Bradley Rubenstein: I first encountered your work in the late eighties. I remember a painting of yours called Hunters that was quite memorable. It had the impact of something iconic, like an Eqyptian stele or a Barnett Newman piece. The work that you have done in the last several decades has continued to have that effect, in my opinion, and I have enjoyed following along on your trip through painting. Let’s go back, though, for a minute and fill in some of your history. You live and work in Chicago. Where did you study before then?
Wesley Kimler: Alright, well, I left home when I was fourteen years old (and actually if you look on Facebook I posted a bunch of stuff). I grew up in the old South of Market area of San Francisco, living in derelict single-room-occupancy hotels down there.
I didn't go to high school -- I was a street kid, in other words -- but what I made myself do was take music lessons during that time as I was growing up. I studied baroque flute with the idea that I could [laughs] be a classical musician. As I grew a little bit older, in my late teens and early twenties, I was hanging around with a lot of pretty well-known jazz musicians—some really great jazz musicians, like Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw (the great hard bop trumpet player who was a mainstay with Art Blakey for many years) and the whole crowd of the Both And Jazz Club at Divisadero Street in San Francisco, which is where I grew up. I saw how hard their lives were, so i decided to become a painter. It looked more comfortable. It seemed like it wasn't as harsh as making art in a nightclub, with all the heroin and broken lives and so forth. Of course, it's no different, but I thought it would be.