2008 - Year Five: Memorial for our Fallen at Wesley Art Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2007 - Aviamericanos at Wesley Art Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2007 - Year Four: Memorial for our Fallen at Wesley Art Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2006 - The Birds of Point Heron at Northwest Design Center in Poulsbo, WA.
2006 - Year Three: Memorial for our Fallen at Max Hale Center in Bremerton, WA.
2005 - The Sixth Day Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2005 - Year Two: Memorial for our Fallen at Max Hale Center in Bremerton, WA.
2004 - Selected Works at Amy Burnett Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2003 - Portraits of Birds at Bremerton Public Library in Bremerton, WA.
2002 - Starlings: Explorers and Conquistadors at Amy Burnett Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2002 - Birds of Bremerton at Amy Burnett Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2001 - Bremerton Centennial at Amy Burnett Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
1999 - Portraits of Birds at Camas in Everett, WA.
1998 - F97 Abstracts at Gordito's in Seattle, WA.
1997 - Thick Ink at Gordito's in Seattle, WA.
1996 - Adidas Babies at Gordito's in Seattle, WA.
2008 - The CVG Show at Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2007 - The Art of Flight at Arts Council Gallery in Everett, WA.
2007 - Bainbridge Island Art Expo at Gadbois Farmhouse in Bainbridge Island, WA.
2006 - 5th Annual Community Show at Metropolis Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2005 - Serious at Kilian Wicks Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2005 - Community Show at Sixth Day Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2004 - 3rd Annual Community Show at Metropolis Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2004 - Old Town Juried Art Walk in Silverdale, WA.
2003 - Select Gallery Artist's Show at Amy Burnett Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
2003 - 2nd Annual Community Show at Metropolis Gallery in Bremerton, WA.
1998 - Chili Chill 5 at Frog Art Productions in Seattle, WA.
1995 - 4th Annual Trapeze Awards at Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, WA.
1995 - 3rd Annual Connecting Collecting Creating at Art Connects in Bellingham, WA.
1994 - Global Cafe at Viking Union in Bellingham, WA.
1993 - In Our Own Image at Viking Union Gallery in Bellingham, WA.
1993 - 28th Annual Ski to Sea Art Show at Whatcom Art Guild in Bellingham, WA.
1993 - 7th Annual Art Show & Competition at Delft Square in Lynden, WA.
2010 - Banners on Pacific for Bremerton 1% for the Arts in Bremerton, WA.
2008 - Veterans Outreach Center in Tacoma, WA.
2006 - Olympic College in Bremerton, WA.
2005 - County Courthouse for Kitsap County 1% for the Arts in Port Orchard, WA.
2016-2017 - Associate for ArtsFund in Seattle, WA.
2005-2006 - Advisor for Bremerton H.S. Art Department in Bremerton, WA.
2005-2006 - Chairperson for City of Bremerton Arts Commission.
2000-2001 - Advisor for Foster H.S. Art & Communication Department in Tukwila, WA.
01/15/10 - Bremerton Banners Bring Local Flair to the Streets by Lynsi Burton, Bremerton Patriot.
03/19/08 - Wesley Counts Into the Quiet of Year 5 by Bill Mickelson, North Kitsap Herald.
06/23/07 - Counting the cost of conflict...and Counting by Bill Mickelson, Kitsap News Group.
01/13/07 - The New Faces of Art by Tracey Cooper, Bremerton Patriot.
09/30/06 - Contemporary NW Art at Wesley Gallery by Shaun Scott, Bremerton Patriot.
09/20/05 - Art Decks the Halls of Remodeled Courthouse by Travis Baker, Kitsap Sun.
10/28/03 - Canvas of Loss by Rachel Pritchett, Kitsap Sun.
1995 - BA in Art from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.
My journey as an artist began as a child growing up in Ohio. We lived close to a patch of woods with a clay-bedded creek. In those woods and in that creek, mother nature always seemed to have something up her sleeve for a curious kid. I was a rock-flipping, crawdad-catching, lightning bug-jarring, cicada molt-collecting, snake-jumping, poison ivy-scratching, tree house-building, wild little thing. It felt as if mother nature and my own mother had both raised me in tandem.
That innocent curiosity from my early childhood soon merged with another growing force in my life; my yearning for adventure and self-identity. I satisfied both of those needs with one activity. I started running, everywhere. Not unlike Forest Gump. Running was my first taste of freedom beyond the neighborhood. With running, I could go anywhere I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, and see more than ever before. I had discovered my first true deep passion in something for the first time, and I liked it. But I soon ran out of new places to see that were within range of home.
