I am trying to vary the types of arts the kids and I see…It’s good for the eyes and it helps keeping it all real: too much of the sleek stuff and you get into a snobbish rut.
About 28 years ago, Leonard Knight built his own version of a Holy Mountain.
He started by piling up bales of straw, adding plaster, emulating adobe construction until he resorted to reinforce his work with latex and finally cover his labor of love with layers upon layers of bright colorful paints.
Leonard lived on sight in a car marked “Repent”. He decorated it with motifs that brought me straight back to India and its colorful trucks usually on a mission to prove that all aboard will get reincarnated no matter the obstacles they face at God’s speed!
As we explored Leonard’s Forest (the Museum), we discovered how he created his own little adobe oasis, a rainbow colored mesh of trunks and branches.
Walking from nooks to crannies, peeking through makeshift windows, this enchanting world spoke louder than all the religious references gently scattered all over Salvation Mountain.
The words which came to the agnostic that I am were for kids to spread their branches, spread them wide and high and don’t forget to connect the trees of your childhood worlds. I am amazed the kids did not shut me up saying “Mum, that’s exactly what we do on Minecraft!”.
They were impressed an adult had concocted one of the best dens they’d seen.
The agnostic that I am was a little concerned not to be able to “get” what Salvation Mountain was all about.
Colors do the preaching on Salvation Mountain…
Next stop was East Jesus, an artist community adjacent to Salvation Mountain where time seems to have run to a standstill in the desert heat. “Do people really live here?”, asked the kids.
Theygot a bit uneasy with some of the assemblage sculptures there, especially since a particular affection for dismembered dummies was clear.
A lot of creativity still went into assembling piles of recycled and found objects, showing that whoever lived here had a message, albeit a shouting one.
Finding someone to blame, critiquing media power comes more naturally. East Jesus is much less conceptual but still echoed an homage to Nam June Paik who, as Father of Video Art foresaw the impact of media and technology on our society and of whom I wrote here.
Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum
When the kids asked me for toilet stop, obviously I could not resist delivering an arty one!
Throughout his life as a gifted artist, Noah Purifoy created empowering art projects such as the Artist-in-Communities, -Schools and -Prisons programs.
“I hope my work provides inspiration for a person to do today what they could not do yesterday, no matter what it is. That’s art. That’s the fundamental creative process.”
The art is in the decision, the idea, the choice and the empowerment. Artists feel this as a constant need and there is now plenty more space for more of this art: artist Ed Ruscha purchased and donated another 7.5 acres to sustain the work of Noah Purifoy to help artist communities express through art what life can make difficult.
Directions to Salvation Mountain can be found here.
Directions to Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum can be found here.
© 2017 Ingrid Westlake
All pictures by Ingrid Westlake, unless otherwise stated.
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