In this 38-minute podcast, Joe Lewis shares with listeners Noah Purifoy (1917-2004) the man, the social worker, the Director of the Watts Towers and pioneering arts advocate and activist. Known for his work with the vernacular, read “junk”, which started in 1965 using debris leftover from the Watts Rebellion, Purifoy worked steadily out of Los Angeles, spending the last 15 years of his life in Joshua Tree. Purifoy took debris, mixed it with the vernacular and social issues, and created unique and powerful works, reverberating far beyond the desert.
Lewis describes the influence that the Watts Rebellion had on Purifoy (min. 2), his standout pieces (min. 4), starting of the Foundation and his “studio” (min. 9) and the role of the natural elements in composing (and decomposing) his work. Joe then continues with how it worked in a “proper” museum, surround by white walls (min. 18), special memories (min. 22), his need to go out to Joshua Tree (min. 29) and how the Foundation deals with the elements to preserve his work and legacy.
Feted by the art world, including at LACMA, Purifoy’s art transcends what has been termed “Junk Dada” - there is something intensely relevant in our times about inequality, mass consumption and polarization.
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