After working with sand-cast plaster techniques in college, Jon looked for materials capable of withstanding outdoor conditions. In the late 1970s he began fabricating armatures using wood, steel and wire mesh and applying a cement outer coating to create ferrocement sculptures
The airiness and transparency of wire mesh showed potential on its own, however, and prompted early experiments with structure, form, and function. These experiments were also stimulated by his ladder series of constructed wood sculptures that played form against function.
Transparent Cube, 1977, wood & wire mesh, ~36"h x 36"w x 36"d
Transparent Sink, 1977, copper pipe & wire mesh, ~36"h x 24"w x 18"d
The early experiments above led to further explorations in Madison, Wisconsin with sculptures leveraging mesh texture, moiré patterns, and color, initially on the wall and then as freestanding works.
Sails, 1979, steel rod & wire mesh, ~36"h x 42"w x 10"d
Painted Lady, 1979, rod & wire mesh, ~78"h x 36"w x 15"d, in Wingra Park, Madison
Grant projects (see public art) stimulated Jon to think further about space and surroundings, leading him to a more architectural style anticipating direct physical interactions with open and airy structures. Working initially with tabletop pieces such as these shown below, he invited viewers to move through these works in their imaginations as models for constructions in public spaces while standing remaining accessible and visually appealing sculptures in their own right. These pieces attracted local interest and were sold through the Garver Gallery in Madison; one was acquired by the Madison Art Center, now the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art or MMoCA.
1980, Diamond, rod & wire mesh, ~15" x 18"x 5"
1980, Half Arch, rod & wire mesh, ~18" x 20" x 15"
1981, Pleyben Cross, rod & wire mesh, ~18"h x 20"w x 12"d
An invitational Art in Site show at the Wisconsin Memorial Union Gallery offered an opportunity to create a full-scale wire mesh sculpture, called Aviary. Following display at the Madison City-County Building, the City of Madison purchased Aviary for future installation in a public park.
Aviary on temporary display in Madison's Wingra Park. With Jon back in New England, a permanent installation was never arranged.
Wire mesh continues as an active sculptural medium, and Jon looks forward to extending recent large-scale work in aluminum using transparent and semi-transparent perforated metal for outdoor durability.
1981 & 2020, Overlay, steel rod & wire mesh, 21"h x 10"w x 13"d
1981 & 2020, Chairscape, steel rod & wire mesh, 21"h x 15"w x 11"d
2020, Totem (unpainted), steel rod & wire mesh, 82"h x 19"w x 34"d