Tequila’s Punk Museum Comes to Joshua Tree

The Punk Museum at Taylor Junction, Joshua Tree, March 9, 2024. Photos by Monique A. LeBleu.

Last month, the LA Beat’s own Tequila Mockingbird joined forces with graphic artist, Rolo Castillo, and AI artist and inventor, Phil Bosua, to bring “the past, present, and future of Punk” through the art of AI and the Punk Museum to the Taylor Junction Gallery in Joshua Tree.

According to Mockingbird, she, Castillo and Bosua–the latter two as The AKA–, together provided the art for the exhibit that represents the past, present and future of Punk through the art of AI. Beginning the evening’s vibe was Punk Yoga by Sunshine in the outdoor space, and then later on stage People of Earth, Tequila Mockingbird and the Blond Moondust, and Atomik Kangaroo performed at the free event.

“There’s a lot of pop-up underground art energy going on, truly,” she said of Joshua Tree and its artists and venues.

The Punk Museum at Taylor Junction, Joshua Tree, March 9, 2024.

With years of creating such community-based projects for the Punk Museum in L.A., Mockingbird said she would find a space, often donated, and then “put friends’ art together,” where the gallery events often opened with live music–something she has felt has been missing in a city environment filled with corporate art and music.

“Being in this little town in L. A., you know, we’re getting what’s being spoonfed to us. But we’re not getting the real deliciousness that’s waiting for us out there,” she said. “I think it’s a perfect marriage [with] Rolo’s gallery. It isn’t just dedicated to physical art, but also musical art.” The artists came to meet when Mockingbird was invited to Taylor Junction by members of the Swords of Fatima and Pop Defect, who recently played at the venue, “And the Joshua Tree Punk Museum chapter was born!”

For the future, the hope is to make it a great trip for people to get away from cities, see the beautiful desert, “and maybe get some spiritual enlightenment, punk rock style,” she said. “We’re going to be putting together some travel packages, as well, so that people can come out and know where to go in Joshua Tree, where to hang out, and where all the parties are.”

As an extension of the Punk Museum’s work, Mockingbird also currently works with the UCLA Archives where their Library Special Collections Punk Archives features The Janet Cunningham Papers dedicated to her friend and agent, the late Janet Cunningham. It is with the archives that she also produces a podcast called Punkast, where she interviews punk artists past and present.

An AI image of Tequila Mockingbird at the Punk Museum at Taylor Junction, Joshua Tree, March 9, 2024.

For Mockingbird’s gallery contributions in this installation, Castillo printed her own AI work directly at his studio in Joshua Tree, where it was installed collectively. Using various AI online applications, she’s reimagined her own pictures into portraits from different eras in a project that began out of a desire to both reinvent her own destiny and that of black people historically underrepresented in art.

“Because black people were not in any of the art, of these [that she chose], it’s really hard to find a Picasso or a Van Gogh or anything that has a black person in it,” she said. “So I’m taking my destiny and I’m choosing the best artists in the world and having them reconfigure myself as their model so that I can be included in the conversation.”

Throughout the gallery–including in its spacious bathroom–dayglow dominates the exhibit with reprints of dozens of vibrant, 3D/neon-like poster art largely done by Castillo in the ’90s, with many for Goldenvoice. Castillo began his apprenticeship with graphic artist Richard Duardo where they worked together at Duardo’s studio in the early ’80s across from The American Hotel in Downtown LA’s Arts District.

According to an interview in Tales of the American, Castillo began his work there in his late teens and while living at The American. In the ’90s, he would later collaborate with many artists at the 50 Bucks Studio and mixed gallery/music space next door and connected to Al’s Bar at Seventh and Sante Fe, he said.

Busoa, whose work represents the future of punk through AI, depicts several punk icons in fantasy graphics where they occupy a space together that never existed before. His works cover the ceilings and walls in the comfortable front living room-styled lounge space of Taylor Junction–including above several of the vintage pinball machines which animate the lounge.

“He was one of the first who started creating art with AI,” said Castillo, and that Busoa’s work has also included inventions that now change how we program and control colors in LED light systems through our telephones.

The exhibit work is not Bosua’s first intersection into the AI world. He’s also written two books with A I–“God is a Machine: The First Conversation” and “The Great Deception: The Second Conversation”–both of which are published transcripts from of a question and answer interview by Bosua with an AI source over a several week period.

The Punk Museum at Taylor Junction, Joshua Tree, March 9, 2024.

With Mockingbird as promoter, booking the musical entertainment which adjoins that of the exhibit, she will merge artists both from LA and Joshua Tree. The gallery remains a community of work where none of the works in the gallery are for sale, and will likely continue at the gallery as an evolving piece.

“For now, we know that [the Punk Museum installation] will stay there for the Summer,” said Castillo. “But we are just thinking of just continuing to add to it.”

For a yet unnamed 420 show coming up, Mockingbird is currently programming a show to be hosted at Taylor Junction with the museum where she is looking to include Shimmerbed, Peg Leg Love, Swords of Fatima, and Mockingbird with Zeppussy as well.

On Friday, May 17, 2024, Frightwig, Cult of Helios, and Alien Probe are currently scheduled to play at Taylor Junction. She is also talking to artists Gitane Dimone, Paul Rosler from the Screamers, and others, indicating that she is keeping “that door open” to include other artists.

Although she is taking a brief hiatus from the project to join Nina Hagen to sing in Germany during much of May, the installation and additional projects will still continue on in the high desert.

“It’s gonna be a Summer of Punk in Joshua Tree!,” she said.

Taylor Junction and the Punk Museum is open Friday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., during its scheduled events, and for Artwalk Nights on the 2nd Saturdays of the month for Joshua Tree Downtown Nights. It is located at 61732 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 and for more information, including on the ongoing projects, visit Tequila Mockingbird’s Punk Museum and Taylor Junction on Facebook.

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About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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