There are champions among us; people within our community and the surrounding areas who fight for our right to enjoy what we so often take for granted – nature.
From 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21, in the lobby of the Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave. in downtown Spokane, some of these champions will offer an inside look into their operations with an exhibit and fundraiser. The exhibit will feature 30 paintings completed in the past three months by artist Wes Hanson. The work represents landscapes and Inland Northwest Land Trust conservation easements in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Half of the proceeds from the art sold will benefit INLT and its mission to protect the region’s natural lands, waters and working farms and forests.
Hanson was born in Detroit where he spent much of his time in nature and nurturing his wild imagination. In 1968, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature. He worked as a teacher and a carpenter in Michigan for a few years and then bought a bike and the gear it would take to travel more than 3,000 miles (he took a scenic route) to attend the University of Idaho. There, he earned a master’s degree in English literature. Traveling by bicycle allowed him to be close to nature. He has also bicycled across Canada. “We live in an enormous and beautiful world,” he said.
For 30 years, Hanson worked as a teacher at Lakeland High School in Rathdrum. He also took many art workshops and filled many notebooks with poems.
He retired from teaching 10 years ago and has been focusing on his creative expressions. He has shown his paintings in venues in Washington and Idaho. Currently, his work can be seen at the Denise Oliver Gallery in Harrison and the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, Wash.
Hanson’s motivation is to bring beauty and awareness into the world. Through poetry and art, he illustrates the fragility and strength, the bright colors and muted tones of the natural world; using words and imagery, he translates his love of nature and his desire to preserve it.
A conservation easement landowner and advocate, he has spent years fighting for the preservation of land and water through involvement in environmental organizations like Inland Northwest Land Trust and Kootenai Environmental Alliance. His home in Coeur d’Alene, a stone’s throw off Cougar Bay and nestled among trees, sits on 160 acres that became the first conservation easement in Kootenai County in 1997. Since then, he has had a hand in saving lands threatened by development including parts of Cougar Bay.
In his poems, he captures the hidden nuances of nature – the apple tree that “does what it does despite pruning,” nesting birds, climbing ants, and salmon throwing themselves with purpose. In his paintings, he honors nature and hopes others might catch on. “The planet is not dispensable,” he said, “and the land is valuable beyond our lives.”