By veronique | September 26, 2014
TAGGED AS Art, California, Desert, Jesus, Joshua Tree, Landscape Art, Leonard Knight, Niland, Palm Springs, Religion, Salvation Mountaing, San Diego, Sculpture, Sinners Prayer
For those of you that know me, once I get something into my head it is stuck there. I call it determination, others may call it stubborness. I had seen this photograph of Salvation Mountain some time ago, and when we were planning our trip around California there was no negotiating, we had to find a way to stop there. In all honesty I didn’t know very much about it and was under the impression that it was quite close to Joshua Tree – it is not. It is at the base of Salton Sea – which is a lake in the middle of the Colarado desert – surrounded by as far as we could see close to nothing, in other words it is in the middle of nowhere! Ha, I think it might even be closer to Phoenix than Los Angeles (I’m just kidding) but its close enough to the Mexican border that we had to go through border control when we drove back. Thank god I had my Austrian passport, I worry my Colombian passport may have caused us some problems.
When you arrive at the site, you are overwhelmed - it is profoundly strange yet so joyful and vibrant. There are so many colors next to a flat and arid landscape – its incredibe! My first thought when I arrived was what a perfect spot for a fashion shoot – it has appeared in a couple of films and music videos, understandably, it does make a dramatic setting.
Salvation Mountain was created by Leonard Knight, and is made from adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint. Knight was working as a guitar teacher, and in 1967 he went to visit his sister who was living in San Diego. It was one Wednesday whilst he was there, at 10.30 in the morning in his van all by himself (aged 35) that he accepted Jesus into his heart and he hasn’t be the same ever since. His passion unwavering, his dedication intense.
Leonard initially attempted to created a hot air baloon that would have the Sinners prayer written on it – he felt that this would be the best way for people to see the prayer. After 14 years of trying to promote his undying love for God, all he had to show was an endless sea of rotted-out fabric and eventually admitted defeat. Soon after, Leonard built his first mountain and after four years it collapsed. He took this as a message from the Lord that his mountain was not safe and vowed to start again. Over the next several years, he rebuilt his mountain using adobe mixed with straw to hold it together – it eventually evolved into what it is today. The coating of paint protects the structure – the thicker the paint, the better and stronger it becomes. Leonard estimates that he used well over 100,000 gallons of paint on his mountain. If your ever in the neighborhood (or not) its worth the trip!