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Turning the backyard into a gallery

HANSVILLE — Driving on Hansville Road, some residents may have noticed colorful collages that have been nailed to telephone poles and other freestanding structures the past six months.

Are they trail markers? Are they supposed to represent something? Are they conveying a message?

Nah — they are just a way for local artist Joseph Jethro Jackson Wartes to express himself.

The 1996 graduate of Spectrum Community School has been creating these “trash collages” out of discarded materials for several years.

And Hansville isn’t the only place that’s been tagged — wherever he lives for a period of time, whether it’s Ohio, California, or his current location, Tucson, Ariz., he creates the pieces and posts them wherever he feels.

“It just occurred to me one day that was the most direct way to share,” Wartes said. “Then it just became this fun thing I do.”

He is primarily a painter and sculptor and has been trying to develop a body of work for the last decade. Collages have been something he does on the side.

“This was a way to make myself feel like I would be doing something other than stockpile paintings,” Wartes said.

He agrees they look like street signs, as some of the materials he uses include letters. In the Hansville area, he posted them along Hansville Road, just south of the valley; at the corner of Point No Point Road and Hansville Road; on driftwood on the beach; and along the trail at Point No Point County Park, at the end of Gust Halvor Road. In fact, he nailed a piece to a pile of wood deep in a ravine within the park but where it could still be observed from the park trail to the beach. However, and to his surprise, someone climbed down there and stole it, he said.

While some of the collages tend to look aged, he said the 10 or so pieces posted around Hansville were put up within the last six months and it’s just the natural worn and torn look of the materials that give it the aged look. If the metal from the nail rusts and becomes a part of the collage, that would be nice touch, he said.

The idea of abstract collages is one of the contributing factors for inspiration for these works, he said, comparing them to an unattended billboard, when letters fall off and the paper is torn due to Mother Nature. Or like on public walls, where promotional posters are hung and they become worn over time.

He also has another piece of public art on display but you have to know where to look to find it. Located on his parent’s property in the valley south of Hansville proper is a large “three-legged fish body, horse-headed mosquito.”

While headed north on Hansville Road, looking diagonally to the left across the valley, observers should be able to see the large sculpture in front of the woods.

“I did it there on purpose so it looks like it’s walking out of the trees,” he said.

More of his art is on display at Sheila’s Bay Cafe in Poulsbo, where he was a dishwasher during the six months he lived in Kitsap earlier this year.

His mother, Kathy Wartes, said her son would just get started on a project and hang it up and display it whereever he could.

“He just loved doing that around his home,” she said. “He just hangs his art wherever he lives.”

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