When I was in Springfield visiting Elsie and Emma at Red Velvet I was talking about my travel plans (or lack thereof), and Emma suggested I make my way to Salvation Mountain on my way back up the west coast. I had never heard of Salvation Mt. before so I googled it and determined that yes indeed, I must visit.
Salvation Mountain is one elderly man's life's work. Leonard Knight started following Jesus at the age of 35 and felt that he must tell the world about this life changing faith. He had an enthusiasm for the Lord that was misunderstood by most, and eventually decided that the way to get through to people was to put his message on a hot air balloon and fly around with his balloon proclaiming the good news. He began crafting a patchwork balloon spelling out words and various symbols, but unfortunately he was never able to make the balloon function properly to get it airborne. After 14 years of trying to make his balloon fly, he gave up. He decided to try another method of proclaiming his faith. This time he started constructing a colorful "mountain" out of cement and paint. He built up his Salvation Mountain and emblazoned it with splashes of vibrant color, positive messages, and Bible passages. After four years of work, his mountain collapsed due to the weight of the cement and the lack of structural integrity. Unfazed, Leonard started over, this time utilizing a method he'd been experimenting with – native adobe clay. He rebuilt the mountain using adobe and straw, adding on until it became what it is today. He's now moved on to build a cave-like domed structure with criss-crossing logs and various nooks, also filled with bright colors and messages of love. At the time I visited Salvation Mountain in December of 2011, Leonard was still there working away and I got the chance to meet him and chat briefly, but according to Wikipedia he was placed in a long-term care facility later that month for dementia.
Here in Tacoma we don't have anything quite as intense as the one-of-a-kind Salvation Mt. but the downtown graffiti garages have a similar colorful and vibrant vibe. I suspect the cryptic messages aren't the same as Leonard's, but both boast beautiful shapes and forms, rendered in striking bright colors. I've only taken blog photos here once before, but I'd really love to come down more frequently as it's a really fun place! The Garages are a pretty cool project the city has started to create a space to legally create graffiti art, giving graffiti artists a canvas for their medium. I have always thought graffiti was beautiful, and even got the chance to study under José Parlá for a few weeks when he came to my school's art department for a brief residency. Man, I would kill to have one of his pieces hanging on my wall. So incredibly gorgeous. Maybe someday...
Check out my previous posts in this series here and here!
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