Christ of the Ozarks

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09-02-06--ChristofOzarks.jpg

Christ of the Ozarks statue is a monumental sculpture of Jesus located near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, atop Magnetic Mountain. It was erected in 1966 as a "Sacred Project" by Gerald L. K. Smith and stands 65.5 feet (20 meters) high.

Background[edit]

During the Great Depression, Smith served as an organizer for Huey P. Long's Share Our Wealth movement and led it briefly following Long's assassination in 1935. After many years of highly controversial, religiously charged activism, Gerald L. K. Smith retired to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where he bought and renovated an old mansion. On other parts of the estate property, he planned a religious theme park, which he called "Sacred Projects". He commissioned the centerpiece, a gigantic statue of Jesus, completed in 1966. It is called "Christ of the Ozarks".[1]

He also completed a 4,100-seat amphitheater. This is the site of seasonal annual outdoor performances of "The Great Passion Play", styled after that of Oberammergau, Germany. It is performed four or five nights a week from the first week of May through the end of October.[2]

Design[edit]

The statue, which is more than 67 feet (20 meters) tall, was primarily the work of Emmet Sullivan, who also worked on nearby Dinosaur World. He had assisted in the work at Mount Rushmore. The statue is modernistic and minimalistic; there is little facial detail or expression, and the lines and forms are generally simplified. The arms are outstretched straight, suggesting the Crucifixion; however the cross is not overtly depicted.

Criticism[edit]

An art critic said it was similar to "a milk carton with a tennis ball stuffed on its top",[1] and locals and Arkansans sometimes refer to it as "Our Milk Carton With Arms".

In popular culture[edit]

The Christ of the Ozarks is featured briefly in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown and in the 1988 movie Pass the Ammo.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith (1898–1976)", The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, 2009, accessed 10 May 2011
  2. ^ "The Great Passion Play". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°24′24.87″N 93°43′23.41″W / 36.4069083°N 93.7231694°W / 36.4069083; -93.7231694