By Rod Bastanmehr
Arts Reporter

D. Scott Wade is in therapy.

But forget about couches and inkblots. For Wade, therapy is about photography. On May 3, the fruits of his self-therapy are being shown in a one-night exhibit called “Birds Don’t Shoot Back.”

Wade, a Santa Cruz native and Desert Storm veteran, will showcase a collection of photographs culled from his worldwide travels — from wildlife during his expeditions to drawings during his time in the Navy.

“I gained my interest while living in Puerto Rico as a youth,” Wade said. “My father had taken a job there and I went to school on the naval base — it was the only English-speaking school around.”

His fascination, however, was inspired by his sister’s boyfriend, a photographer for the Navy.

“I went to the base’s photo lab a lot and got to see just what they do,” Wade said. “I was hooked from that point on.”

Wade served in the Navy for about 12 years, where he met heads of state from around the world, the British royal family and his wife.

It was during Operation Deny Flight in 1993 that Wade began producing art.

“I had been tasked with compiling aerial photography taken over the former Yugoslavia to create an accurate and current map of the region,” he said.

Wade worked with what he had, and unintentionally found himself to be something of an innovator with his medium.

“I found a watercolor felt pen … and played with that on the paper with water washes and created the portraits I have today,” he said. “I had inadvertently created a new medium in art.”

With a wife and two children, Wade bowed out from the Navy in 2000.

“I had been out for most of a year when I decided I missed the Navy and wanted to at least be a reservist,” Wade said. “I joined the reserves on Aug. 27, 2001, and we all know what happened just two weeks later.”

After Sept. 11, Wade was recalled to active duty for the next two and a half years.

Art has been therapeutic for Wade, he said.

“It has helped me to relax and appreciate,” he said. “I think after seeing firsthand how people of the world live, you appreciate what we have here so much more.”

The result of his time is vivid watercolors, displaying simple color pallets. With a high concentration of patience, Wade has concocted a tangible reflection of his emotions. With lucid dream-like movements displayed within his paintings, Wade offers viewers a chance to look closer, which constantly amazes Wade’s friend and informal press agent, Taylor Santo.

“I look at his work and I am amazed by the expressions and movement he captures with each photograph,” Santo said.

Santo, who became good friends with Wade and his family when he joined the Bonny Doon Fire Department, jumped at the chance to promote his friend’s exhibit.

“Scott has the patience to sit still in the middle of nowhere for hours at a time to get that shot which expresses the essence of that moment,” Santo said.

For Wade, taking work from a pivotal time in his life and making it public seems like the next logical step.

“I just had so many people ask, that I thought, ‘Just go ahead and do it,’” he said. “I think it is the next step. It’s stepping beyond the fear of acceptance and just putting your neck on the block and waiting.”

As for the therapy, Wade hasn’t had to turn to Freud yet.

“I think exposing myself through my photography and art will help me to accept myself for who I am and be more creative,” Wade said. “Even if everyone hates everything I do, at least I know where I stand.”

_“Birds Don’t Shoot Back” will be shown May 3 from 6 to 11 p.m. at 140 Dubois St., Suite A, in the Harvey West Business Park._