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Monday, October 24, 2011

Salvation Mountain

This is the real reason I came to California. Everything else that we've seen up to this point was just because "well since we're in the area, we'd might as well...". But this, Salvation Mountain, was the thing I'd been stalking for a while, via the Internet. I do stalk people online too, but this was the first mountain I'd ever stalked.

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:

Another view:

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:


arb1076 said...

Naomi, you see things so differently. I wish I could look through your eyes sometime. I've never even heard of these places and I lived in California for 8 years. What a fun opportunity for you. Becca

Aunt Donna Mc said...

Cool! Mr. Leonard looks like a dear, sweet soul. I hope he has a fantastic birthday celebration. And I can't wait to see your painting of him. =)

Naomi said...

Becca- it's sad that you guys didn't get to go to Salvation Mountain before leaving California. I wasn't aware of it until you guys had already left. I think visiting the mountain should have been required curriculum for graduating from the seminary. It was so amazing.