Friday, March 5, 2010

california sights Salvation Mountain

It always excites me to come upon "found art" like this heart, and I can scarcely imagine a more unusual place to find this than on the shores of the Salton Sea, a very strange place, indeed. Jim had wanted to visit this place for a long time, so we set off from Palm Springs two days ago on the hour+ drive south. The "sea" is actually more like a large lake, very salty and as you get close to the water, you notice a very strange fishy smell. That may be due to the dead fish washed up on the shore, or the small barnacle type shells that also litter the shore.

There is also an abundance of birds, and great flocks of pelicans which I was delighted to see. Apparently there are many, many species of birds along the shores. This "sea" is actually below sea level, and it shrinks and expands from year to year. It used to be much larger and was quite the vacation destination many years ago. Nothing of that previous time remains now.
Our main reason for coming to the area, however, was to see Salvation Mountain, the work of Leonard Knight. Nearly 40 years ago he experienced a religious conversion, and tried various ways to proclaim the message that God is Love to the world. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he created Salvation Mountain from adobe and clay, painting it with more than 1000,000 gallons of donated paint over the years.
This is the "sinners prayer" that is written over and over on the mountain. We were lucky to get to meet Leonard, and a younger helper who told us that he and four friends had repainted the entire mountain in November for Leonard's birthday. Leonard is a very sweet, wiry fellow in his 70's or 80's--hard to tell, and was delighted to tell us that his mountain is now on Google earth, and brings in 300 visitors a day! It is such a joyful, colorful testament to his faith that it was truly inspiring to us, and made me want to create something from straw and clay at home.
This is one of the several trucks on his property that will no longer be traveling anywhere.
He seems happy that his message is being received and appreciated by so many people.
I think I want to spend more time visiting outsider art like this. It is so inspiring!


  1. Count me in for that field trip when you go visit outsider art! I've seen this on a documentary but I'm sure it is much better in person. I can see one of these in your front yard.

  2. Yes, I think there are many such places all over the world, and in the US. Of course one of the most famous is Watts Towers in LA which Jim and I visited years ago.

    Well, maybe not in the front yard...