Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

A love of art, a family legacy

Jean Wood holds a piece of art created by her late husband, Stanley Wood, on display at Area 58, at 3036 N. Monroe St. in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Jean Wood holds a piece of art created by her late husband, Stanley Wood, on display at Area 58, at 3036 N. Monroe St. in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Stanley Wood created in all sorts of media

Stanley Wood never really expected much to come of his creative habits, his paintings and his musings that took the form of a children’s book and one of poetry. He created because that was who he was. Wood died on March 17. He was 77.

He began his life in 1931 in a segregated farm town in Illinois. In the introduction to his book of poetry, “Wood Chips,” he wrote, “I’m happy to say my old town is now integrated.” He also explained how he viewed the world in many colors. “I’ve always been a dreamer, one who looks at life through a spectrum. I see the good and bad in everything and try to cope with what is about me.”

Wood’s mother was an accomplished painter, his grandmother wrote poetry, and his father was a businessman and a politician who also drew. He credited them for his creative genes and he was thankful. “I may not be famous for my creative talents but they have been the source of much pleasure throughout my whole life.”

Wood went to college and then the Air Force during the Korean War. He ended up at Fairchild Air Force Base where, during a USO dance, he met the woman who would become his wife.

“He asked me to marry him after only knowing me for three weeks,” said Jean Wood. “We were married four months later,” in 1952.

He received a teaching degree from Eastern Washington State College and became the first faculty member at Indian Trails Elementary in 1964. He retired from teaching 22 years ago. He then began painting regularly; dozens of paintings decorate the North Side home he shared with his wife, and dozens more lean against walls in his basement studio. An unfinished piece waits on an easel.

His work encompassed many styles, from contemporary realism to abstract. In one painting, geese mingle behind a grid of chicken wire and in another, hundreds of dots make up a landscape. There are fish, lizards, snakes, seascapes, trees, vegetables, birds, and unique worlds. His work is unexpected, the colors surreal.

Wood showed his work occasionally in art shows, including one at St. John’s Cathedral, some street fairs, and at a gallery that used to be in Auntie’s Bookstore. Currently, his work can be seen at Area 58, 3036 N. Monroe St.

“The Woods pulled up in a van. Jean came in and announced that her husband was a great artist,” said shop owner Dennis Grove. “Lots of people stop here saying they’re great artists but usually they’re wrong. Jean was right. I’m honored to be carrying his work.”

Wood also wrote. He self-published a chapter book for middle school children called “Four Eyes,” which is filled with wise observations of what children experience, the good and the bad. He donated copies of the book to grade schools and libraries.

His book of poetry is also filled with wise observations. In his poem “In a Kaleidoscope Mood,” he ruminated, “Life is never fair or just one must steel one’s self for what may come ready to take the bad and hope for the good. A soul should live where one is most comforted not driven by jobs or markets or things to survive, pitted ’gainst place. Does it help to lament, to bitch to complain of such things we have no control over and cannot change?”

Wood found great joy in creating and he left behind great works and great memories. His son Kurt Wood knows his way around tools as does his brother Kevin Wood, and Stanley Wood’s daughter Christy Roys paints and sculpts. Wood’s work is scattered among their homes and the grandchildren have pieces they have created with grandpa.

“One thing I wished my dad would have realized before his passing was that he was an artist and that his works are good and that people appreciated and liked them,” said Kevin Wood. Roys added, “I feel my dad passed his artistic gifts on to me as well as his love.”

Wood’s life’s work was appreciated and what he left behind was a legacy of creative thinking to be passed on to generations.

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. Contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by e-mail

Click here to comment on this story »