Monday, March 5, 2012

Salvation Mountain - Desert Folk Art or OCD?

Salvation Mountain
I recently made some posts relating to Slab City, dry land Sea Serpents, and assorted other desert oddities. Today's post, may just be the weirdest most impressive of the lot.  A guy named Leonard Knight started on this little bit of folk art in 1984. After more than 20 years of work obsession, and Mr. Knight in the "hospital" no longer on the premises, we are left with his life's work; Salvation Mountain. It's pretty clear that his theme was "God is Love."  Agree or disagree with that as you will. Everyone will have to admit that this guy was committed to what he was doing.

Talk about in the middle of nowhere. The closest civilization to what you are about to see is (drum roll please), none other than the modern day metropolis of (that's right folks!) Slab City!

Here's the main part of Salvation Mountain. It's made of hay bails, logs, paint, and anything else the guy could find. To add some scale to the place, please note the person standing between the "O" and "D: the right of the cross.


This structure is made up of cave like rooms and atrium like areas. 


Of all the things I saw there, I think I liked this tree the best.  I would have loved to been able to move the home made bench and shade from the photo.


One of the "atrium" like areas. This one must have been 30 feet high.


One of several old cars and trucks. Of course they all were adorned with the artists "theme." 


Considering that it was made of junk and old tree limbs, this was pretty cool looking.


This photo was taken from the top of the "mountain." In the background, is the road to Slab City. I guess this makes Salvation Mountain a suburb of Slab City.


That's a lot of work to show off your bowling trophies.


Just an alternate view of the same stuff.


A walkway or hall through the structure. Yes, that's an automobile door in the background. 
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This place was given a national award as one of the premier examples of folk art in the United States. I wonder how many awards it received for being maybe the biggest example EVER of  massive obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
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We've been at home for about three weeks and moss is starting to grow on us.  So, it's time to hit the road again. On Friday we are once again heading for the desert. Not this desert though. This time we'll be heading for the mighty Mojave Desert. We'll be staying (in our RV) near a town called Needles. Needles is very often the hottest spot in the United States. I can't say we'll be spending any time at all in the actual town though. There is much to see in this area. Our side trips should take us into Arizona and Nevada also. 

UPDATE:
Leonard Knight, the creator of this giant work of desert folk art, passed away on February 10, 2014. Think what you will about his art, but you can't deny the man's dedication.










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76 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's crazy but quite impressive. And huge! Does it just sit there or does someone watch over it to protect the artwork?

becca said...

how cool is all that art work

SparkleFarkle said...

WOWZA! Leonard Knight's is "monumentally sensational! Thanks for opening my eyes up to it!

Lolamouse said...

Wow. At least he's not obsessing about Jodie Foster and shooting presidents! I say "Art Saves!"

trav4adventures said...

Oh, I can't wait to read about Needles. Didn't Wyatt Earp spend time there? You'll love the road...it goes up...it goes down...up and down. I threw up on it once.

Sharon Wagner said...

I love your subliminal messages. It kind of reminds of where Fred Flintstone would live if he was on acid!

Bossy Betty said...

What can I say? I love this stuff.

Wherever you are, is the hottest place, Patrick. Shoot lots of good stuff for us!

Brian said...

I don't know if it is OCD or not, but I like it!

TexWisGirl said...

this is some funky sh**! :) really enjoyed it, though!

hope your trip is a fun one! stay safe and keep clicking!

Mama Zen said...

That's the oddest thing I've ever seen!

Rek said...

At least they are expressing themselves creatively, may be the bleakness of the desert prompts them. Aren't most artists kinda OCD personalities, we stick to it even when nothing comes out of it, a labour of love.

Talli Roland said...

Um... wow. I don't even know what to say! Clearly a lot of work went into that!

Have a great trip. Can't wait for more photos!

Phillip said...

Impressive to say the least.

Ms. A said...

Wow, that's crazy and impressive! Does he live in there?

Have fun on your journey. I'll await the photos.

Icy BC said...

What a colorful, fun, and interesting place to see all of these artworks, Pat.

Have a safe trip to Needles! Sounds like another fun place to discover.

Sylvia K said...

Amazing and colorful and you do find the great stuff, Pat! Hey, I guess it kept him off the streets!! I've been to Needles -- make sure your air conditioning is working!! Looking forward to your next set of pics!

Sylvia

Budd said...

wow, that is, message excluded, gaudy. does it attract many people.

Belle said...

