It’s a beautiful sunny day in May and we’re off on a bit of an adventure. We take the ferry to Salt Spring Island to meet our friend, Wesley Clark. We own one of his paintings and we want at least one more for our new home.
Wesley meets us at the ferry terminal and takes us to his new place. He’s carved a space in the woods for a cabin and a studio. The first thing we notice as he drives into the yard is the wooden fish sculpture on the fence. Beautiful, but it wouldn’t fit in our condo.
Wesley gives us a tour of his property. Wesley builds. His wife gardens. Both the buildings and the gardens are works of art in themselves.
We go into his studio and two new paintings—so new they’re not even signed yet—hanging on the wall across from the door snag my attention. They’re dark and gritty and edgy—vertical stripes of black and grey with a few—very few—touches of color.
Me: Oh, I like those.
Wesley: They were inspired by a road trip to Mexico.
Me: It’s the I-5!
Wesley: That’s exactly right. I can’t believe you knew that.
Me: How could I not? You’ve captured the horrors of that drive too well.
And he has. The endless streams of traffic, the dull grays of the tarmac, the guard rails, the minute glimmers of green on each side of the roadway—the monotony.
We move on to see his other paintings. His works are varied. Primitive pieces, landscapes, nudes, abstracts … My favorites are the primitive shaman pieces, but we already have one of those and another would be overkill. We settle on an abstract full of dramatic color, but I’m drawn back again and again to the I-5 pictures.
Do I buy one of the I-5s? No and yes. I do not want the black pictures that so vividly depict the agony of that drive that we did more than once and yet I do. Wesley offers a compromise showing us his first I-5 painting—also vertical stripes, but with more color. They’re not as gritty or edgy, but this picture will look great in our entrance and be a wonderful reminder of the time I instantly “got” a piece of abstract art.