Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leonard Knight Leaves Salvation Mountain

Last week, Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain, asked his main assistant, Kevin Eubank, to take him to the hospital. He knew he was having cognitive issues. The hospital observed him for 72 hours and then released him to a long-term care facility with some form of dementia. So the upshot is that Leonard is no longer at his amazing creation.

Fortunately, Kevin had been working with Leonard for the last couple of years and has been trying to organize things legally to preserve the Mountain after Leonard passes. Last night, though, I got the word that Kevin died in his sleep.

Salvation Mountain is important not only as a fantastic folk art environment but also because of Leonard's heartfelt message that God is love. He spent thirty years building the place and it now receives thousands of visitors a year. Up until now, Leonard has tried to greet every one of these visitors to share his message.

Many times over the years some church or other would try to co-opt Leonard's mountain and message to serve their own, narrower vision, Leonard would not have it. His pure message was so universal, accepting and inclusive of all denominations that he could not see having it serve one particular dogmatic system.

When Leonard started having cognitive issues, which actually was more than a few years ago, to the rescue came Kevin Eubank. Kevin had had heart trouble and I think a heart attack which changed his life. He decided to devote himself to helping Leonard preserve the Mountain and its spiritual message and to protect Leonard from various vultures who sought to either take Leonard's money and resources or to take the Mountain for their own purposes.

It is interesting that, only a few days after Leonard was put into a care facility, that Kevin would die peacefully in his sleep. It is as if Leonard was the real attraction and his message was the purpose of the whole thing and Kevin was granted a few more years of life to insure that Leonard, the mountain, and the message would continue on. That job done, Kevin's work was through. It is hard not to believe that divine forces were at work. Although I am often very skeptical of this kind of thing. I feel that this is a great possibility and it comforts me to assume it's true.

The Mountain is being watched and protected against vandalism since neither Kevin or Leonard are there now. Efforts are being made by many to preserve the site, particularly to preserve it in the spirit that Leonard wants it preserved. Here is the latest update on the status of the mountain as of yesterday, December 14, 2011.
Here is Kevin's last update on Leonard's condition and how he is faring at the care facility.

I hope that Salvation Mountain does get preserved as some sort of park although the government's stance on religion may preclude their official involvement. It may be up to a private foundation or organization to keep the site intact and available to the public. Kevin had been in contact with an organization called SPACES, which exists to preserve art and cultural sites. They were instrumental in the long process to preserve and protect the Watts Towers in Los Angeles. I emailed them yesterday to tell them about Kevin's death. They said they will do what they can to help preserve the Mountain but said also that it is a difficult situation.

Without Leonard there, it will be a bit empty. People came from all over the world to see Salvation Mountain as an art site and they got the happy surprise of meeting Leonard, experiencing his loving presence and hearing his message to the world that God is Love.

Visit the Salvation Mountain website.