Mark Wethli's latest project, "Piper Cub," is both a tribute to his father, Ralph Wethli--a retired flight engineer for Pan American World Airways, who restored and flew a Piper Cub 50 years ago, when the artist was a boy--and a formal exploration of aerodynamic form. To complete the project, Wethli's father worked on the plane with him in the final stages, providing hands-on help and advice with the plane's construction.
Conceptually, Wethli was also interested in how a full-scale, non-flying airplane eludes interpretive categories, working as both a model of an actual Piper Cub but also, perhaps, as a prototype for the plane as well; it's idealized, platonic version. Like objects in a Magritte painting, "Piper Cub" is intended to question conventional notions of meaning and identity by posing the question of its own identity along a scale from the real to the ideal.
Best known as a painter, muralist, and public artist, "Piper Cub" is also Wethli's first work of sculpture. An established representational painter for many years, his work turned toward geometric abstraction in the late 90's, but has continued to explore similar themes of light, color, geometric form, and the elusive nature of both meaning and the moment.
"In all cases," says Wethli, "my work is an effort to throw viewers' attention away from the object--or through it--into an awareness of the un-noticed or un-nameable aspects of perception and consciousness."
Click on the images for an enlarged view and a caption. In the viewer mode, click on the image or use the N and P keys to view the Next and Previous photos.