A Visit to Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

This gigantic folk art mountain lives about 3 hours south of LA, out in the middle of the desert. There’s not much else out here

Slab City

and it’s not on the way to anywhere, except the Mexican border, so you need to be specifically determined to see it. Which I was. And I found it remarkable.

Salvation Mountain

This abandoned structure lives on the outskirts of Salvation Mountain and it’s proposed purpose is a place to leave baggage. I found the implications of that act very moving.

It hard to capture the Salvation Mountain scale in a decent picture so this will have to do

Salvation Mountain

Built by one man., Mr. Leonard Knight, between 1984 and 2011. Apparently Leonard lived with his many cats in the back of one of the trucks scattered about the property, which is no small feat in the desert. It was approximately 107 when I was there yesterday. From what I can gather, all the art materials were found or scavenged or donated and even though Leonard died last year, there is a small army of volunteers who are keeping the place up with help from visitor donations.

That upkeep is no small task because the place is vast with archways

Salvation Mountain

And little altar spaces

Salvation Mountain

Containing plenty of gifts left by visitors

Salvation Mountain

Folk art has charm and humility, qualities that pervade this creation. However, this creation also has the feeling of a ward or a sanctuary, perhaps against a greater evil. The sinner’s prayer is repeated incessantly and throughout the mountain is this reminder

Salvation Mountain

That God is Love, that love is universal and in the words of Leonard himself “Love God and keep it simple.”

Wherever Leonard is now I hope he’s surrounded by love. I also hope his Salvation Mountain creation survives for quite some time. It’s well worth a visit.

Tomorrow: East Jesus sculpture garden, which has nothing to do with Jesus.

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