I had heard a little about Noah Purifoy, so was intrigued when my friend Julie suggested a trip out to his open air art space in Joshua Tree. We had directions from her home in Desert Hot Springs but when we turned off onto a dirt road that continued for what seemed like miles, we began to wonder if we were headed in the right direction. We were driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid the deeper potholes when we spied a truck headed our way. I waved at the driver through the window and he happily waved back. "No! Stop!" I mouthed through the car window. He did and I jumped out asked if we were headed in the right direction to see Noah Purifoy's place. "You're almost there," he said. He confirmed our directions were correct and told us we were going to love it. (So because of that friendly guy in the truck I have a very good sense of the people who live in the desert.) We made a few more turns and arrived at what looked like a huge outdoor art installation. Because, of course, it was.
Noah Purifoy died in March 2004 but I still felt his presence as we wandered through the ramshackle shelters, sculpture gardens and big open spaces. We saw the double wide trailer he lived in up until his death. I felt the influence of Simon Rodia's Watts Towers where Purifoy helped to establish an art center. Found objects of all sizes and materials. Tires, bowling balls, shredded clothing, newspapers, typewriters, engraved metal signs, rusty skates, wooden slats with peeling paint. Walled in structures open to the bright blue sky. Scary interior spaces that spoke of pain and neglect. Moments of pure joy upon discovering wonderful treasures.
If you're interested in learning more about Noah Purifoy click here
Upside Down Head
Metal of all sorts