First of all, who’d have thought we’d need long sleeves in the desert? And that after so many days without rain, we’d finally encounter it out here?
But that’s how it happened today outside Joshua Tree, at the Noah Purifoy sculpture park/environment. Pat and Roger, who work as caretakers couldn’t have been nicer, showing us around the acreage and telling tales of their time with Noah before he died in 2004. “I make assemblages, I don’t do maintenance” was one of the artist’s credos, so he’s fortunate that this retired couple do it so well.
Noah used all kinds of discarded materials to fashion complex shapes and forms, as well as structures you can literally walk into and through. Some are playful, some, like a water fountain for “whites and colored” are not. As an African-American who’d first studied social work, then lived and taught in Watts, he had plenty of experiences from which to draw--and this cactus covered space in the desert apparently fired him up well into his 80s.
Once again, since we’re far luckier than we deserve, the rain held off for real until we’d departed. and disappeared altogether as we stopped for gas and ice at Cabazon. The refueling location wasn’t completely random. We knew that Claude Bell’s giant dinos (as seen in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) were there. Though their recent re-shaping into an anti-evolution exhibit was really pretty shocking! Say no more.
For a brief bit, we found ourselves back on I-10, then veered southwest toward Lake Elsinore, trying to recall whether it was from Hamlet or Macbeth. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” is all Mike could say, and that was good enough.
After grabbing some coffee at a Starbucks that apparently opened yesterday, we wandered around the lake in question to G&R Mufflers, where a family of metal creations in the yard has become a local staple. Gary, their maker, wasn’t bending pipes today, so we made up a few stories about the figures on his behalf. We’ll check with him later to see if we’re even close!
Music in the van -- Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, “El Rayo X” David Lindley, “Freedom” Nneena Freelon