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Public art project in Los Angeles continues with next cycle of buses and outdoor media
John Baldessari, Learn To Dream, Aprende A Soņar (Bus, billboard, and outdoor media for the LA Fund), 2012. Š John Baldessari. Photo by Victor Treato.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Produced by ForYourArt, the public art component of Arts Matter, kicked-off by Barbara Kruger in October, continues with the work of artist John Baldessari. Totaling 60 media assets, his project titled, Learn To Dream, Aprende A Soņar (For the LA Fund), will appear on buses, billboards, bus shelters, and other types of outdoor media throughout Los Angeles starting today, and running for four weeks.

Learn To Dream, Aprende A Soņar is the second flight of original works of art by world-renowned artists produced by ForYourArt for Arts Matter, a first of its kind, citywide public art exhibition and fundraising campaign to support arts and creativity in the nation’s second largest public school system.

Baldessari’s bus artwork, with its yellow and black design, turns LA Metro buses into “school buses”, a reminder that every moment is an opportunity for learning and reflecting. Like the best teachers, Baldessari‘s work provokes contemplation about what is and is not working in education today and challenges us to plan for a better future. His bilingual text, rendered in the artist’s hand, inspires thinking and dialogue among and about Los Angeles’s diverse audiences.

The phase, Learn To Dream, Aprende A Soņar, is repeated on various sized billboards, bus shelters, and other outdoor media against a black chalkboard background. Recalling Baldessari’s well-known work, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971), which came from an idea of atonement, Learn To Dream, Aprende A Soņar is a mantra for the 21st century. Like his buses, the billboards and outdoor media call upon the power of individual and collective dreaming.

Presented by the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education (LA Fund) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Arts Matter addresses the importance of arts education in Los Angeles public schools, the “creative capital of the world.” Public art will be presented on a fleet of twelve city buses and 48 other outdoor media totaling $4 million in value with approximately 900 million "eyes on artwork" impressions over the course of a year.

“Here in the world’s creative capital we need to ensure all of our students receive a comprehensive, integrated arts education,” stated Megan Chernin, founding Chair and CEO of the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education. “Los Angeles cannot take the creative economy for granted. Major LA employers like Mattel, a worldwide leader in hiring creative people, are joining this campaign because they understand the direct connection between arts integration in the classroom and a thriving creative workforce."

“John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger’s projects reflect our intention of bringing art to the public with multiple access points for diverse audiences. As the buses move through the landscape of Los Angeles, we are reminded that society’s values are communicated and learned via public space and shared movement,” said ForYourArt founder Bettina Korek.

With English and Spanish combined in the artwork, the two languages intermingle on billboards and outdoor media, reflecting the reality of co-existence and the possibility of collaboration. Baldessari’s buses also trigger reflection on issues of translation, community, and audience that are increasingly prevalent in the administration and presentation of art. The use of dual languages reflects the changing demographics of LAUSD, Los Angeles, the United States, and museum visitors alike.

Learn To Dream is a phrase that Baldessari has returned to throughout his career. He created a billboard in New Zealand for ARTSPACE, where “Learn to Dream” appeared among horizontal bands of yellow, black, cyan, and light blue, and he rendered the phrase in a typeface designed by New Zealand typographer Joseph Churchward. The phrase recently appeared on a screen-print, produced by Gemini G.E.L. and published by Brain Multiples, as well as on T-shirts for the Trespass Parade in downtown Los Angeles, produced by West of Rome Public Art.

John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California. He received a BA and MA from San Diego State University and completed postgraduate work at both Otis Art Institute and Chouinard Art Institute.

For more than five decades, Baldessari has created thousands of works that demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. He has continually explored these themes in painting, photography, film, video, site-specific installations, artist’s books, sculpture, drawings, prints, and multiples.

Since 1957, Baldessari’s work has been featured in more than 950 solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe. He has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, including those organized by the New Museum, New York, in 1981; the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia, Spain, in 1989; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1990; Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, in 1995; the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, and Kunsthaus Graz, in 2005; and Tate Modern, London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 2009.

As a teacher from 1970 to 1988 at the California Institute of the Arts, and from 1996 to 2007 at the University of California, Los Angeles, Baldessari instructed and influenced generations of artists. He lives and works in Southern California.

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