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.
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 years he has been doing just that- creating public murals and installations throughout California. Many of these monumental paintings have become urban landmarks. He painted two murals on the outside of the DeYoung Art Museum, one on a downtown Los Angeles freeway for the 1984 Olympics held there and has fabricated installations for Libraries, Firehouses, Schools and Train Stations. 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,, as well as a Film”Mur Mur” by Agnes Varda. He currently resides in Richmond, CA with his wife, Susan, a 1942 “Good Enough” Gibson Guitar and a dog named Bird.
Inspired By: Edward Hopper, Pieter Breughel, Richard Diebenkorn, Marcel Duchamp, 19th century painted panoramas
I have had a celebrated career making art in public places. This work is still exciting to me, but I have been concentrating more on private visions and working to hone my craft. Currently I am working on a series of painted wooden sculptures about tool using animals.