New discoveriesSection 4A, Entertainment News, Scene Out Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Social Chaos: Scene Out
A few hours away from San Diego in Niland, Calif. 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles, in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County just east of the Salton Sea and about an hour and a half from Palm Springs, you will encounter Salvation Mountain. The artist, Leonard Knight, an Army veteran of the Korean War, discovered God in a life-altering experience in 1967 while visiting his sister in San Diego. He visited her often and decided to settle a few hours away in Niland in 1984 when he began painting the mountain with messages of devotion to God. “I painted the mountain because I love God and I love people,” Knight’s quoted as saying in the on-site description. The first message you read upon arrival is “God is Love”.
The colorful mountain also includes flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns and birds and is surrounded by cars that are also painted. The mountain is approximately 40 feet high and spans about 150 feet across and is made of local adobe clay and mostly donated paint. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the two decades of dedication that Knight put into his art. He lived simply on a small Social Security check and slept in the back of his truck. Love is written everywhere and he believed that love expanded to everyone.
In 2001, the Folk Art Society of America declared it a National Folk Art site worthy of protection and preservation. Knight died Feb. 10, 2014 at the age of 82. Dedicated volunteers currently preserve Salvation Mountain. http://www.salvationmountain.us
Homeowners that take the time to decorate the outside of their houses during the holidays always impress me. I can only think of joyful reasons as to why someone would dedicate so much time and money to the task. My mom was able to visit me from the East Coast this year so I took her to Chula Vista to visit the 55 houses that make up Christmas Circle.
There were peace signs, cartoon characters, religious scenes, snow scenes and of course Santa. One house stood out as it was dedicated to Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn who died June 16, 2014 at the age of 54. Gwynn is one of the rare players that spent his entire 20-year career with one team. He is often refereed to as “Mr. Padre”. He finished his career with 3,141 hits and a .338 batting average. He also earned seven Silver Slugger awards for offense and batted .371 in his two World Series appearances. Gwynn at San Diego State coached one of the dwellers, Craig Rasmussen, for four years. The display featured a cutout of Gwynn, a Mr. Padre sign, baseballs, Christmas trees, a Padres sign, a prominent number 19 cut out and Santa wearing a San Diego State shirt.
I didn’t know much about Leonard Knight or Tony Gwynn prior to visiting these two locations. It makes me wonder if how I’m living my life right now impacts people. They lived their life doing things they enjoyed and inspired people in the process.
And with that my friends I bid adieu to 2014. I look forward to sharing new adventures with you in 2015. Get in your car and take a drive, you never know who or what you’ll discover. Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself you never knew.
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