the solemnity of wonderment

Entering into the art of Wes Bruce is a transportation.

Some visitors feel they are venturing into realms of forgotten memory, others like surveyors into the secret life of another. When I am exploring the art of Wes Bruce I feel as if I have returned to the world of my childhood mind.

I think that every child is a born explorer. I find that it is an inspiration to work with children as they navigate this very new thing called life. When I am exploring one of Bruce’s forts I am reminded that, just like a young child, as G.K. Chesterton writes, “We do not need fairy tales: we need only tales. A child of seven is excited by being told that, ‘Tommy opened the door and saw a dragon’. But a child of three is excited by being told that, ‘Tommy opened the door’. Boys like romantic tales but babies like realistic tales – because they find them romantic”. I am free to remember that true life, TRUTH itself, is romantic. Children, like miniature scientists, are forever prying into everything, and this is what we are encouraged to do in the art of Wes Bruce. To children every passage is a secret passage, every carpet a magic carpet, every animal a fabulous monster, every walk a South Sea Voyage of discovery.

We are reminded, within these simple structures built with  wooden crates and filled with someones treasure and another someones trash, of the gift of wonder. Without wonder the spiritual life atrophies. Within the fort we are also given the time to remember how to admire. As a modern writer says, “To admire something is like a stream of fresh water, flowing over the soul’s surface. Children are so happy, because for them, there is so much to wonder at. The deep solemnity of their untarnished eyes is the solemnity of wonderment. Woe to the man who has nothing to wonder at!”

Sail on, dear explorer, “whose exterior semblance doth belie thy soul’s immensity.” Sail on in your wonderful barque with its five senses- and its intrepid captain- the intellect.’ (E.M. Standing, in the book Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, 1984, 103-5).

Wes’s work has been featured in several galleries across Southern California, including his most recent project, at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. “Leveled: An Interactive Experiment in Art” that exhibited a fort built in honor of a woman named Miss Augustine Greane. A wooden panel adjacent to the entrance of the artwork describes her as “one of the 20th century’s most curious, unfathomable, unexplainable, and wonder filled individuals.”

Through the entry hole a person must crawl, shuffling over weathered carpets, tinkering past toy pianos, shelves of dinosaur figurines, gathered straw and sheep wool, aged photographs, and shelved mosaics of empty glass jars. These nooks, crannies, hidden staircases and second stories are her life and her loves, Miss Augustine’s history incarnate.

“This is a summary of everyone, everything you’ve ever experienced, and the memories you acquire overtime,” said Bruce.

“We make maps of lands we’ve yet to love” and “Déjà vu grew like a garden in her fertile mind.”

A friend of many years that still surprises me with wonder and curiosity. Read more here:

More insight (Wes’s own tale about Ms. Augustine Greane)

More Wes Bruce Art


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