Salvation Mountain – Art in the Califorian Desert
90 miles from Palm Springs, CA in the middle of the desolate wind blown Colorado Desert, a few of miles from Slab City (a whole different story) and near the beautifully awful Salton Sea lies Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain was created by local resident Leonard Knight (1931–2014) out of adobe, straw and paint – lots and lots and lots of paint (all toxic free btw). It encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses, – its philosophy built around the Sinners’ Prayer which is the focal point of the mountain captured in a large red heart.
The current Salvation Mountain is actually the second of its kind. Knight began the first Salvation Mountain in 1980, though it was incredibly unstable. The Mountain fell into a heap of rubble, though Knight was not discouraged; he rather saw it as God’s way of letting him know the Mountain was not safe. He began a second Salvation Mountain, the one currently standing, stating that he had the chance this time to “do it with more smarts”
The Folk Art Society of America declared it “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” in the year 2000. In an address to the US Congress California Senator Barbara Boxer described it as “a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives”
After close to 40 years of working on his vision Leonard Knight passed away in 2014 at the age of 83. Concern has been raised for the future of the site, which requires constant maintenance due to the harsh surrounding environment. Many visitors bring paint to donate to the project, and a group of volunteers has been working to protect and maintain the site. In 2012, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support the project.