Wethli Puts New Mural on the Map

Story posted January 10, 2011

wethli painting
Mark Wethli at work on "Locus."

Artist Mark Wethli has left his mark on some of Maine's most venerable public spaces, creating large, colorful murals for such spaces as the Portland Museum of Art and the Knox County Courthouse.

Now, Bowdoin's A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art has turned his sights to the University of Southern Maine's (USM) Portland campus, where he has created a 9 X 27-foot Percent-for-Art mural at the entrance to the Osher Map Library.

The large, green background shapes in "Locus" conjure the silhouette of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map—a world map flattened to a proportionally correct two-dimensional image.

"This map is also etched, in a repeating pattern, on the building's facade," notes Wethli, "so I thought that including it in the composition was a good way of connecting the mural to the existing structure and to the map library."

A line drawing superimposed on the map is more abstract, says Wethli, and echoes aspects of the low-relief sculpture "Civitas," another Percent-for-Art project he is due to complete this summer inside the neighboring Wishcamper Center at USM.

"The lines in 'Locus' are meant to serve as a pendant to"Civitas," says Wethli, "but more importantly, they remind the viewer of the lines on maps in general, whether roadways, air routes, or other graphic representations of how to get from here to there.

"I would hope that "Locus" may serve as a place-maker and to some extent a way-finder, marking the location of the map library and adding a harmonic expression to the existing architecture."

This is Wethli's third Percent-for-Art project. Through the program, which is sponsored by the Maine Arts Commission, one percent of the construction or renovation cost of any state building (above a certain limit) is dedicated to commissioning a work of art for the building.

wethli locus
A rendering of "Locus," which curves along the light-filled corridor outside the Osher Map Library.

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