Salvation Mountain

California USA, 1 October 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

(Click on any image for a larger view).

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Next we visited Salvation Mountain, near the south west corner of the Salton Sea.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Leonard Knight created Salvation Mountain.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

He came to this area in 1984 with a massive 230-foot high hot air balloon he had sewn together over a six year period.  It had ten-foot high letters on the side; “God is Love”.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

He came to Camp Dunlop or Slab City, near the south west corner of the Salton Sea but more on that in the next post.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

He had help from the locals at Slab City to launch the balloon but when it came time for the launch, he discovered that the material had rotted so the launch never took place.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Inside the Hogan.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

So, instead of the balloon, he decided to display his God is Love message on the face of a small nearby mesa.  However, concrete was expensive and he used too much sand.  So after three years of hard work, when he must have thought he was making progress, his creation slithered down the face of the mesa into a gloopy mess.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Undeterred, in 1989 he started again, using a small donated front-end loader to cut more deeply onto the hill and using metal scrap to anchor his new façade into the hill.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

He proceeded without needing regular income, scavenging materials and receiving donations of paint, money and food.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Inside “The Museum”.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

In 1994 there was some controversy about the presence of a private monument on public land and the local government threatened to bulldoze the mountain due to the claimed presence of lead in the paint.  This produced public support, including a documentary from a Los Angeles film maker and the local authority relented.  An independent assay also showed no lead in the soil.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

It was declared “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” by the Folk Art Society of America in 2000.  In 2002, Senator Barbara Boxer of California entered Salvation Mountain into the Congressional Record as a national treasure.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

Leonard Knight aimed to repaint the mountain every year to ensure the paint remains thick but he died in 2014.  In his absence, volunteers continue this maintenance.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

This is his truck.  He initially used it to transport scavenged materials and at least later, lived on the back of it.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

“He lived in the funky camper on the back of his old flatbed”.  I presume this is it (or perhaps, was it).

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