In October 2012 Los Angeles campaigned for public school arts education and took its message to the streets, with the first in a series of artist-designed buses. Barbara Krugger decorated their inaugural public transport campaign, layering a series of her slogans onto the city’s fleet.
Twelve city buses wrapped in text produced by Kruger were accompanied by other works hosted on 85 billboards, bus shelters and other outdoor media sites, in a month-long campaign, promoting arts education in the city’s public schools. The initiative is organized by Art Matters, the arts arm of The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education.
“The place of the arts in the classroom is essential in encouraging invention, ambition, and an understanding of the importance and pleasures of living an examined life,” Kruger says . Or, as she puts it more pithily in one of her outdoor media works: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
It’s not the first time Kruger has gone on the busses; the conceptual artist, who was born in New Jersey and is currently an art professor at UCLA. Krugger created a similar bus wrap in November 1997 for the New York City’s Public Art Fund — her wrapped Bus carried riders from Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhatten to Queens.
This month, January 2013, another great LA artist is let loose on the transportation network: John Baldessari. With typical directness and simplicity, he has covered LA’s metro buses with a yellow and black wrap, in the style of America’s legally prescribed chrome yellow school buses, which have been taking children to school since 1939. On top of this Baldessari has added the slogan, Learn to Dream, in both Spanish and English. There’s a billboard version of the piece too, with the words written onto a school blackboard.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Barbara Kruger (born January 26, 1945) is an American conceptual artist. Much of her work consists of black-and-white photographs overlaid with declarative captions—in white-on-red (for those of your who love typography and fonts) Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed. The phrases in her works often include pronouns such as “you”, “your”, “I”, “we”, and “they”. Kruger lives and works in New York and Los Angeles.
John Baldessari (born June 17, 1931) is an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. Baldessari differed from other conceptual artists in his humour and commitment to the visual image. He dramatized the ordinary, although beneath the apparent simplicity of his words and images lie multiple connotations. He lives and works in California.
Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid 1960s. In 1970 he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. He 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.