Leonard Knight, a monumental icon of outsider art as the creative mind behind Salvation Mountain, near to Slab City, east of the Salton Sea in southern California.
Knight built the mountain over more than 3 decades, for one simple reason, to spread his message that "God Is Love". He found God in 1967, at the age of 35. Back in his home state of Vermont, church leaders rejected Knight's simple message of salvation, frustrated he looked for a away to get his message across.
That's when he decided to start on what would eventually become Salvation Mountain. As the mountain grew, so did Knight's fame as an outsider artist. As the garishly painted artwork of concrete, adobe, straw and found materials grew on the side of once barren hillside. In 1999 Jarvis Cocker, leader singer with teh Brit-Pop band Pulp made a series of outsider art documentaries, in which he interviewed Knight. The Folk Art Society of America declared it a "a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection" in 2000. In an address to the United States Congress on May 15th, 2002, 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" In 2007 Knight and his mountain had a small role in the movie independent movie Into the Wild, cementing Knight and his mountain in the cultural landscape of America.
Knight died in February 2014, aged 82, in a convalescent hospital where he had been a resident for more than two years. Local volunteers maintain the mountain, in an attempt to save it from the ravages of the harsh conditions of Colorado Desert where is resides as a monument to one man's dream.
Weird Retro Fact: Salvation Mountain is mentioned in the article Salton Sea & Slab City: Life, Death & Hope In The Badlands.