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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Light Up Your Life

Out with the old and make it new, the ultimate in earth-saving actions, and artist Patrick O'Brien is doing his part to save planet Earth. Growing up in Southern California, he didn't think his parents were particularly artistic. Still, there were teachers at school that thought he was. The message was, "That's great, now push it to the next level." O'Brien remembers, "I always loved art classes. Although I have had no formal training in the fine arts, I did take art classes all through high school, so that introduced me to a variety of possibilities."

O'Brien admits he was always mechanically inclined, which formed the foundation of his career as a professional electrician. He states, "Electrical work has always been something I've really enjoyed doing, day in and day out without getting bored." Another one of his passions is photography. His business "Reilluminated Lamps" is where his talent for detailed work as an electrician and his natural creative ability have come together. In the process of constructing his lamps, O'Brien has figured out a way to keep a lot of items out of the landfill and "bring in the light."

"We live in a throw-away society. Things just are not made like they use to be, to last for many years. So, the items I use now have a second life to inspire others to reconsider, repurposing items into useful objects."

In June 2012, O'Brien moved to Phoenix, enrolling in the HD Program with the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI). MMI provides Harley-Davidson dealerships, across the country, with trained technicians. O'Brien graduated as a Certified HD Tech and landed his dream job with a local dealership. Unfortunately, a few years later, he was let go in one of Arizona's economic slumps. At that point, O'Brien decided to make the Valley his home permanently to take advantage of its vibrant art scene. He set up his home as a studio and went to work combining his talents in design, mechanics, electricity, and photography, "Reilluminated Lamps" was born. O'Brien's inaugural project was a lamp constructed from his Kodak A1 Camera from 1922 morphed into a lamp. According to O'Brien, "We live in a throw-away society. Things just are not made like they use to be, to last for many years. So, the items I use now have a second life to inspire others to reconsider, repurposing items into useful objects."

His career change paid off; O'Brien won first place as "Best Creative Reuse" at the Tempe Arts Festival in the fall of 2019, and his lamps have been in high demand since. Unfortunately, Covid put the arts, performances, and a lot more into lockdown; as a result, O'Brien has not done any of the big shows he usually participates in during the season. But he is represented by two area galleries that have remained open to the public with precautions; On The Edge Gallery in Scottsdale, and the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery in Fountain Hills. You will be surprised at the materials O'Brien has been able to assemble into his one-of-a-kind lamps. He also accepts commissions, don't throw or give away that gearbox, wheel with broken sprockets, broken bicycle chain, or old camera. You just might discover artist Patrick O'Brien can "light up your life" with a new use for your old stuff.

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