Arts and Entertainment

Wesley counts into the quiet of Year 5

In the showroom of the gallery her now must close, Don Wesley stands with the paintings he says mean the most to him of anything he’s done artistically. - Bill Mickelson/staff photo
In the showroom of the gallery her now must close, Don Wesley stands with the paintings he says mean the most to him of anything he’s done artistically.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/staff photo

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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 he’s done artistically.

Then at 4 p.m. he’ll begin work on Year 6,”Quiet Counting.”

Info: or call (360) 265-2374.

t Local artist Don Wesley’s Counting Series continues,

but his gallery will not.

Right now, in the front window of the Wesley Art Gallery there’s a sign that says “For Rent.”

It’s 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, the half circle of enormous canvases, 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 can’t commit the time that it takes anymore, but I won’t stop this series,” Wesley said.

Anyone who’s been in the Bremerton art scene long likely knows both the Counting Series and the Wesley. For those who haven’t, check it out at

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 absent of politic until an observer offers his or her opinion concerning the meaning that is behind the acrylic.

But even those conversations have slowed to a halt over the last five years, Wesley said.

“For five years straight I’ve stuck my head in this thing ... it’s not coming back the same way this time,” he said.

When he first started the series throngs of people would come to see the paintings 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.

He said now he’s 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 whether it’s wrong or right, as a good jester does, he’s trying to get them to stop and think.

“How can we communicate with ourselves the implications of our actions?” Wesley asks.

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