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Lance Cpl. Aaron Kristopik, a paralegal clerk with the Combat Center’s Staff Judge Advocate and a native of New Britain, Conn., surveys the rest of the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum in Joshua Tree, Calif., through a window in one of the exhibits April 25.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Aaron’s Exploits; One man’s trash, another's treasure

4 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

This week, Lance Cpl. Aaron Kristopik, a paralegal clerk with the Combat Center’s Staff Judge Advocate and a native of New Britain, Conn., took a trip to the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum in Joshua Tree, Calif., to get in touch with his creative side April 25.

Kristopik said gaining better understanding of art would help him down the road when he leaves the Marine Corps and possibly pursues an art career.

“We all have that spark inside of us to be creative,” he said. “Maybe experiencing the works of such a serious artist might help me make up my mind.”

Kristopik said he read about the museum online and thought it would be another strange experience.

“It looked like a lot of impressionistic art at first,” Kristopik said. “When I actually got into it and got a feel for the place I found out there was so much more to it.”

Kristopik said after reading the information they had on site and literally getting inside, seeing Purifoy’s works, he better understood what everything meant.

“Everything had a message behind it,” he said. “This guy created art for decades. One of the works that really spoke to me was the water fountain.

“It was like a visual commentary on segregation way back in the day,” he said. “The drinking fountain on the left said ‘whites,’ above it. The fountain on the right said ‘colored,’ and it was a toilet with the drinking part on it. Pretty messed up, but that’s how things were back then.”

Kristopik said there was more to the artwork than just opinions on racism.

“I really liked the keg train,” he said. “I heard some rumor about there being a train made of kegs welded together. It wasn’t a lie. I saw it, and I didn’t know what to say.”

He traveled around the site a little longer, and found some cool stuff he said may have just been trash.

“I saw a pile of shoes, which didn’t make any sense,” he said. “I think it might have been another commentary, but what it was about I still haven’t figured out.”

Kristopik said the influence of the Combat Center and the military in general was obvious in some of the artist’s work.

“I saw a wall of plaques with Marines that had died in several different wars,” he said. “I even saw a mound of earth that looked like a mass burial site from the Vietnam War.

“There was even a small spot that looked like Arlington National Cemetery,” he said. “A bunch of white crosses lined up in kind of a formation, with a couple graves and a pedestal. That was different.”

The museum can be reached by taking a right on Highway 62 and taking another right onto Sunburst Street and following that until making another right on Golden Street, making a left onto Border Avenue.

Off of Border, take a right on Aberdeen Road and another right on Blair Lane, and you will see all the sculptures and buildings, admission is free at any time.

Kristopik said seeing the artwork was one thing he had always wanted to do, bringing him almost where he wanted to be in terms of his California travel.

“I know now where I’m going and what I’m doing,” he said. “One of my last expeditions, possibly one of my best yet.

“Next week I’m going to see the biggest versions of toys I’ve ever seen that I played with as a kid,” he said. “LegoLand, I hope you’re ready.”


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