If you’ve heard of Slab City, you’d know that this established colony of people in the desert land of Southern California has all kinds of unusual things. Located only a mile away from Salvation Mountain into Slab City is an outdoor art exhibition called East Jesus. It was started by a man named Charles Russell by taking all the trash that people dumped in this desert land and turned them into extraordinary art works. About 80% of the arts that you’ll see here were created by him; however, as East Jesus gains popularity, artists and creative people from around the country come here to add their own works to the collection. The place is quite literally open for anyone from anywhere with the passion to create art to come over and create (or destroy) something. If you’ve got trash, bring them over and make something out of it.
Location GPS Coordinate: 33.264702,-115.463788
I was at Salvation Mountain and got to talk to a man who was volunteering that day. He told abou East Jesus and there was no reason why I wouldn’t stop here especially it is only a mile away. I got there and was greeted by a man who was taking care of the place at the time. He walked, introduced himself, and gave us a tour of the place. He was really friendly and you could tell that he was so eager to show us around the place.
This place was definitely fascinating, and so worth a visit. Even if you don’t have anytime, this definitely must be a stop after Salvation Mountain. Some of my friends who came with me even liked this place more than Salvation Mountain. I wouldn’t compare the two because I think that they are equally spectacular.
I wandered around after the man showed us around the place and gave a tour of his house. They have so many different kinds of art works from used car covered in paint, burnt old cars that looked like something that jumped out of a Terminator movie, robots, time machine, and so many others. My favorite was probably the beer bottle wall. If you come during sunset, the light will shine through the bottles and illuminate the bottles.
This place made me feel so liberated. It’s really awesome to see that artists in this area found a place where they could truly express their creativity. East Jesus and Slab City in general really shows me how untraditional one’s life can be. While many people, including myself, strive to be “successful” in the society with a lot of money, but we often forget that it does not guarantee happiness. I came here and see that so many people live with so little but they were perfectly happy with their lives. Yes, this area is extremely poor and a lot of people who live in Niland and Slab City may not come here by choice and they may rather be somewhere else with running water and electricity, but many people who live here are already extremely independent and fully content with their lives.
To get here, from Salvation Mountain, turn right on to Beal road (the road that you were on before entering Salvation Mountain) and continue until you hit a dead end and turn left, and then a few hundred feet, turn left again at a sign that says “East Jesus”. Keep driving into the ground and you will see a garden that is filled with different art work. Basically, you will know it when you see it.
Here’s a beautiful montage of all the art projects at East Jesus I found on YouTube!