The Secret of Life

“The secret of life is pursuing one thing.”

– Curly, City Slickers, 1991

The artist below, Leonard Knight, is that rare kind of individual who pursued one thing–that is, one project–for most of his life. Upon meeting him, one can’t help but sense a joy that resolutely proves Curly’s statement. Mr. Knight built his beloved “Salvation Mountain” near the Salton Sea in Slab City, California over several decades in the desert, using hay and adobe clay mixed with paint and other materials brought from visitors near and far.

While Leonard no longer resides on the property, I had the good fortune of meeting him at his mountain with a few friends in 2008. He greeted us the same way he greeted all of his guests: with utter joy in what he had made, and for whom he made it. Out of the countless people who went out to see Salvation Mountain over the years, one of them became the subject of the true story “Into The Wild”, resulting in a film which allowed Leonard to play himself. In the film, you’ll get to meet Leonard just the way he ought to be remembered. God bless him, I believe he now lives in the care of a home near Palm Springs.


Person of the Week: Leonard Knight, Visual Artist / Desert Deacon

Leonard Knight

Photo by Angela Carone


Salvation Mountain


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Leonard shows the group (Mike Jones, Haley, Mat K) how he mixes adobe & hay together, then punches the clay to make his “flower” shape.