Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, 1969, MFA
John Wehrle was born in San Antonio and raised all over Texas. Never a gifted athlete, Wehrle compensated by becoming the best airplane drawer in the fourth grade. Finding success with this endeavor he continued a creative path, studying art at Texas Tech in Lubbock, where he was cartoonist for the student newspaper. Commissioned a Lieutenant in the US Army, in 1966 he was chosen to be the leader of the first “combat artist” team sent to cover the war in Vietnam. Paintings from this experience are part of the permanent collection of the Military Historical Division at the Pentagon. Some of these paintings and sketches were featured prominently in an major exhibition of Army Art at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2011.
Following Graduate School at Pratt Institute in New York, Wehrle moved west for a teaching job at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He quit his day job in 1973 and moved to Montana to build a wilderness log cabin. A winter alone in the woods rekindled a latent desire to paint a large mural outdoors in a sunny clime. For the last thirty-five years he has been doing just that - creating public murals and installations throughout California. Some of these monumental paintings have become urban landmarks; others have become victims of time and urban renewal. Wehrle painted two murals on the outside of the DeYoung Art Museum, one on a downtown Los Angeles freeway for the 1984 Olympics and has fabricated installations for Libraries, Firehouses, Schools and Train Stations in California, Washington State and elsewhere. He created a series of signature paintings for Bay Area Biotech Firms and several prominent public artworks for the City of Richmond. Wehrle’s work has been featured in numerous books on Murals and Public Art and a film ”Mur Mur” by Agnes Varda. He currently resides in Richmond, CA with his wife, Susan, a 1944 “Good Enough” Gibson Guitar and two dogs, Bird and Jack.