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Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw is a artist living in Los Angeles. He's the guy who curated that show and book "Thrift Store Paintings", of art (mostly bad, much memorably bad, some stunningly bad) donated to thrift stores. But America's art underbelly isn't his only source of inspiration. He draws his dreams constantly, matter-of-factly, without interpretation. They don't need much. His dreams are unlike most people's--little continuity or plot, mostly unemotional (even the humor is deadpan and matter-of-fact), but feverishly rich in surreal art-imagery--raw material for waking-world art. He literally can't dream of being off the job! The Art Eye just can't quit...

Shaw's not exotic in all ways. Few are lucid or shamanic. And his dreams feature mostly male characters--by my count, at least 2:1. Reportedly that's typical for an American man--as it is for American TV, too, and that's no coincidence. A man's world. (In contrast, my own dreams, and most women's dreams, have ratios near 1:1.)

The samples below are from his book Dreams, a collection based on an art show in January 1995 of pencil drawings of dreams from 1987-95. I count 385 dreams--the largest dream journal ever printed I think, until the uncut edition of Kerouac's Book of Dreams came out in 2001. For a prolific, manic dreamer like this, the couple of dozen dreams below can't show the whole range.

RELATED TOPICS: Bibliography: Dreamjournals - chthonic dreams (dreams of the underworld) - guides and animas - blindness, denial, and delusion - Jungian dreams - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

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BAD DREAM BOOK: by Jim Shaw; late 1994?, a dream calling his dream art lame
I show a friend my book of dream-art, but it's half-baked and embarrassing.
I'm no good at smuggling guns, porn or cash through customs, either...
BALLET CURTAIN: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, an odd double dream image
Dancers in 18th Century gowns emerged from a curtain with paintings of ballerinas in the same gowns...
CELLO CASE: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, an odd dream image
I was going to music camp, but I didn't know how to play my cello.
A teenager and her mother slept like vampires in her giant cello case...
DEATH DATE: by Jim Shaw; 1994 (early?), a possibly predictive shamanic dream
I become a werewolf and climb into a strange attic. I find a grave marker for
an old friend--but her death date is two years in the future...
AN ELECTORAL REFORM: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a dream-idea that came true
In between drawing devil-bunnies, I advocate letting doomed fringe candidates donate their votes
to more viable colleagues, letting voters express their real choices, not vote for the lesser evil...
FUTURE BOOKS: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a dream lesson on reading
In a repressive, thought-controlled future I find some old banned books;
I tell my student "Reading these makes life more interesting--and angry..."
THE GIANT: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a dreamlet on rage about... what?
At a beach, a man attacks the genitals, buttocks and thighs of a giant who sits half in the surf, ignoring him...
GOD SELLS CIGARETTES: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a sad dream vignette
I dreamed God was naked, selling cigarettes in a nightclub...
HOCKEY: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a flirtatious dream-scene
I'm a hockey player. A woman strips to a bikini, wondering if she's attractive. My erection says she is...
IGUANA: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, two surreal dreamlets on water damage
In a flooded room, an indignant iguana scolds me, while
my wife Marnie checks her computer implant for water damage...
THE IRON WINDOW: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, a grotesque dreamlet
Bearded professors call through an iron-barred window shaped like
a woman's torso, hoping to lure a nude model to fill it so they can grope...
JESUS HEADS: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, twin dreamlets of oversize sculptures
In a museum I see huge Jesus heads with inset saints and figures in pain;
then, in our old back yard, huge coffee cups half-sunk in the grass...
LETTERMAN: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a surreal dreamlet
Sharon Stone kisses David Letterman, and his head starts distorting
as she rants about the film industry's baby-actor monopoly...
LOOKING FOR LIBRIUM: by Jim Shaw; Jan. 1995?, a mutant Biblical dream
After fighting off an electrified Orson Welles, I meet the twelve
vulture-pine-politicians climbing Mt Sinai, looking for librium...
THE MAN WHO DESERVED TO DIE: by Jim Shaw; c.1994; a dream of moral rescue
I don't want to kill my friend, though his clothes say I must. But
a sculptor lets us sit on her metal trees and drink tea instead...
MY FUTURE ART: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995; a self-fulfilling dream prophecy
This woman shows me a book of my art. I'm not sure I want to see them--some pieces are from my future...
ORANGE: by Jim Shaw; c.1994; a wordplay dream?
A coy, giggling giant orange bounces onto a man's bed, trying to seduce him, and...
THE RICH WRECK THE WELL: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, a dream of Heaven
A movie version of heaven. Souls line up for rejuvenation from a great
fountain. But fat old rich guys crash the line, demanding to be first...
SIX DREAMS: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a very busy night!
1: A flooded bathroom becomes 2: a glass water-piano; 3: my friend strips in a restaurant, so
4: they serve me gutted dog. 5: Dolls teach prostitution, as 6: a rhino rubs up to an elephant-bear...
SKUNK SEEKS THAILAND: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, a dreamlet of shamanic kindness
One night I meet a giant talking skunk and its pup, who asks how to walk to Thailand...
SPLITTING THE ATOM: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, an antitherapy dream?
In a dark classroom, my shrink was demonstrating atom-splitting
with a glowing ping pong ball. I was glad I wasn't in that class...
THE SUMMONERS: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, a mysterious dream
Two nude women (drawn Wally Wood style) dance ritually in a
forest, summoning a worm-snake-dragon with a ring of fangs...
SWALLOWING NUMBERS: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995; a surreal eating dreamlet
I was late for something, so I opened my pocket watch and swallowed a bunch of numbers...
TEN CLARKS AND LOISES: by Jim Shaw; c.1994, an epic dream on... poseurs?
Hand-puppets, a devil and a witch, have sex, and implant a lunar ghost embryo
into Lois Lane; now Lois & Clarkes, ten clones each, pretend to be puppets...
THROATS: by Jim Shaw; between 1987 & Jan. 1995, two odd dreamlets
Men put babies into giant throats inset in a funhouse wall;
then I see a slot machine generating random art-speak phrases...

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