EDWARD O'BRIEN, MURAL ARTIST, 1910–1975
By Peter E. Lopez
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The early Twentieth Century brought into America many second generations of artists, writers, inventors and seekers of wealth who were born of immigrants from Europe. One of the great mural painters was born in 1910 to first generation Irish parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His name was Edward O’Brien. Little is known about where we can see his earlier work. What we do know is that he left behind six mural masterpieces that were created between 1960 and 1975. Four murals were painted in New Mexico, one in Benet Lake, Wisconsin, at the St. Benedict’s Abbey and another at the Catholic Parish of St. Pius V in Chicago, Illinois.
What is so special about these murals is that they were created in places of worship and in Catholic institutes of learning. For more than three to four decades after their completion, they are still venerated today. Edward O’Brien’s use of acrylic paints blended with egg tempera on dry plastered panels has been compared to those of Renaissance masters. With his minute attention to detail and patient layering of paint, the luminosity of the murals appears as if it was just completed recently.
Edward O’Brien’s work reflects his study of the Old Masters and their technique of capturing light and expression. His murals depict the artist’s fascination with history and religion expressed through an eclectic mixture of landscapes, portraits and architecture. The murals reflect an influence of the great mural Mexican artists of the 1920s.
Peter Lopez is a master santero artist who was born in the rural town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1940. Today, he resides in Montezuma, New Mexico. He has a bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of New Mexico. He spent four years in the Marine Corps and worked a number of years for the New Mexico State Department of Labor. He has two daughters, five grandsons and one great-grandson. He has been an active artist with the Spanish Colonial Arts Society for the last twenty-two years. Peter first viewed the mural, “Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Love for the Indian Race,” a spectacular work of Edward O’Brien’s, at the St. Catherine’s Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, Peter has channeled his inspiration from Edward O’Brien’s art and created a collector’s edition of Edward O’Brien’s mural art work.
8 1/2 x 8 1/2