Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Noah Purifoy’s outdoor museum

with one comment

Assemblage sculpture from Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

Noah Purifoy was an accidental find. During last visit to Joshua Tree National Park, we ended up staying close to his museum of assemblage sculpture. Since then, I learned many things, a) media describes him as an artist forged by fire, his earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from LA’s 1965 Watts rebellion, was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, the landmark 1966 group exhibition on the Watts riots that traveled throughout the country, b) he was exhibited at LACMA in 2015, “Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada“, 50th anniversary of the Watts riots  when several of these large-scale sculptures from Joshua Tree museum were brought in along with some of his early works, and  finally, c) something provocative even by today’s standards, his 1971 solo show.

A 1971 solo show at the Brockman gallery in Los Angeles—for which he converted gallery space into a squalid, crowded inner-city apartment shared by an extended black family, complete with a stinky refrigerator, roaches, and figures getting busy under bedcovers—was an even more provocative exploration of racial and social injustice (the title of the show: “N* Ain’t Gonna Never Ever Be Nothin’—All They Want to Do Is Drink and Fuck”). – Julia Felsenthal for Vogue in 2015

One of the pieces, that stuck me most was an assembled home.

View 1: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

View 2: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

View 3: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California


I didn’t know anything about Noah when we stumbled upon his open museum. I had seen assemblage sculpture in closed museum spaces before, a piece here or a piece there, and they never quite made much sense. But out there in the bright desert sun, in a seemingly middle of nowhere little (albeit destination) town, on a vacation from the humdrum of life, and seeing them all together, a narrative has started to form.

I am beginning to realize that the museum spaces are as important as the pieces themselves. I remember feeling sorry for the magnificent creatures of Theo Jansen when they were exhibited indoors at the San Francisco Exploratorium. They felt broken and powerless in the cavernously large and poorly lit exploratorium. I am sure they would have been wonderful on the beach, howling in the wind.

The disappointment at the Exploratorium was similar when seeing sunflower seeds of Ai Weiwei at the Tate Gallery in London. The original intention was a design where visitors could walk or roll on an infinite carpet of porcelain sunflower seeds in the vastness of the turbine hall. Juliet Bingham, Curator of Tate Modern had said, “Each piece is a part of the whole, a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the masses. The work continues to pose challenging questions: What does it mean to be an individual in today’s society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future?” But shortly after its opening, this interactive display was declared a health hazard due to porcelain dust. So, Tate had to put the seeds in a conical pile  in the center of a featureless bright room, cordoned off with a security guard watching over.

So if a museum piece doesn’t make sense, I just have to remind myself that perhaps it is in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Written by locomotoring

May 7, 2018 at 6:30 am

Posted in California, USA

Tagged with ,

“Destroy Shit/Hole” at Harajuku

with 2 comments

Mural on Cat Street, Harajuku

Ly, an up-and-coming painter born and raised in Tokyo, brings her imaginary world of the fantastical monster named LUV in grey-scale paintings and murals. For more of Ly (#ly_painter), check out her instagram and/or website.

Written by locomotoring

August 12, 2017 at 6:26 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

Tagged with , ,

East meets west? I think not.

with one comment

Super soft mochi balls with various syrups – honey, tart lemon, green tea, and strawberry. With sweet adzuki bean, tart and dried plum blossom and soy bean powder.

Jean-Paul Hévin’s mascarpone – layered chocolate and banana mousse.

Written by locomotoring

August 12, 2017 at 5:17 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

Japanese pottery

leave a comment »

There is traditional pottery that comes with amazing glazes and hand painted artwork and then there is the Japanese minimalist aesthetic. Both extremes are stunning. Former is relatively easy to find in Tokyo – every guidebook will provide a pointer or two. The later on the other hand was serendipity for us.

Yumiko Iihoshi Porcelain: Yumiko Yoshihoshi is the artist behind the line and is relatively recent graduate of Kyoto Saga College of Art and Ceramics Degree. As far as I could decipher from auto translation, her designs use both industrial production and hard craft. The pieces are mass produced but hand glazed.

Fine workmanship, delicate pieces, and beautiful organic but minimalist shapes. The Harajuku store is in a strange building called Co-op Olympia. It is a renovated old building with cavernous hotel like walkways. It took us two trips to locate. The shop is is one of the suites.

The traditional designs are explosion of colors or textures. Absolutely delightful. And if you have taken a class or two of pottery, you will appreciate the art even more so.

Overall, the size of the piece and prices are not very correlated. Japanese are fond of small and beautiful objects and there are many delicate small dishes for serving kaiseki style food.  These are not dishwasher friendly, no two pieces are exactly alike. What you typically get is beautiful shapes, textures, and glazes and sometimes, fine hand painting.

A beautiful sake pot with two serving cups.

Written by locomotoring

August 11, 2017 at 6:58 am

Posted in Japan

Tagged with ,

Whiskey and sushi?

with one comment

Omotesando neighborhood of Tokyo has a whisky bar delightfully named The Whisky Library with its wall to wall whisky collection. And these were not just empty display bottles, the servers were climbing ladders to serve. We tried two flights – one from the famous Suntory distillery and other from Nikka. Suntory family had a maple/woodsy finish and Nikka had a sake/salty finish. Both excellent.

Miyagikyo (single malt), Yoichi (single malt), and Taketsuru (blended malt) from Nikka distillery and Yamazaki (single malt), Hakushu (single malt) and Hibiki (blended) from Suntory.

The flights were followed by sushi at Tsukiji Tama Sushi Sasashigure at Omatesando Hills mall. Don’t frown at mall sushi – while the $300-$500 sushi at the likes of sushi master, Jiro, is no doubt sublime, a high end mall sushi meets expectations, particularly after a a few shots of delightful whisky.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

August 10, 2017 at 6:26 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

Tagged with ,

Baby octopus teppanyaki style

leave a comment »

First some cabbage and mung bean sprouts

Toss with some salt and spices

Next some baby octopuses on the hot plate

Buttered up and tossed with soy sauce

Time to plate

Yummy! More so with some potato sake. Served on the edge of hot plate, a few inches away from diner’s plate, so stays hot while one lingers on the cold sake.

Written by locomotoring

August 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

Tagged with

Specters by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

leave a comment »


Ōta Memorial Museum of Art at Harajuku shows exhibitions of ukiyo-e wood-block prints. It is one of the few museums to continuously exhibit ukiyo-e. The main part of the collection consists of about 12,000 pieces collected by one individual, Seizō Ota Ⅴ, former president of Tōhō Insurance Company. His extensive collection was made available to public by his family after he passed away in 1977. During our visit, the exhibition showed “Specters” by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

August 8, 2017 at 8:44 am