Arts & Entertainment

Leonard Knight, artist at Salvation Mountain, dies

Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
Leonard Knight enjoys the relatively cool temperature of one of his structures of straw bales and adobe near Salvation Mountain May 30, 2002 near Niland, CA, east of the Salton Sea.
David McNew/Getty Images

Folk artist Leonard Knight has died.

Knight spent three decades painting colorful religious messages on a mound of adobe in the Southern California desert he called Salvation Mountain.

The Los Angeles Times reports Knight died Monday at a convalescent hospital in eastern San Diego County where he had lived for two years. He was 82 and had suffered from diabetes.

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Arriving in California in the early 1980s, the Vermont native began work on his life's project atop a terraced hill in the Imperial Valley near the Salton Sea. Salvation Mountain is now about three stories tall and 100 feet long, emblazoned with "god is love" and topped with a cross.

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The land is owned by the state. Knight's devoted followers are hoping to preserve the art installation as a historic site.