By Kathy Day
John Baldessari has made another indelible mark on La Jolla with the newest installation of the La Jolla Community Foundation’s murals program.
This time the world-renowned artist’s work — also featured in UCSD’s Stuart Collection — can be seen on the back wall of the building at 1250 Prospect St. Called “Brain/Cloud (with Seascape and Palm Tree),” the creation measures 36 feet, 8 inches by 40 feet.
The artist explained the newest addition to the La Jolla art scene this way: “A brain can look like a cloud if you manipulate it in the right way. We see things in clouds. It looks like it’s hovering almost from outer space. I like banal images and I can’t think of anything more banal than a palm tree and an ocean.”
The mural was unfurled Thursday and the final touches of stretching it and attaching it will continue into Friday. To put it up, an extensive scaffolding system was erected late last week.
Matt Browar, a member of the community foundation’s art committee overseeing the selection and placement of the art, called Baldessari “an international superstar.”
“This is a wonderful addition to La Jolla,” Browar said. “It’s the work of a major figure and in a prominent location.”
Born and raised in National City, Baldessari holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Diego State and has taught at UCSD, California Institute of the Arts and UCLA.
He is described in press information as “a conceptual artist whose work for 40 years has questioned how we perceive and interpret the world around us.”
He has worked in a range of media, with his more recent work utilizing photography in “collaged compositions that explore the relationships between images.”
His art has been shown at the Tate Modern in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 2001, he completed READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM as part of UCSD’s Stuart Collection. The collection’s website details his transformation of the eight entry doors to the Geisel Library with “photographic images of UCSD students standing atop a row of shelved books. They become part of the architectural structure — like a Greek temple using the figures as columns, the books as their bases.”
Baldessari’s mural is the fourth in the Murals of La Jolla public art project launched in 2010 by the La Jolla Community Foundation.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Murals of La Jolla or the coastal panel effort or with an idea about a future panel or mural should contact Trudy Armstrong at
or (858) 674-6979. The La Jolla Community Foundation is a partner of the San Diego Foundation.
To watch a video interview with John Baldessari about the Stuart Collection piece, go to