The Coachella festival, starting this week, showcases music in a dramatic landscape but in and around Joshua Tree the arts and culture shine all year round
Out in the desert, anything seemed possible. The stark, dry landscape felt like an illusion, a deception that belied the artistic endeavour and creativity around Joshua Tree and the other high desert communities of Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms and Pioneertown. I got the sense that maybe no idea could be too crazy, no scheme too out there.
My surroundings made it easy to feel this way: I was looking at the salvaged-material sculptures of Noah Purifoy at a 10-acre open-air gallery a few minutes drive from the town of Joshua Tree. The Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture is as mesmerising as its name. Amid the cactus and sagebrush, I saw old cathode-ray-tube TVs and VCRs piled against a jumble of scrap metal, and a welcome sign fashioned from tyres. A plot of white crosses hinted at darkness and mortality, while there was humour in bicycle parts and pieces of wood and metal united as unfathomable contraptions.