Antone Martin’s Epic Sculptures

Ol' Smilodon Fatalis here would've been a familiar site here in Yucca Valley as recently as 10,000 years ago. The folks living here at the time probably weren't all that happy about having 450 lb killing machines around, which might be a contributing reason to why there are none left today. Smilodon, and this guy was probably the subspecies Smilodon Californicus, ruled So Cal from about 1.6 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, enjoying a nice long run that humans would be lucky to emulate. Smilodon is also the California State fossil, possibly due to their unfortunate instinct of jumping on mammoths that were sinking in the La Brea Tar Pits. Often linked to the tiger family, saber tooths were actually of the Pantherinae persuasion which links them to lions, leopards, and jaguars as well as tigers. (I personally like to think of them as being spotty like a jag, but it's anybody's guess) This saber tooth, in Yucca Valley's Triangle Park is depicted a bit smaller than standard life size, but still looks like she could do some damage. Her creator, Antone Martin (1887-1961), was a true desert eccentric with a mission and that mission was world peace.

 So to this end, he created what was known in his lifetime as "Antone Martin Memorial Park" and is now called "The Desert Christ Memorial Park." It's up the hill on Mohawk Trail with a great view of the whole valley. As you may have guessed from the name, Christians will get more out of the Desert Christ experience than anyone else, but that doesn't mean that non-Christians won't get something from the visit. The park is comprised of about 50 figures constructed over a 10-year period arranged in tableaux that depict Christ's ministry to regular, common people of both genders and all ages. Basically one man with a message of peace and compassion. No miracles, no disturbing manger scene, no gruesome crucifixion. The figures have a real heroic Greek look to them (think Hercules) and the "exile in the wilderness" part has a reclining Buddha feel. The story of Antone Martin is really quite compelling – self-educated, he had a nuimber of jobs before becoming a design engineer for Douglas Aircraft. The park is coming back from years of abuse and neglect – the 1992 Landers quake busted off quite a few noses and hands, and vandalism remains a problem. Contributions of labor and funds are particularily welcome. 

















Antone Martin Map,-116.443148&spn=0.015418,0.025492&z=15&msid=107348785646573726339.000454808d6dfc74d26ab

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~ by ravenjake on August 15, 2008.

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