Saturday, July 4, 2015

Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada

Welcoming entrance to Noah's Mojave installations
Noah Puifoy with his sculpture "The Bridge" - 2000 - Polaroid T-55 Film ©2000 Jim McHugh
Thanks to my friend Joe Lewis, artist and educator,  I was able to photograph Noah Purifoy at his open air studio /museum in the desert in 2000. I also acquired a piece of sculpture from Noah personally, which has remained in the Mojave until a few weeks ago. After he was gone, perhaps I was uncomfortable disturbing what Noah had created. What a pleasure it was seeing the beautiful exhibit at LACMA, celebrating his life and work. Up thru September 2015.

Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California. A founding director of the Watts Towers Art Center, his earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts Rebellion, was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, a landmark group exhibition about the riots that traveled to nine venues between 1966 and 1969. LACMA
In the late 1980’s, after eleven years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions, bringing art into the state prison system, Purifoy moved his practice to the Mojave desert. He lived there for the last fifteen years of his life, creating ten acres of large-scale sculpture constructed entirely from junked materials. LACMA 
"Heavy Metal" is an apt title for this 9' lead and wood sculpture which I brought to Los Angeles a few weeks ago. "Heavy Metal" exudes a powerful presence which I was completely overtaken with the first time I saw it.

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