The Abita Springs Hotel presents the inaugural exhibition in its Ann O’Brien Gallery, Ann O'Brien: Process + Paintings. In honor of the gallery’s namesake, the show features selected work by renowned local artist, Ann O’Brien (1951-2006). The exhibition will be on view from March 17 - May 11 by appointment. The gallery will be open all day during Busker Fest (March 24) and the Whole Town Garage Sale (March 30). The opening reception on Sunday, March 17th from 6pm to 9pm is free and open to the public.
Known primarily as a jewelry artist, O’Brien was also a prolific painter, particularly during her years as an art student at L.S.U. in the early 1970s. This exhibition brings together for the first time O’Brien’s early watercolors and her Art Nouveau-style silver jewelry. The expressive shapes and strong linear qualities apparent in both media suggest a career-long exploration of the tension between organic and geometric forms.
Along with the watercolors, sketches from O’Brien’s notebooks illuminate the artist’s visual process of jewelry design. The tools and worktable on display in this exhibition--on loan from O’Brien’s studio--are evidence of the physical process of labor behind each delicate piece. Together with the press releases, letters, and other collected ephemera, these artifacts allude to a design process that was at once intuitive and calculated, a form of fluid expression and pragmatic craftsmanship.
Today, O’Brien’s jewelry designs continue to be crafted in her studio by her former collaborators. Contemporary silver jewelry is available for purchase at the exhibition, while O’Brien’s original pieces and ephemera are for display only. Also for sale at the gallery is the monograph, The Ann O’Brien Jewelry Studio: An Illustrated History (Abitian Press, 2007).