Two former Bishop residents stationed in Mosul, Iraq, could use help to bring some cheer to the lives of U.S. soldiers through art.
Don Bartron has served in the military in many capacities, including the Marines in Vietnam, and the Army Special Forces for Afghanistan and Iraq. Bartron worked for Fish and Game and the Inyo Sheriffs Department before he left the Eastern Sierra in 1985. He also ran a local martial arts school and married a woman from Mammoth while he lived here.
His daughter, Vanessa, Bonne Bartron, was born in Bishop but no longer lives here. When Don retired from the military, he went straight back to Iraq as a private contractor for Kellogg, Brown and Root. He took his daughter with him this time around.
The two run a facility called an MWR, which stands for morale, welfare and recreation, center in Mosul. This is a place where front line troops can come in, use the telephone, watch TV, and attempt to unwind.
We were put in touch with these two by Bonnes grandmother, Pat Gilbert, who lives at Keoughs Hot Springs. When we spoke to Bonne by phone she described the drab and utilitarian MWR that she is hoping to help the soldiers spruce up with artwork. She and the soldiers have already scrounged some paint, but art supplies are hard to come by in the war zone.
She says she was able to get some paint used to make signs. Along with some plywood, she and the soldiers have already painted a few designs. Some of the artwork was done by single artists, others were done by many soldiers.
For paints, she says that acrylics and oil paints are the best, but if she could get parchment or paper, watercolors would be amazing. Bartron says that the troops would be happy to have chalks and pastels as well. Any medium, she says, to help take their minds off the mundane and create something beautiful out here.
If you can, there are two ways to help. First, you can drop art supplies off with the Bishop MOMS Club. The MOMS Club plans to have a big plastic tub at the Bishop City Hall Auditorium, Labeled MWR Center/Mosul. You can also stop by the Inyo Council for the Arts in Bishop to donate, or purchase a Buttermilk coffee mug made by Bonnes Grandmother Pat Gilbert. All the proceeds from the sale of the coffee mugs will be used to buy art supplies.