgallery.com.
The Counting Series was a major point of debate when Wesley first started displaying it at his gallery near Evergreen Park in Bremerton and on the web in 2003.
Not out of any sense of protest, or morbidness, the Counting Series paintings are a labor of necessity of humanity to Wesley, a former Army man, software technician, fine artist and informed citizen.
The paintings are full of emotion but absent of politic until the observer offers his or her opinion concerning the meaning behind the acrylic.
But even those conversations have slowed to a halt over the last five years, Wesley said.
For five years straight Ive stuck my head in this thing ... its not coming back the same way this time, he said.
When he first started the series throngs of people would come to see the project and share what they thought of the uber-sensitive topic behind the work. E-mails and letters from overseas as well as from home, even a pat on the back from the Brazilian consulate to the United Nations.
Wesley said now hes sensing a sort of complacency.
Those trends of complacency and apathy are disturbing. Reports in the Associated Press noted in polls that only an average 28 percent of Americans were aware that the number dead in Iraq hit 4,000 recently.
With his series, Wesley is not trying to declare just whether its wrong or right, as a good jester does, hes trying to get them to stop and think.
How can we communicate with ourselves the implications of our actions? Wesley asks.
END OF THE COMBAT YEAR CEREMONY
Wesley will be hosting a solemn End of the Combat Year Ceremony and remembrance from 1-5 p.m. March 23 at the Wesley, 1210 Pacific Ave., near Evergreen Park in Bremerton.
The gallery opens at 1 p.m., the newest painting in the Counting Series Promised Counting will be unveiled at 2 p.m., then Wesley will speak on the series of paintings that he says mean the most to him out of anything hes done artistically. Then at 4 p.m. hell begin work on Year 6 Quiet Counting.
Info: www.wesleyartgallery.com or call (360) 265-2374.