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John MacLean

"My work is not about what I see, but how I see it. I try to challenge the conventions of perception and representation"

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Participated in group and solo exhibitions in art museums and galleries throughout Southern California.

Nationally Known

John MacLean is a self-taught artist who has no formal training in either drawing or sculpture. He has been living in California since 1963 and has been blessed enough to live what was once called the California dream. He has been a blue-collar worker for most of his life, except for a decade of teaching high school English in Los Angeles. He loved working the night shift as a school custodian the most. His artistic endeavors began with doodling in his notebooks back in high school. He would sit at his desk and spend the period spinning out these loopy, curvy, psychedelic designs. Much to his surprise, classmates would often ask if they could have the drawings. The same thing happened in college, and at the one and only desk job he held. Years later, he began to take the drawings seriously, working on Bristol board with rapidograph and colored pencil.

In 1993, he took a week-long workshop class in Celtic stone carving in Elkins, West Virginia. There, he learned the basics of relief carving in alabaster, and he found George Bain’s book “Celtic Art The Methods of Construction.” Applying the discipline of Celtic design would turn his psychedelic doodles into carefully drafted knotwork compositions. But as soon as he cut into a piece of alabaster, he knew his days of graphic art were about over. He had ‘found his bliss’ in stone work. He also found that he had no interest in relief carving. He had spheroids, bowls, swooping curves, tunnels, loops, and arches, blooming in his head. He knew he could take those figures he drew and translate them into stone. He has been working in stone exclusively since 1997.

David Warren once quoted Schiller, saying, “Beauty is not an inductive idea; it is an imperative.” John MacLean shares this sentiment and works with the singular goal of creating beauty. As he puts it, “Goodness is what we must do. Truth is what we must know. Beauty is what we must love.” Now, as always, the world is in a bad way, and there is nothing he can do to stop the madness. But he can create beauty, and do so in a medium that will live on long after he’s gone. He wants to make things that will delight the people who eventually will own them. To create a little beauty is to add a little joy to life.


Italian Crystal Alabaster Stone

17 x 12 x 8 inches


Utah Raspberry Alabaster Stone

17 x 12 x 8 inches


Anza Borrego alabaster stone

14 x 15 x 9 inches

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