Homeless White Center Couple Dreams of Selling Dream Catchers
by Margaret Ryan
There is no shortage of excellent Native American artists in the Pacific Northwest.
When I ran into a native woman in a parking lot the other day, she gave me a big smile and “hello, how are you?” as she saw me taking pictures of a mural in White Center.
I started talking to her and asked her if she knew any native artists. She grinned and pointed to a man standing nearby.
“He is – he’s my boyfriend.”
The boyfriend, Wes J, turned out to be a first caliber Lakota Sioux artist and maker of “dream catchers.” He left the Reservation at Pine Ridge, S.D. in 1999 to seek his fortunes in Seattle. The two of them, Janelle and Wes, had met years ago, keeping their relationship ‘friendly’ until both became free to date.
They have spent the last year or so living as homeless people in White Center, spending their days in the library and their nights outside. Wes used the library to pursue his artistic work, until he had to put his materials in storage and now cannot afford to retrieve them. Wes says his dream catchers sell easily as prized items. When he had a website and a team of fellow artists to help produce his artwork, he garnered orders for 300 or more pieces.
Unfortunately, his team abandoned him and spent all their money after earning their first paycheck. Wes could not fill the orders by himself, so lost a good part of his livelihood. He has fallen on hard times since, but has not lost his hope of getting his materials and supplies out of storage, setting up a new website, hiring a team of assistants, and even having his own small booth or storefront.
Wes encouraged me to see some of his art on display at the Chief Seattle Club in downtown Seattle. He drew this picture for me as we talked (click image to see larger version):
For anyone who would like to contact Wes J, he has a message phone at the Chief Seattle Club: 206-292-6214.