Category Archives: Public art

I’m worried about his followers

Out & About

Yesterday I went to Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain location

This was my sixth or seventh trip to Salvation Mountain since 1993, but I was always alone, so I never exited the car and walked around.

I did not feel safe.

Yesterday I was with a group of seventeen photographers…. There’s power in numbers.

I felt safe.

Not completely safe.

But safe enough to get out of my car and take pictures.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Is it odd that I don’t feel safe in the midst of Bible Thumpers, especially those spouting “God Is Love?” On the surface, yes, I think it is odd. The underlying reality, I believe—

—and as my wise old grandmother told me,
“You can’t argue with someone’s beliefs
because their beliefs are not always based in reality.”—

—is that these people will do just about anything to protect their beliefs, and they often are not sane, sober, or interested in other beliefs, not to mention opinions, facts, science, truth….

Armed & bitter libertarian drunkards live here

Salvation Mountain is a “hillside visionary environment” created by Leonard Knight (1931–2014) in the California Desert area of Imperial County. Knight started it in 1984 when he was 53. Although there are many Bible verses painted on Salvation Mountain, its main philosophy is the Sinner’s Prayer. Knight’s version of the Sinner’s Prayer seemed to be the following because it was everywhere!

Jesus, I’m a sinner.
Please come upon my body
and into my heart.

Sinner's Prayer

What little research I could tolerate doing this morning on the Sinner’s Prayer indicates that it’s just another of those beliefs. In this case, even the Bible does not contain any reference to the Sinner’s Prayer. It’s all made up gobbledygook even beyond the fairy tales in the Bible.

Salvation Mountain is the “showpiece” of Slab City. Other parts of Slab City include the “neighborhoods” of East Jesus and West Satan. I’m pretty sure I would  be living in West Satan.

We didn’t make it to West Satan yesterday. Seems the West Satan folks and the East Jesus folks weren’t getting along…. Where’s God’s love?

All residents of Slab City are “squatters” and seem to be paranoid about government, technology, and science. However, if you want to donate to their paranoia, they have an email address and they do take PayPal. They also have a Facebook page. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

East Jesus PayPal

I do find it interesting that for a “city” propounding God’s love, there was a lot of non-love exhibited throughout Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and East Jesus.

Slow the fuck down

I'll have them all shot

More irony (my belief)
No stupid people

No fucking parking

In 2000, The Folk Art Society of America declared Salvation Mountain

a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection.

In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described Salvation Mountain

as a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives.

In December 2011, the 80-year-old Knight, suffering from dementia,
was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon, California (where I live!).
He died there February 10, 2014.

In 2012, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support and maintain Salvation Mountain.

I found the question mark in this little section of Salvation Mountain to be quite interesting:

Bible Jesus Loves ? You

I’m not worried about whether or not Bible Jesus loves me. I’m worried about the followers of Bible Jesus….

Agave utiliensii

Picture of the Moment—The very rare Agave utiliensii

Picture of the Moment

The city of San Diego, as well as its suburbs, love to paint their streetside utility boxes.

I’m not complaining.

I love ’em, and I’m always on the lookout for the coolest of the cool ones.

Utility boxes are usually at street corners or in heavily trafficked areas where there is no parking so they often are difficult to get a picture of.

I have been known, however, to go around the block several times looking for parking so I can get out and take a picture.

Here’s one of my favorites from this past weekend:

Agave utiliensii

I believe it’s the very rare Agave utiliensii, not normally seen in cultivation.

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Out & About San Diego—The Lifeguard, Ocean Beach

Out & About San Diego

It’s amazing how many times I can go someplace and still find something new.

Recently I was in Ocean Beach, a place where I hung out every day for many years, and a place that I still visit on a weekly basis. I found two monuments that I had never seen before. One is called “The Lifeguard.” Looks like this:

The Lifeguard, Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

The Lifeguard, Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

The Lifeguard, Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

There’s a lot of text on that plaque. Here’s what it says:


On Sunday, May 5, 1918, 13 lives were lost here, including
11 soldiers and sailors stationed at Camp Kearny North Island and Point Loma. The rip currents were caused by unusual conditions of tides near the entrance to Mission Bay.
Police Lifeguard Louis Chauvaurd made several unheeded warnings to the soldiers and effected rescues before he fell exhausted. Police Lifeguards Glen Fresca, Frank Gilroy and Frank Merritt all made several rescues. Citizens and soldiers were called upon to make rescues including Henry Hanson who valiantly saved the lives of 5 swimmers before losing his own. Over 60 lives were saved. As a result of this tragedy the

City of San Diego provided additional lifeguard staffing
and equipment leading to the development of the
Lifeguard Services today.

This memorial was placed here in 2013 by the
San Diego Lifesaving Association and the citizens of San Diego
in honor of San Diego Lifeguards
and to memorialize the men who lost their lives.

