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Great Art Off the Beaten Path

There is some great art that you need to see even if it means you have to travel far to see it.

10 Extraordinary Artworks You Need to Travel to the Edge of the World to See

New York. London. Paris. Public art tends to cluster in major cities around the world, taking center stage in downtown districts and in major institutions. But a lot of truly incredible art exists on the fringes, and some of it is even made by major artists. For a truly unique experience, you’ve got look off the beaten path, away from museums and towards the oceanfronts, mountains, and remote highways of the world. You never know what could astound you.

From the northern tip of Norway to the wilderness of the Namib Desert, we rounded up 10 major works of public art that are hiding in plain sight in some of the most remote corners of the world.

My Favorite - and I have seen it in person - Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight

Salvation Mountain (1984–2011)

Leonard Knight, <i>Salvation Mountain</i> (1984–2011). Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images.

Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain (1984–2011). Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images.

WHAT: Leonard Knight (1931–2014) never called himself an artist, but he created an epic piece of multicolored land/folk art in the southern Californian desert. Called Salvation Mountain, it overlooks the Salton Sea, surrounded by vehicles he customized in the same visionary style. Every surface preaches Knight’s gospel of love and faith in Jesus in primary colors. When the first “mountain” he made collapsed, Knight decided it was God’s will, and he started all over again—only on a bigger scale. He did, however, abandon the idea of having a hot air balloon float above the site, as it proved impractical in the harsh desert climate.  


WHERE: Salvation Mountain is next to Slab City, and a short drive from Bombay Beach, which boasts its own biennial and thriving art community. All are around a three-hour drive southwest from Los Angeles, and within easy reach of the Coachella Valley.

FUN FACT: The first Salvation Mountain, which Knight began in 1984, was made with unstable building methods and collapsed. So Knight changed locations and started again.




Ra Paulette's Hand-Carved Caves

As showcased in Atlas Obscura, these amazing cave carvings are unusual and creative. But they are also closed to the public...

One man has carved a number of natural New Mexico caves into psychedelic sandstone temples. 

For over 25 years, New Mexico artist Ra Paulette has been creating natural crevasses in the New Mexico wilderness and painstakingly chiseling, digging, and carving intricate underground wonderlands.

In 14 different caves in the desert just north of Santa Fe, Paulette has created an underground fantasy world using nothing but the power of his own hands. Sometimes using preexisting crevasses and sometimes simply tunneling into the soft sandstone cliffs, the artist creates singular subterranean spaces to which he ascribes a sort of spiritual power.

No two of Paulette’s caves are alike, some featuring undersized doors or skylights that let the sun in, while others include benches carved right into the wall or deep niches for flickering candles. The walls of the caves are also decorated with carved designs ranging from flowers to abstract suns to purely emotive design flourishes; all look as though they formed naturally because they are etched into the cave walls themselves.

Paulette considers his creations more of a hobby or public service than a money-making venture and generally just leaves the caves to be discovered by others when he is finished. He hopes that those that come after him can discover some peace or epiphany in his chambers. Paulette finds his joy in creating things, not necessarily the things’ finished states.

Know Before You Go

Most of the caves now sit on private property, and because of past issues with trespassers, the owners have closed the caves to the public.

Sand Sculptor Transforms Construction Site into Anti-Gentrification Cat Art

Cat sandThis from Hyperallergic -- On Saturday afternoon, sand sculptor Zara Gaze came upon a pile of sand at a construction site in her rapidly gentrifying south London neighborhood of Brockley. Where most saw yet another overpriced high-rise in progress, Gaze saw a blank canvas. Later that night, she returned to the site with a spade and transformed the 40-ton sand pile into a piece of anti-gentrification protest art: A sculpture of a fat cat chewing on a piece of broccoli (get it? Brockley?).

At 3:30am, a security guard showed up at the site and questioned Gaze about her renegade creation. She said she’d merely rearranged the sand that was already there. Before they destroyed her masterpiece, they let her photograph it.

“The place used to be an old garage and somebody had daubed graffiti — ‘enjoy your quinoa,’” Gaze told the Guardian of the construction site. “I think it’s going to become flats that cost a ridiculous amount of money. I was on my way to a friend’s house and thought it too good an opportunity to miss.”

Sand sculpture is usually the purview of beachgoers, not urban protesters, but Gaze, who runs the sand art initiative Sandalism, aims to politicize the medium. She often works in the dark of night, sneak-attacking construction sites and turning them into everything from giant sand brains to pumpkin patches, but making overt protest art is new for her. “I feel like getting more political. People are pretty miserable at the moment, they are really pissed off at the government, so this is a call to other artists. People are not shouting enough,” said Gaze. “It’s very difficult to live in London and many people I know are making noises about moving out of London.”


Flintstones House

Flintstones HouseLocated in Nas montanhas de Fafe in Portugal, it certainly has a prehistoric feel, especially to all of us who grew up watching the Flintstones cartoon. It could come right out of Wilma and Fred's world with the boulders on either side. The house is rather squished at the front with just room for a door and a tiny window above it.

Discoverd this on Environmental Graffiti.

The First Graffitists? The Romans

Roman graffiti We all may think that street art and graffiti are modern phenomena but graffiti has a long and storied history - maybe even from cave paintings. Some of the more interesting graffit still exists on the walls in Pompeii. To better understand the ancient Roman world, one archaeologist looks at the graffiti, love notes and poetry alike, left behind by Pompeians

Want to learn how to do it yourself? Try reading Ancient Graffiti in Context (Routledge Studies in Ancient History) and also The common people of Pompeii;: A study of the graffiti, (Johns Hopkins university studies in archaeology)