Meander with John O’Brien

Jun 11, 2013

John-OBrien-MeanderJohn O’Brien likes to meander. And so he does.

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. 

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. 

This Sunday, O’Brien will talk, then invites his audience (father’s get in free in honor of Father’s Day) to meander with him from the Pasadena Museum of California Art to nearby sites—bringing to attention public works and city features that are easily overlooked, such as the Robinson Memorial…

Photo by Howard Cole/LA Weekly

Photo by Howard Cole/LA Weekly

…public works by Kim Abeles and Michael C. McMillan at the Armory, the Robert Irwin piece at the Police Station, and graffiti at the Metro.


“Meander” Insight Talk with John O’Brien
Sunday, June 16th, 3 p.m.
Pasadena Museum of CA Art, 495 E. Colorado Blvd. 91101
Free with the price of admission

Leading image: John O’Brien, Meander (details 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.

Editor’s Note: Do you know about Pasadena’s artsSearch? See the enormous amount of public art displayed around the city, like the laser-cut steel fig leaves with porcelain enamel finish with changeable lightboxes by Kim Abeles on north Fair Oaks. Or, 3,000 handmade, glazed ceramic tiles in a geometric abstraction by Ralph Bacerra on Colorado Boulevard. Did you know that two drinking fountains at Memorial Park were designed by Ernest Batchelder?  For a complete listing visit

"Kaloseidos" by Ralph Bacerra

“Kaloseidos” by Ralph Bacerra

"Puka o ka moku" by Billy Al Bengston, 151 E. Holly Street

“Puka o ka moku” by Billy Al Bengston, 151 E. Holly Street





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