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Local sculptor installs unique work in Pasadena

When the city of Pasadena put out a public call for a sculpture to add to its Art in Public Places program last year, Kellan Shanahan decided to combine his experiences in art, architecture and computer programming to create a one-of-a-kind piece for his submission.

He fabricated a small-scale model that earned him a spot in the second round where he was interviewed by the Pasadena City Council about his proposal. Once his project was chosen, building it took him three months.

Shanahan grew up in Bonsall, graduating from Fallbrook High School in 2009 before majoring in Fine Arts at Chapman College. He works in the field of architecture in Los Angeles now but has spent time helping others with their art, including Fallbrook sculptor Michael Stutz.

He also took a summer course in computer modeling at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He considers computer programming "creative, like an instrument" with which one can "practice a technical skill" and express oneself.

The sculptural piece is titled "Arroyo" and is 8'H x 3'W x 3'D. Shanahan said it is made out of laser cut sheets of steel welded to the frame and rusted to a natural patina, explaining that "the cut patterns are taken from topographical data of the Arroyo Seco river and mountains above Pasadena – where the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is located. JPL conducted a satellite survey several years ago that created 3D scans of the entire planet – and made the data open source and available to the public."

He said he "created a script using that data to generate the patterns that were cut out by machine, as an homage to Pasadena's history with JPL and the landscape of the Arroyo Seco that is one of favorite nature preserves in Los Angeles County."

The panels are made of corten, a type of steel that is designed to rust. According to Shanahan, the process of oxidation creates a coating, sealing the underlying layer of metal so that it does not need maintenance. He also designed the sculpture with its intended location in mind, purposely not using shiny metal so there wouldn't be a blinding reflection affecting passing traffic.

Shanahan chose to assemble his sculpture in Fallbrook at Stutz's studio on Alvarado Street since studio space is more accessible here and "it's closer to the network of public artists and supporters I've grown up with," he said.

The sculpture was moved to Pasadena and installed with the help of a crane on Feb. 28.

He said he wanted "to get the word out about this piece in as many ways as possible, while representing the community that helped me reach this milestone in my career as an artist. Moving to the city has made me realize Fallbrook is a little known gem of working artists and deserves more recognition."


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