Archive for December, 2011

Murals of La Jolla, #4, John Baldessari

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Mural, Brain Cloud by John Baldessari

A huge mural, 36 feet by 40 feet, is displayed on an ocean view wall in La Jolla.  It is the fourth mural in a series, The Murals of La Jolla. By John Baldessari, it is titled either Cloud? or Brain Cloud, I’m not sure.  Various sources list it differently.

Sarah Thornton calls John Baldessari the “gregarious guru of Southern California art scene (Seven Days in the Art World, 2009).  He is also internationally famous.  And “conceptual.”  And puts disparate images together.  A brain, a palm tree, the ocean, for instance.  The La Jolla Light offers this quote from Baldessari by way of explaining the mural:  “I like banal images and I can’t think of anything more banal than a palm tree and an ocean.”

The images may be banal but the mural rises above them.  Maybe.  It is an odd juxtaposition of brains and palm. Kind of funky. Problem is, it’s a magnificently large mural and almost impossible to see.  You can see the upper part of it, the brain/cloud and some of the palm tree from the street below, but the dark blue of the ocean on the mural and the tall trunk of the palm tree are hidden by the buildings and other palm trees.  Maybe that’s the “conceptual” part.  You can hear the seals and smell the pelicans, though.  No doubt about being by the sea.  And the sea is never banal.

Neither are the brains behind the Murals of La Jolla.  They give us the most interesting walls.

This mural is actually printed on vinyl and stretched on an aluminum frame fixed to the side of the building.  The best view of it is on the web page of the company which installed it, CNP Signs & Graphics.

California Highway 1

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Highway 1 Rock and Wave

One of the most spectacular drives is the one from Monterey south on California Highway 1. We found the Henry Miller shine/library and several art galleries on the way but the day was gloomy, and we were too early to get inside any.  And the funky roadside art, what there was,  was shrouded in fog.

Close to Big Sur is the Point Sur State Historic Park & Lighthouse.  Also closed.  It is build on volcanic rock and calls up visions of the solitary life of lighthouse keepers.  Each lighthouse along the coast has a set number of seconds between the flashes of light so in the days before any other way to communicate, the ships could figure out where they were along the coast by the number of seconds between lights.  You have to admire anyone who set foot on a ship and traveled into empty space or hugged the coast line.  To really get a good idea of the adventure and pain of sailing, you really should read Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast.  It changes how you look at the coast and cattle.

Point Sur Lighthouse

But the coast itself is the journey.  Every time we travel Highway 1 different pieces have fallen into the sea, and different parts of it are being repaired.  This time, two major sections of the road which had slipped down the cliffs were in the process of having bridges built over the fragile hillsides.  There are temporary traffic lights to feed the single lane of traffic along the ragged cliffs.  They will be there awhile.  Construction is awesome.

So are the waves and seabirds.

View from Highway 1

Sea Bird