After today, I do believe that over the course if my trip, if anything was disappointing, or boring, or perplexing, this made up for it all.
Leonard Knight, who turns 80 years old next weekend, is the artist of the mountain. He began creating it about 39 years ago as a quest to spread the message that "God is love". In my opinion he has succeeded and couldn't have done a better job at spreading that message with the mountain. Not only does the piece of art literally say "God is love", but the experience that each and every visitor to the mountain has, is a message of God's love. Leonard himself, too, is so full of love and joy. I told him that if my art ever has an impact on people the way that his has, I would consider myself special.
This is the view from the top of the mountain.
This is the view of "God" from nearly the top of the mountain:
One of the many rooms within the mountain:
A pile of art supplies at the base:
A magical forest inside the mountain:
Leonard will tell you right away that he wasn't always successful. At first he wanted to spread his message with a hot air balloon that he spent 14 years trying to make. Like the mountAin, it said on the side of it "God is Love". But he was never able to get it off the ground and the materials deteriorated. Then he started working on the mountain instead.
During this trip, I've given some of my art prints to different artists as a way to connect with them. When Leonard looked through my prints, he pulled out the painting of Roxanne with the hot air balloons and said he wanted to especially hold onto that picture. Then he told me that it reminded him of a song he wrote one time about a little girl, and he sung it to me. My mom recorded it for me on her phone:
Next weekend will be Leonard's 80th birthday celebration, and as a surprise to him, some people have arranged for a replica of his hot hot air balloon to fly up over the mountain, hopefully fulfilling his original dream.
I took quite a few pictures of Leonard and plan on painting a colorful portrait of him and his mountain. I wish I could start on it today! He seemed genuinely excited that a "famous painter" was going to make him go down in history "just like Mona Lisa".... I don't know who told him I was famous, or maybe he is mistaking me for someone else! Either way, I'm on a mission now, and feel more inspired than ever!
Our view as we drove away: