I discovered Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) on a visit to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) in November. The show 'Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada' was a fascinating insight into an influential, yet under recognized, African-American artist who lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California. He was a founding director of the Watts Towers Art Center and his earliest body of work was constructed out of the ruined remains and debris from the 1965 Watts riots. This work developed into '66 Signs of Neon', a traveling group exhibition about the riots that ran from 1966 to 1969. LACMA's notes on the exhibition describe '66 Signs of Neon' as constituting "...a Duchampian approach to the fire-molded alleys of Watts... ".
Following a period in the 70s and 80s of deep involvement in working on public policy through the California Arts Council, and promoting the integration of the arts into social institutions, Purifoy moved his studio to Joshua Tree, CA in the Mojave desert. For the last fifteen years of his life, he created a collection of large-scale sculpture constructed entirely from junk, covering 10 acres of the desert.
The LACMA exhibit had such a powerful effect on me, that two days after seeing the exhibit, I decided to drive to Joshua Tree to experience the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum first hand. It didn't disappoint and I even got a photo assist from some great clouds in the sky.
To learn more about Noah Purifoy visit www.noahpurifoy.com.
LACMA Exhibit: 'Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada' closed on January 3, 2016
Joshua Tree CA:
Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum:
Stay tuned for the second installment from Purifoy's art site in the desert.