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John Baldessari on Blue Gorillas and the Importance of Creative Dreaming

John Baldessari on promoting arts education on blue gorillas.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

Artists have, for generations, sought inspiration in their dreams. Perhaps most transparent in doing so is Salvador Dali. In Provenance is Everything, Bernard Ewell relays the following story about how Dali accessed his dreams for paintings:

"Sitting in the warm sun after a full lunch and feeling somewhat somnolent, Dali would place a metal mixing bowl in his lap and hold a large spoon loosely in his hands which he folded over his chest. As he fell asleep and relaxed, the spoon would fall from his grasp into the bowl and wake him up. He would reset the arrangement continuously and thus float along-not quite asleep and not quite awake-while his imagination would churn out the images that we find so fascinating, evocative, and inexplicable when they appear in his work..."

When John Baldessari wrapped Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses to look like school buses, he used the phrase “Learn to Dream / Aprende a Sonar.” Created for the LA Fund for Public Education's Arts Matter campaign to encourage conversation about, and support for, the integration of arts education. Baldessari understands the role of dreaming in personal development. This is active dreaming—deliberate engagement with a subject critical to the future health of Los Angeles.

Here we captured Baldessari on video as he recounts an old recurring surreal dream that had an impact on his work, a reminder of the importance of unconscious dreaming and how it can help us see our daily work in new ways.


What's a surreal dream that you've had lately?

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