By Terry Miller
A stunning new art project conceived by Kenton Nelson will greet you next time you meander your way to the back parking lot at the popular Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.
The tiny Italian mosaic tiles (approximately 170,000) adorn the wall on the side of the new project by developer Ken McCormick directly behind the bookstore. The tiles were hand-set in Nelson’s studio and then the process of actually installing began in February.
Nelson originally pitched the city of Pasadena over a year ago and as Nelson said, “Ken McCormick took me off the ledge several times …” referring to the joy of dealing with bureaucracy.
A project such as this requires time and a lot of patience plus assistance from artists like Frank Gallagher, all Industrial Arts of San Marino, as well as two or three other talented team members ensuring the accuracy of the demanding.
Nelson said he’s particularly excited about this project as people will be able to go up and touch and feel the tiles. Most of the Mosaic tile installations have been too high for one to experience like this one.
Kenton Nelson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended Long Beach State University and Otis Parsons Art Institute, and for the last 35 years has had his art studio in Pasadena, CA. He has been on the faculty of the Otis Parsons Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
Nelson traces his interest in painting back to his great uncle, Roberto Montenegro, renowned Mexican muralist and Modernist. The style of Nelson’s paintings have their origins in American Scene painting, Regionalism, and the work of the WPA artists of the 1930s.
Nelson paints figures, landscape, and architecture bathed in light. The objective in his paintings is to idealize the ordinary with the intention of engagement, using the iconic symbols and styles of his lifetime in a theatrical style to make leading suggestions.
Nelson’s paintings have been featured four times on the cover of The New Yorker magazine. Recent exhibitions of Nelson’s work have been enjoyed from Los Angeles to Stuttgart, Zurich and Salzburg. His oil paintings of figures, objects, and architecture have, as one critic said, “single handedly resurrected the sun drenched optimism of New Deal American Painting.”
WATCH: More Information on Kenton Nelson’s New Installation