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O'Brien as Other

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The William J. O'Brien show at the Museum of Contemporary Art is full of contradictions. I vacillate between calling it a brilliant show and thinking the art is dumb, between seeing the work as sloppy, and that it elegantly fulfills its intent.

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There is art in diverse media here, making it look more like it has been done by a small cult more than by one inspired individual.

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There are other systems at play or work here. There's a strong sense of 'otherness.' It's as if we are seeing evidence of a different aesthetic society for the first time.

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Clearly there's a different guide, a different meaning of beauty, and a different sense of order.

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The exhibit is equal parts profound and different. Lots of individual pieces are quirky or funky, but together they comprise choruses of happy fellows leading us merrily into dank forests that would be scary if they weren't so damned beautiful.

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It's a peculiar exhibit because you walk out changed. It's seductive. For a while anyway, you'll see things differently.

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Maybe I'll see you when I go back.

Warmly,
Paul Klein