I would bet this man lived a very happy life. All that work would have kept him busy anyway! I love the little tunnels and rooms. How cute is that?

I'll be interested to see your next photos of the Mojave desert. God bless.

Dawn said...

Wow. That's a lot of crazy colorful "work".
I think it's funny moss is growing on you in 3 weeks.
I'm covered and suffocated then;)
Have another good getaway...love it!

altadenahiker said...

I love the desert, but I'd never live there. It does funny things to the mind. But then again, the mind does funny things to the desert.

Speaking of which, off to read your take on Slab City.

Leovi said...

Very nice photos, I love these original works in the desert, it does not hurt a touch of color in a place so barren. Greetings.

Copyboy said...

I can't believe that's a car door. wow! Amazing pics!

Bouncin Barb said...

Interesting to say the least! Can't wait to see and hear about your Mojave Desert trip. Enjoy it and take lots of pics for us!!

Al Penwasser said...

This is so cool. You wouldn't see anything like this in Pennsylvania. Well, we DO have the Amish....

Chuck said...

I envy your "pick up and go" lifestyle Pat. You are in the neatest area of the country for all this weird stuff you find. Your site is a better tour guide than any book on the subject...unless of course you want to make a book on the subject...just a thought.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I'm in awe of you for finding such gems, out in the middle of nowhere, time and again. Wow. His work is so impressive, entertaining, and inspiring.

I think I stayed in Needles once and don't remember anything except the name. And that it was hot.

Keep enjoying and sharing your adventures. Thanks, Pat.
xoRobyn

Pat Tillett said...

Alex - That's a good way to put it. It pretty much just sits there, but there are a couple of people living on the site and trying to keep it up.

becca - It is darn cool!

SparkleFarkle - He sure is. This place has a plaque naming as one of America's folk art treasures.

Lolamouse - HA! That's pretty funny! And true! "Art saves!" That's a good one...

trav4adventures - You are right about Wyatt Earp in Needles. He worked a mine claim there in his later years. When we were kids we used to love that road (unless you had to go to the bathroom).

Sharon - Thanks Sharon! Now I have the theme song from the Flintstones stuck in my head...

Pat Tillett said...

Betty - Thanks so much Betty! I'm lucky that way. I'll do my best.

Brian - I'm with you!

TexWisGirl - Thanks! It sure is. We always try to be safe and I always travel with at least one camera on me at all times.

Mama Zen - Indeed! I'm glad you liked it...

Rek - Yep! It really does stick out in the middle of nothing and nowhere. OCD can be very usefull, that's for sure.

Talli - I know! A ton of work! Thanks Talli. Hoping to have a good and interesting time.

Pat Tillett said...

Phillip - thanks so much Phillip!

Ms A - I'm pretty sure he is permanently hospitalized for something. I promise that we'll have fun!

Icy BC - It sure was. There are some other interesting things in that area. I'll get to them eventually.

Sylvia K - Thanks Sylvia, we make it a point to find the stuff that is off the major tourist trails. It won't be too hot in Needles this time of year. I'll be clicking away.

Budd - It is VERY gaudy! It doesn't really attract that many people because it's pretty far off the beaten track.

Belle - I hope he was happy, because he was very isolated while creating his art. Thanks my friend.

Pat Tillett said...

Dawn - VERY colorful! We've spent about a third of the past year either on the road or camped somewhere in our RV. I'm surprised at how quickly after we get home, that we are ready to go again. If not for our four cats, we would probably do it full time.

altadenahiker - That's how I feel about it also. Summer is just too hot to live there for me.

Leovi - Thanks! You are right and that is why color sticks out so much there.

Jesse - There is lot's of other strange things built into the place, but I didn't want to post too many photos.

Bouncin Barb - Thanks Barb! We'll do our best to have a good time and I'll be burning up my camera.

Al - I used to work in Washington DC and nothing else to do besides exploring all around that part of the country for half a year. ALL of my photos vanished! I'd really like to go there again. This time I'll use digital.

Chuck - Thanks Chuck! It took us a LONG LONG time to get to this point. You are right about there being so much to see and do out here. There is too much actually. I'm already stuck on a couple of "book" projects now. If I start another one, I'll A.D.D. myself into oblivion.

Robyn - thanks so much Robyn! I certainly do look in places that most folks don'e bother with. It does get mega hot in Needles, but not so much during this time of year. Thanks gain Robyn.

James said...

Very cool shots! Great folk art. I saw this place on TV years ago. Probably one of Huell Howser's shows.

