Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Molly's Turn: Remembering Chuck Wiley

Chuck Wiley
April 28th, 1942 - February 13th, 2017

Our dear friend Chuck Wiley unexpectedly died on February 13th. Chuck was a very talented visual artist and musician. We celebrated Chuck’s life on Sunday, February 26th, with friends and family. The memorial was filled with people whose lives had been touched by Chuck in a positive way. First and foremost were his family, son Bram, brother Bill and his nephews Ethan and Zane along with their families.  Here are some wonderful photos of the Wiley Clan.

Chuck and Fran
The Wiley Clan
from back left: Chuck, Fran, Mother Cleta, Bill, Dorothy,
Ethan and Zane
Chuck's Dad with Chuck
Chuck with son Bram
Brother Bill and Son Bram

He also had his music family, with two different branches, Old Time and Bluegrass. Chuck was an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and singer.

High Country with Chuck on bass.

The Phantom of the Opry
at the Bill Monroe's 7th Annual Blue Grass Festival
Looks like Chuck is singing!

Article on 'Country Pie' 

John Pedersen, Chuck Wiley, Michael Drayton and Perry Fly
The Roadoilers
The Roadoilers were a group of long time friends playing Old Time music
Here's Perry Fly, Chuck Wiley, John Pedersen and Michael Drayton

At the memorial for Chuck some of his Bluegrass friends and family played.
Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozen, nephew Ethan Wiley, and Gene Tortora on dobro.
Not pictured are Paul Shelasky,  his sister on bass and guitarist Joel Diamond.
John Pedersen showed his abilities to swing between Old Time and Bluegrass on banjo.

Some of the Old Time musicians Chuck played with played at the memorial.  John Pedersen, Donley Smith, Tony Crispino, Ned Riley, Jennifer Pfeiffer, Richard Shaw, Martha Shaw, Greg Snyder, Jan De, Perry Fly and Molly Rea made beautiful old time music.  John Pedersen played 'The Parting Glass' as he lifted a whisky for Chuck.
                                           (Hopefully there will be a photo to come)

Chuck had his art friends and his community from his many years of working for George Lucas's special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, where he worked on Star Wars, Indiana Jones and many other movie sets. He'd been considered one of the “Old Men” as someone younger put it when they spoke at the memorial.  

Chuck the mad scientist
Working on a Star Wars ship
 Industrial Light and Magic
Chuck had an aneurism about 12 years ago.
His friends at ILM made this wonderful card.
One of Chuck's ILM co-horts created this box of Chuck

Family members Linda, Elizabeth and Leah, wove his art work and photos along the windows and walls while some of his whimsical sculptures were also on display at the memorial. It was quite an experience to see it all together.

Here's a self portrait

This is such a nice drawing
(please ignore the flying saucer reflection of a lamp)

Box for Gallery Route One Box Show
by Chuck Wiley

Chuck would set up a tableau with his model trains and old toys and then meticoulsly paint them

Here is an example of Chucks wood burning drawings
Chucks guitar card for John and Judy
dear dear friends of Chuck

shaving brushes

shaving brushes
One of Chucks beautifully rendered wooden cars
Chuck collected many different things, he had a large collection of Lionel trains, old tin toys and pins.

Chuck gave this painting to me many years ago, it lives in our living room.
I met Chuck through my friends John Pedersen and Judy Kaufman, and I met John and Judy through my friends Richard and Martha Shaw. So it seems things go in circles. 

Montage with Jennifer, Chuck's wife at the time, Steve Vermillion, Martha Shaw, Chuck,
Molly, and Richard Shaw

Molly and Judy with Chuck and Mike Drayton in background
The first time I met Chuck I was visiting Judy and John at their store Amazing Grace Music in San Anselmo.  I remember Chuck coming into the store on a rainy afternoon wearing a huge black “southwester” type raincoat with his trademark hat dripping rain as he blew in through the door. I looked up from where I was sitting and here was this man striding towards me, it seemed to me he had this glowing aura around him that shown bright. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself and I was a bit blown over! I remember I was in the process of applying for unemployment (a teacher’s aide is always being laid off and rehired) and Chuck took it upon himself to come over to my place and pick me up so he could deliver me to the unemployment office. Then a day or so later, he showed up at my door with flowers and a sweet 1940’s silver pin of a Spanish lady dancing, he wanted to let me know he had to leave to take his mother’s ashes to Washington (by train) but that when he came back he’d like to take me out. Very romantic, all except maybe taking Cleta’s ashes north! We had a tumultuous relationship yet he gave me a lot in the short time we were together. 

Chuck and Molly at Michael Hagsrtrom's memorial 1992

Here we are at Strawberry
Mike Hagstrom (Boscoe), Molly, Chuck, Kay Clemens, Monica, Gretchen, and Bram
Bram's having a good time
Chuck was extremely encouraging to me both in art and music. We spent a lot of time playing together, he helped me reach beyond my comfort zone and showed me it was ok to play around with music. He loved making art and was always excited to show me some new work he had just finished and was always interested in whatever I was painting.
I basked in his glow of approval, I truly loved my time spent with him. 
After our break up I was very lucky to meet my future partner Larry, and Chuck met his soon to be wife Jennifer very quickly after this. I felt extremely grateful and relived to be able to retain my love and friendship with Chuck, our steadfast affection for each other made it easy and it was made richer by including our partners.  I think the irreverent sense of humor that we all enjoyed was a glue that bound us through the thick and thin of life.

Here is a smattering of family photos that take you through his life from young adult to very recent. 

William T. Wiley - otherwise known as brother Bill
and friend Robert Nelson wrote and directed The Great Blondino
which stared Chuck
(a truly surreal movie)

Chuck as the Great Blondino

Such a noble man

Chuck loved to pose with his hats

Chuck will always be with us

Here is the obituray:
Artist and musician Chuck (Charles H.) Wiley left us early in the week of February the 13th.  He was 74.  Chuck was loved and admired for his compassion, witticism, generosity, and loving personality.

A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Chuck worked as a musician with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and Pickle Family Circus in the 1960’s. He starred in the epic avant garde film, “The Great Blondino,” directed by his brother William T. Wiley and Robert Nelson. Chuck worked for many years as a special effects artist on blockbusters, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films for George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic.  He was a wonderful visual artist who loved old toys and trains that inspired whimsical watercolors and beautifully modeled wooden sculptures.

Chuck was an accomplished musician, a walking encyclopedia of bluegrass, blues, old country and folk songs.  He played bass, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo for a variety of bands including the award-winning “Phantoms of the Opry" (with Pat Enright, Laurie Lewis and Paul Shelasky), Butch Waller’s “High Country”, and for many years his was the beat behind the Old Time Music band, "The Road Oilers," with his steady bass and lovely voice.  His band mates -- John Pedersen, Michael Drayton and Perry Fly -- will truly miss him.

He left behind his son Bram, brother Bill, Bill’s wife Mary Hull Webster, sister-in-law Dorothy Wiley, nephews Ethan and Zane Wiley and their families, and his former wife Jennifer Gunn. His prior wife and Bram's mother, Fran, passed on many years ago.  There are so many people to whom Chuck was important.  We will miss him.

     Please feel free to  post your favorite stories of Chuck.