This month’s outdoor sculpture exhibit at Four Corners Arts Center in Tiverton brings back the work of an artist featured 24 years ago, in the center’s first such exhibit. Joe Wheelwright passed away last September; the current show of his work, open through October 8, was assembled to honor him.
Joe received his MFA at RISD in 1975. He drew on natural materials, carving stone, wood and bone for pieces that were small at the beginning of his career; years later, his works had grown to 27 feet or more. Some of these monumental pieces were trees that he had carefully removed from the ground, roots intact. Four Corners’ exhibit includes one such piece, Smoke Jumper, which Joe cast in bronze and topped with a stone face that points a steely, unnerving gaze down at onlookers.
Four Corners’ director, Jennifer Sunderland, particularly loves the work called Teen, a stone face that greets visitors at the entrance to the exhibit. It demonstrates, she says, the way Joe could “capture a gesture within the stone” – in this case, the “shy confidence” of a teenager, dappled with sunlight through the trees.