#1Nana said...

You really do travel to the oddest places...and I'm so envious that you're putting all those miles on your RV. Ours has sat in the diveway all winter. I hope we will get to venture out in early spring.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

I'm glad you pointed out the person standing on the top of the mountain...the scale is amazing. What a project. Looking forward to your take on Needles. Rosemary

Brenda's Arizona said...

The tree kind of looks like a hanging tree??
What an interesting place. Looking forward to your photos of Needles - haven't been there for YEARS!

Shrinky said...

looks like some giant kid has gone crazy with the play-doh, to me!

TS Hendrik said...

On one hand I find the whole thing pretty cool. On the other hand I don't really like the confetti quality of the colors. I like more design, less randomness. I mean it kind of looks like a giant birthday cake melted.

On the other hand (I have a lot of hands)The sheer scale is impressive. It's incredibly interesting as a work of art at any rate.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I'm sorry but I've said it forever and I mean it - the desert is AWESOME. I mean, it's its own planet really. And only lunatics (and I mean that in the best possible way) live there. And possibly serial killers. Fantastic!

Pearl said...

Crazy, impressive, inspiring and just a wee bit frightening.

:-) I'll give him this: he found something he wanted to do and stuck with it.

Pearl

Pam said...

Now that is what I call 20 years of commitment and perseverance. You have to give him credit for his Godly artistic style.

Happy trails, Pat.
cheers :)

Reena Walkling said...

You share with us some of the most interesting (nad most unusual) places! Looking forward to your upcoming travels Pat!

Martha Z said...

Amazing! He must have had WAY too much time on his hands.

Cezar and Léia said...

Awesome place, looks like a movie scenery... In fact, I think I saw this place in a movie,but I can't remember details.Anyway,this place is very different and your pictures are great, congratulations!
Léia

Mynx said...

So quirky and colourful. One man's obsession becomes many peoples fascination.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos

John McElveen said...

Pat-- I wanna go on Walkabout with you just ONE time! The world and we would never be the same. You send us to such interesting places!!!

Thanks Buddy--This is awesome!

John

Lynda R Young said...

Oh wow, what an amazing place and an amazing devotion to his faith.

Sallie (FullTime-Life.com said...

Thanks for the memories!!!! When we were last there Leonard climbed down from that atrium where he was working to come and talk to us. Sigh! We're all getting older. He definitely was one of the most unique people I've ever met...obsessed for sure, but unique!

Have fun on the Mojave! Looking forward to seeing some more reminders of good old times.

Pat Tillett said...

James - thanks James! Now that you said, I think I might have seen it also on "California's Gold." I said that in an Oklahoma accent or course.

#1Nana - I do my best! You will have nicer weather pretty soon!

Rosemary - Like it or hate it, nobody can deny that the guy put everything he had into it.

Brenda - It was pretty interesting. I wish the artist was still around to talk to. I haven't been to Needles in quite a while either.

Shrinky - That's funny, it does look a lot like play-doh!

Tim - I know what you mean. Compared to all the drabness of scenery around it, the colors stand out a bit too much. The was really committed to his project and I was happy to see it.

Pat Tillett said...

The Vegetable Assassin - I agree with you! That's what I love about it. I can think of nothing better, than to hunt around the outskirts of little desert towns. You just never know what you will find.

Pearl - That first sentence made start singing "Kung Fu Fighting." Get it? Oh yeah, this guy stuck to his vision. I wish I could even do a little bit of that.

Pam - You sure do! I guess the guy would actually talk to you "back in the day." Thanks Pam!

Reena - Thanks so much! I hope I find some of those things on this upcoming adventure.

Martha Z - I'm pretty sure time was the one thing he had a lot of.

Leia - Thanks Leia! I appreciate it. It may well have been in a movie. I'm going to try and find out.

Pat Tillett said...

Mynx - It sure is! Sharing these things is my pleasure. However, I wouldn't want to be wandering around the desert on peyote and stumble across this...

John - Anytime John! My pleasure. I think I'm drawn to them (or them to me).

Lynda - It is amazing and you are so right about this guys devotion and commitment.

Sallie - My pleasure! I'm jealous that you got to speak to the guy. Unique is a good thing, right? Thanks so much! When I was young, I'd go to places like Needles, even during the summer time. NO MORE! I love the desert more than ever, but mostly during the winter, when it's cooler (in the 80's). Thanks Sallie.

Ebie said...

I hope Mr. Knight is doing alright. There's no one else to replace him.

