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updated: 12/2/2011 5:07 AM

Wheaton vet sets up art show for other vets

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  • "I did what the Army taught me," retired Capt. Ken Jacobs said of his art. "Keep working at it until you get somewhere."

       "I did what the Army taught me," retired Capt. Ken Jacobs said of his art. "Keep working at it until you get somewhere."
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • A piece titled "Lust" by retired Army Capt. Ken Jacobs will be on display tonight at a veterans art show.

       A piece titled "Lust" by retired Army Capt. Ken Jacobs will be on display tonight at a veterans art show.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Jacobs, an Iraq War veteran from Wheaton, is organizing a veteran art show and sale at the gallery at Skywriter T-shirts in Glen Ellyn. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. today.

       Ken Jacobs, an Iraq War veteran from Wheaton, is organizing a veteran art show and sale at the gallery at Skywriter T-shirts in Glen Ellyn. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. today.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

Ken Jacobs just needed a way to deal with his memories.

The retired Army captain survived a Humvee blast during the Iraq War in 2003 that injured his wrist and covered his face with burns.

The shock stays with Jacobs today, as he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He acknowledges that when the sun sets, he gets "real jumpy."

The 45-year-old Wheaton man didn't expect much to change when he signed up for an art class at College of DuPage almost two years ago. He just wanted a break from taking care of his young son as a stay-at-home dad.

One of his first assignments was a self-portrait. He's still surprised by the result: a black-and-white image inspired by surrealist Salvador Dali.

"Where did that come from?" Jacobs recalled. "It was the first time I laughed that hard in a long time."

That's when he knew art stimulated his thoughts. He wants other veterans to treat art as therapy, so he's organizing a veterans art show and sale at the gallery at Skywriter T-shirts in Glen Ellyn. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. today.

Jacobs expects five veterans to contribute their work. He also plans to donate the proceeds from selling his pieces to the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

Although he doesn't draw specifically about the war, the influence is always there.

An abstract, two-dimensional piece displaying at the show involved several processes, including cutting and weaving strips of paper until Jacobs was satisfied.

"I did what the Army taught me," Jacobs said. "Keep working at it until you get somewhere. You just keep plugging."

An open mic will also allow the artists to reflect on their work.

"It's an opportunity for informal group therapy," Jacobs said.

And it's an opportunity for the community to honor veterans and their service, Skywriter T-shirts owner Mike James said. He plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from T-shirt sales and the show to the shelter as well.

"We owe it to them," James said.

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