PASADENA, CA – The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is proud to present Los Angeles artist John O’Brien’s Meander on view March 10 to July 28, 2013. The installation title references a literal meandering up and around the Arroyo Seco Parkway, which the artist recounts through this installation, as well as the process of “meandering” at the core of his practice. In addition to photographs taken during walks along the parkway that link O’Brien’s downtown Los Angeles Studio and Pasadena, the installation is comprised of digital and painted underpass images coupled with a freestanding sculpture in which the linear forms of the freeway and the curves of the offramps are registered as quasi letter forms. All of this is fused together into a loosely knit composite visual artwork in the PMCA Project Room.
Juxtaposing large-scale cartographic images of the Arroyo Seco Parkway inset with smaller images of underpasses, O’Brien explores the tension between functionality and reverie that underscores the meandering. Using rational marking systems as a point of departure—from writing to the constructed environment—he charts how those systems overlay the natural landscape, activate the imagination and memory, ultimately informing our understanding of the separate parts as a whole. The resulting visual impact is determined by the artist’s intent to re-create his own awakening to the wonder of this particular “meander,” a moment in which things largely un-noticed or ignored suddenly come into view.
O’Brien freely embellishes the moment with tangents and personal asides so the end result is less a communication of something specific or literal, but rather is aimed at creating a perceptual opening and a refreshed poetic awareness of the world that we navigate regularly without really looking attentively at it.
John O’Brien graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome Italy with an AA.BB. in 1982, he was qualified as a Master Printer at the Calcografia Nazionale in 1984 and obtained an MFA from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 1989. In 2008 and 2010, he had solo exhibitions at Kristi Engle Gallery, Los Angeles. He was also recently included in group exhibitions at Bushberg Project, Newark, NJ, Los Angeles Valley College Art Gallery, Valley Glen, CA, Palazzo degli Scalzi, Sassoferrato (Ancona), Villa Dora, San Giorgio di Nogaro, Italy, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, Samson Projects, Boston, MA, Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA and Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA.
John O’Brien is a recipient of an ARC Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation. This exhibition is supported by the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Museum of California Art.