WESTFIELD - Artist Mark Gillespie suffered a serious stroke at his home in Westfield in December and is now facing a long recovery.
Although he will not be able to attend, an exhibit of his works at Patterson Library's Octagon Gallery is continuing as scheduled, with an opening reception on Friday, Feb. 8, from 7-9 p.m. "An American Music in Art Extravaganza" featuring early works of Mark P. Gillespie and friends will run through March 22.
Gillespie, a masters student in Edinboro University's sculpting program, is currently at a rehabilitation facility in Erie. His brother, Jim Gillespie, has helped bring the show together selecting pieces from his early works.
Artist Mark Gillespie and Nancy Ensign, Octagon Gallery curator, are pictured in the Patterson Library’s Octagon Gallery in February 2011. Gillespie’s works will be on display at the gallery beginning Feb. 8.
Nancy Ensign, Octagon Gallery curator, said it is important to honor Gillespie by carrying on with the show through his recovery. She has asked local artists to contribute to the show in addition to Gillespie's early works on display.
"I chose Mark's closest area artist friends to participate in this exhibit as a personal salute and dedication to his wellbeing and recovery," she said.
Gillespie was not always a full-time artist, although he has created art in various media for many years. During his 27-year career in law enforcement, law administration and the Air Force, he honed his artistic skills and taught himself new techniques. He regularly entered art competitions and won several awards.
Before his illness, Gillespie spoke with Ensign about his motivation.
"Through these many years people always called me an 'artist' but I never was able to fully appreciate this even after winning awards and selling my art," Gillespie said. "After all, I was a police officer and later a paralegal and that was how I put bread and butter on my family table, clothed my children and put toys in their toy box. But I made a promise to myself to one day claim this title as it has always been my desire to be an artist even if it took me 50 years of life learning experiences to get to the point I have reached today."
Returning to school in 2006, Gillespie enrolled in Jamestown Community College as a "non-traditional student." He was awarded a bachelor's degree in fine arts and ceramics in 2010 and is now doing his masters studies at Edinboro University.
"I have found that learning is a never ending journey and I continuously apply Aldous Huxley's model: 'sense, select, perceive, remember, learn and know.' I strive to stave off an insatiable hunger for knowledge that will never be met," Gillespie said. "As I learn more of the ways we process and perceive visual stimuli I find myself being able to visually dissect images in order to more fully understand how and why they were created. This gives me insight into the many artists I consider role model's and their motivation to create. I plan to continue on my current path of becoming an artist for next half of my century until my feeble hands will no longer allow me to capitalize on my inner vision. Life has been good so far, how lucky can I get?"
Ensign can be contacted for interest in art exhibition for the year 2014, or Art Escape programming, at 326-2154 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.