Ralph Braby • Hugh E. Burr • Emerson Donaldson
Henry P. Hanson • Herman Haube

L. H. Killingsworth • Frank Mitten
Charles Monroe Humphrey • Chalmer L. Pollitt

Marcus Regil • Fred W. Sanborn • Jesus Satoyo • Granville Taylor

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Robert Baxley (1934-2005), a former Ocean Beach lifeguard,
respected waterman, author and judge, provided the vision for the establishment of this bronze.
In 2010 a task force was created led by

Neil Moyer, Jim ‘Mouse’ Robb, Julie Klein, Richard Arnold,
Lt. Greg Buchanan and former Councilmember Byron Wear
to organize the community effort.

In appreciation for major gifts to the
Captain Charles W. Hardy Memorial Fund
[And then it lists all the contributors to the Fund.
I can’t read them, and I could find no online source
that lists them, but I’d like to thank them, too!]

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Picture of the Moment—Row boats

Picture of the Moment

I had never seen purposely painted utility boxes and dumpsters until I came to San Diego. Around here, absolutely. everything. is painted. I do admit that they are much more pleasant to look at than the unpainted thing. Here’s the fence surrounding a couple of dumpsters at a ritzy hotel over on Mission Bay:

Real boats and mural boats

Notice that the painting of the row boats is a painting of the row boats sitting just a few feet away. I really liked that. Which is why I took a picture of it. Uh, der.

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Out & About—The bad guys don’t drive bright red cars

Out & About

Some readers might have seen the news over the past couple of weeks about a giant baby in Mexico peering over the border wall into the United States. It’s over in Tecate at coordinates 32°34’46.8″N 116°35’20.6″W or 32.579667, -116.589056

Location of the giant baby at the border wall in Tecate

Border Wall baby

Yes, we already have a border wall here in San Diego County.

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Some of it, like in the pictures above, is about ten years old. Other sections, like the numbered panels in the picture below, are even older.

Border wall in San Diego County

Border Patrol agents like to park their vehicles in hidden locations on the top of mountain peaks, which, I’m sure, often results in the following conversation:

BP Agent 1: I see movement. 773.
Agent 2: I see it, too.
Agent 3: Copy.
Agent 2: Oh my God.
Agent 1: What is that?
Agent 3: It’s a little baby!
Agent 1: But it’s got YUGE hands!

Border Wall baby

I call it the “Border Wall Baby.” It was created by an anonymous French street artist who goes by JR. It is seventy feet tall and is basically a billboard support by scaffolding on the Mexico side.

Border wall baby

Border Wall baby

Border Wall baby

It will remain until early October, so if you want to see it, you don’t have much time.

JR says that he did not plan the art to coincide with Twitler’s announcement to repeal DACA, a program to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. We have to believe him since Twitler is unpredictable and the scaffolding took six weeks to build.

Border Wall baby

Border Wall baby

The concept came to JR in a dream and is based on an actual baby named Kikito who lives in one of the houses nearby. JR told news reporters, “I wonder, is this kid worrying about what will happen? What does he think? At 1 year old, you don’t see the frontier or which side is better.”

Kikito’s mom weighed in, as well. As JR tells it, “She was so happy, and she told me she hoped the image travels around the world. In her own words, she said it should help people think that they are not criminals; they are not rapists, which is how she feels Mexicans are often being portrayed. He’s just a little kid; he’s 1 year old, that’s why he has no political vision about the wall yet. He’s just looking at anything around him with curiosity.”

I got stopped three times by Border Patrol agents. The first asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was looking for the Border Wall Baby, he gave me explicit directions of how to get there and once I finished, to turn around and come back. To go any father would require a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The second agent asked me what I was doing, and I told him I had just been to take pictures of the Border Wall Baby. He said, “I thought it was something like that because the bad guys don’t drive bright red cars. They try to blend in.” The third one just waved me on by.

My bright red vehicle

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Out & About San Diego—Is “Donald scum not my president” an improvement?

Out & About San Diego

San Diego loves its murals. I do believe San Diego (and its suburbs) has more murals than any other place in the world. Just when I think I have seen and taken a picture of every mural on a specific street, the next time I go down that street, there’s a new mural. How come I never see anyone painting these murals? Some are so big and so complicated that it has to take more than a day, maybe even more than a week in some cases.The Boulevard, San Diego, California

El Cajon Boulevard, a 10-mile east/west historic thoroughfare that has been around forever, has murals on every building I think, so recently I stopped to take pictures of some of the new ones that had magically appeared.

I chose the corner at 30th Street & El Cajon because, at 2947 El Cajon Boulevard is a Thrift Trader. Check out all the murals on their building:

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Murals on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Mural on Thrift Trader building, 30th St @ El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Someone did think they could make a small improvement to the mural third from the bottom by adding “Donald scum not my president” to it. Hmmm. They might have succeeded…………..LOL

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DO NOT PARK HERE! Never. Ever. Ever.

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s no secret that, even though California is a big state, parking is scarce, sometimes making it difficult for me to deliver packages for Amazon Prime Now.

And when one is near a beach, parking is virtually nonexistent.

One of the worst things to do is park where you’re not wanted.

Private Parking

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos



Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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