Anne Marie Karlsen's "Public Displays of Artistic Expression" Features Eclectic, Interactive Art

The sound of the Jazz Ensemble welcomes your echoing footsteps as you enter the Santa Monica College Performing Art Center, curious for what is to come behind the closed doors of the Barrett Art Gallery. The doors open right at 12:00 p.m., and those echoing footsteps get louder as you enter the vast and open art gallery, Public Displays of Artistic Expression, featuring artworks and installations by artist and Santa Monica City College art professor, Anne Marie Karlsen. 

The pieces range from small tiles to large, hanging photographs twice your size. The artwork is numbered from one all the way to 35, circling the room's walls from left to right. Your eyes are instantly captivated by the kaleidoscope-like artwork to the immediate left when you first walk in the massive room. Karlsen's “Muse X Editions” from 1996 are collages of Renaissance and Medieval art formed into spirals. Much of her artwork resembles this vacuum of collages that draws the viewer in for more.

Maintaining an out-of-this-world theme, Anne Marie Karlsen has up for display three larger than life billboard vinyl jet prints titled “Darth,” “Slick,” and “Cappy.” These three pieces are composed of red, blue, yellow, and black dots the size of the tip of a marker. From a distance these pictures are visibly abstract faces, however the closer you get the more pixelated they become. Darth, Slick, and Cappy are interactive pieces for the audience that also incorporate Karlsen's apt for mosaic work through a different medium.

Besides this gallery, Karlsen has many public artworks throughout Los Angeles County and various other states in the United States.

Brennan Weeler, the art assistant for the Public Displays of Artistic Expression art gallery, said, “There is a clear connection to her studio works and public works,” as he discusses her public works compared to what is up for display in the Barrett Gallery.

“Her at-home work is a way to step in between the two,” said Weeler.

Much of the artwork that Karlsen displays in public places are mosaic and glass works. In Los Angeles alone, she has 21 public art pieces that get attention on a day-to-day basis, as they are in constantly commuted places, such as the Metro Orange Line at the Nordhoff station, Lawndale Public Library, Santa Monica Place Parking Garage, East Valley Health Center, and Pavilions Market of North Hollywood.

The art gallery gets a fair share of foot traffic as well. People who have heard of Anne Marie Karlsen and seen her public works come in to see what more is in store from the creative mind of the well-rounded artist.

Weeler said the art gallery receives “15 to 30 people on a day-to-day basis,” and the opening night was “well attended with an overall positive response.”

Public Displays of Artistic Expression has great variety of different mediums of art and examples of the public work you can find throughout the city and country.

Karlsen's artwork is captivating, leaving the viewer stunned and searching for the meaning behind the methodically placed, yet abstract collages that circle the quiet white room.