To expand my range even further, I tore down and rebuilt my dad's neglected Huffy ten-speed bicycle. The bike was two sizes too large for me at the time, but I rode that bike as far as I dared, in any direction. I rode the pot-metal beast to Kentucky and back one day from West Chester, which for a twelve year old kid with nothing but a faded Campagnolo hat and no map, in the early 80's, before smart phones, wasn't too bad an accomplishment. It was all the fault of that movie, Breaking Away, planting the seeds of cycling to other towns and beyond in my head. I loved that bike like a kid loves their dog. It wasn't until you got up close to it that you could tell that I had painted it to look like an expensive Italian racing bike. I even snuck into a bike race with it once. With cycling I was in charge of my own journey, and more than ever before. But once you get a taste of other worlds, and you like that taste... you have to press on.
After graduating high school, in search of more adventure and hoping for a decent future for myself, I enlisted in the Army as a tank driver. Basic training took me as far as Fort Knox, Kentucky, where I got to meet other kids from around the country. As a recruit, you had to not only learn the regimented ways of the military, but you also had to rapidly learn how to work with each other to achieve a collective goal; a life lesson that has always paid dividends since. After basic training, I was assigned to a unit in Fort Lewis, Washington.
Active duty and driving the tanks was as fun and dangerous as you can imagine. Caring for a 50-60 ton tank is like caring for a baby elephant. Despite their overall might, tanks are actually fairly fragile. All tankers can vouch for this... if you don't skillfully drive them and carefully maintain them, they'll break, right when you don't want them to. Regarding combat, which is always the next question... no, I did not see combat. I did receive orders for Operation Desert Storm very late in the offensive, but was never processed for deployment. So, I am in no way a hero or anything like that. I never used a tank in war, but I did play a lot of war games with them in training. I even got to fire the tank a few times as a guest gunner. Getting to drive and fire tanks in the open desert was awesome.
Upon my honorable discharge from active duty in 1991, I joined the Washington Army National Guard to serve the remainder of my eight-year enlistment. I moved to Bellingham and enrolled in Western Washington University as a business major, and joined the cross-country and track teams. Math, and programming formulas soon got old though. In search of fulfilling graduation requirements for humanities, I discovered that life drawing counted as a humanities credit. So I signed up for my first art class, a pivotal move. Running around the trails and mountains of Bellingham combined with my now legit pursuit of art were both getting the bulk of my attention, and I switched majors. Despite making this move halfway through my sophomore year, I was still able to wring every last drop out of college. I graduated from Western in four years with portfolios in painting, design, and illustration. I was ready for a new adventure.
After college, my roommates and I moved to Seattle. At first, I was struggling to pay the bills with the small amount of illustration business I could drum up. Working with clients like the Bicycle Paper and Events Northwest I was getting published, but making almost nothing. I eventually landed my first contract designer role at Microsoft. Artistically, I also began to develop a legitimate body of abstract work. Back then, a painting could require grand scale for its fullest effect. One painting later, the work could be very detailed and small. I would raid local recycle bins for materials to connect or paint on, and would buy the oops paints (the wrong-color cans at the store) for pennies on the dollar. No matter what else was going on in my life, I always wanted to keep my art alive and flowing. When I wasn't cycling to work, I was on the bus drawing and planning new work.
Throughout the years, design has always kept me balanced. However, the wild side of me would call again. In the late 90's, I was becoming increasingly committed to road cycling. It was a common dream for my generation; the kids that saw Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain winning the Tour de France. In 1999, I took a break from full-time design, and focused solely on my art and racing bikes. In 2001, after reaching the height of my ranking in cycling, and satisfied that I had given the sport my all, I returned back to work and my design career. During this time, I also fired back up my art studio to full production, and was immediately working. The more I painted, and the more shows I did, the more of a following I developed.
My once barely budding art career had seemed to reach a tipping point in just a few short years, and in 2006, I was presented with the chance to open my own art gallery. I restored the interior of an old building a friend had bought and opened an art gallery where I showcased not only my own work, but also the work of other area artists. It was so exciting to see one of my life dreams come true. For two years we were a must-see stop for First Friday art walkers. We had awesome shows with lots of great people coming from the community and beyond. Unfortunately, when the economy began to stall in 2008, and despite community support, we had to face the reality of closing the gallery.
After closing the gallery, it was time to get back to design work. It was also time for a new physical adventure. This time I chose trail and mountain running. Since 2009, I have competed throughout the US and Canada, run course records, and even placed 1st for my division last year (2016) at the US National Trail Championships for 13 miles. While I've been doing all this running, and designing, I have always kept a close watch on my art. Today, I am an active artist and continue to evolve my current body of work. I am also developing new directions of interest and will be sharing those over the next year as I refine their presentation.
Art is a core part of my life, in the obvious ways. However, the way I do everything else, is just as artistic. It's how I've chosen to live my life.