The photo was taken at the Huntington Gardens.

Clarissa Draper said...

How do you find the coolest things? And in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for the photos.

Stephen Tremp said...

It's the Magic Bus's twin brother! What a long strange trip this is.

Nikki Rules said...

I believe I've been to Needles. With our years of racing and driving across the country, I'm pretty darn sure I've been there. And this massive display of OCD? Man, I'd love to be a part of a project like that... So cool!

I've seen stuff like that, oh darn, where was it? ALong the I-15? Nebraska? New Mexico? Somewhere around there... definitely saw stuff like that. And I would have imagined the people behind such art to be funky young peeps, but NO! So wrong, they were OLD OLD FARTS!

Reminds me I'm getting to that old fartage type...

:(

Bwahahaha!

Ann Best said...

Hi, Pat. Saw your comment just now, that you read my guest post with Glynis Smy. Thanks for dropping by.

That tree is my favorite also! OCD. Well, it's important to do something in our lifetime, and even if it seems crazy to some, this folk art is in its own way quite amazing - *I* think.

I have been through Needles, and like you, through the desert, many times. Say hello to Arizona and Nevada for me. I have one living aunt left in Wickenburg, Arizona. Part of me misses the desert from my home here in humid Virginia. Enjoy the trip!
Ann Best, Memoir Author of In the Mirror and Imprisoned

Lindy MacDuff said...

Different strokes for different folks, as they say!

Talei said...

Wow. That is amazing, I've not seen anything like this before! Hope you are well! ;-)

Anthony J. Langford said...

That is dedication! Fantastic art... and fantastic that you are getting out and about and enjoying life.. great shots too as always...

Living In Williamsburg Virginia said...

Wow, what an amazing work/obsession. We can't decide which we liked better - your photos of the work or your description of it. Irrespective, obviously OCD can be an advantage.

Darryl and Ruth :)

TheChieftess said...

The desert certainly does foster some interesting expressions of art and philosophy!!!
Thanks for sharing Pat!

Jerry said...

I appreciate the effort that Mr. Knight put into this. The results, and the message, is..... interesting.

Baby Sister said...

Wow. Just wow. The time that must have taken him...that's just crazy!!

Jenny said...

How crazy AND fun!

If it wasn't for my husband reining me in I suspect I might be willing to attempt something like this!

I'd definitely like to go see this someday.

If for no other reason, than just to scare my husband...

ha!

Stickup Artist said...

Oh! I've always wanted to see this place! Another excellent report from the road. I think we might have a good wildflower year, the conditions seem to be right, so maybe I'll make it. That deep blue sky is making me crazy! And I'm crazy about the Mojave! Have a safe and wonderful trip and Happy Trails!

pitchertaker said...

Pat -- think you should move to Slab City, there is a lifetime of work there, for sure.

Magia da Inês said...

Muito criativo!!!!

º°❤ Boa semana!
°º✿ Beijinhos.
º° ✿ ✿⊱╮ Brasil

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

That's just the COOLEST! I'd love to visit there. Love it. Thanks for sharing, Pat. Now brush off that moss and take us on another adventure.

Genie said...

Have a great trip and do nut burn up. I must admit I am a bit jealous. This post has been the most fun for me to view tonight. This guy was definitely OCD but in a most unique way. Much better that compulsive washing of the hands. I would love going into all the little rooms. This is one awesome creation. genie

Japy said...

You always showing us such an original stuff. Great shots. Greetings.

Arlee Bird said...

I've read about this place and seen it on TV. Someday I want to check it out in person. Now with gas prices it would cost a fortune to get there.

Lee
The Dog Lived (and So Did I)
Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

busana muslim said...

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..

Margaret Benbow said...

I think you nailed it when you called Salvation Mountain the most massive example of OCD ever! Formerly I thought that title belonged to the old ballet dancer who built an opera house in the middle of Death Valley. But in both cases, I really like and respect what they did.They were making their dreams real.

Sarah said...

incredible and truly beautiful.

Betty Manousos@ CUT and DRY said...

fun and crazy!

you always find the hottest stuff/places, pat.
thank you for sharing with us:)

Pam Tucker said...

Wow! Fascinating and crazy at the same time. I especially liked the thing with the tree limbs! ;)

Francisca said...

All I can say to this is: oh lordy lord! What a... what?!

There's something very cool about two blogging friends sitting at two sides of the globe perusing each other's posts at the same time!

Anonymous said...

I think this guy Leonard who created all this art was a very talented individual.