The title of Los Angeles-based artist John O’Brien’s exhibition 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 O’Brien’s practice. 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 underscore 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, and, ultimately, inform the viewer’s understanding of the separate parts of the environment as a whole. The images are 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. 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.
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.
John O'Brien, Meander [detail from scale model maquette of Meander], 2012. Ink, acrylic paint, digital photo on matte paper and drawing. Courtesy of the artist and Causey Contemporary, New York.