Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cadillac Ranch Then and Now

We marvel at the miles and miles of flatland as we leave Texas. Last night I got to see the Cadillac Ranch along the historic Rte 66. I have been fascinated by this public art work since I first heard about it sometime in my sophomore year of high school, but I’ve never been to Amarillo other than passing through in a snowstorm on my way to a ski weekend.

Conceived and executed by Stanley Marsh II, the helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where it stands, this funky artistic statement was created by Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective. Back in 1974, they assembled 10 used Cadillacs of a vintage from 1949-1963, a time when some of the campiest designs exhibited garish winged tail fins and buried them halfway leaning at the same angle facing west as the Cheops’ pyramids.

In 1997, encroaching development forced Marsh to move the entire assemblage two miles further West. In my mind the vast flatness of the terrain and the immensity of the field itself, contribute to the statement. Since 1974, visitors have been openly welcomed, and the once sleek lines of the classic cars have nearly become indistinguishable as the sleek Detroit designs succumb to the elements. In fact if it were not for the heavy coats of spray painted graffiti, the cars might have melted into the giant Texas landscape by now. In 2005 the Cadillacs were painted pink in a tribute to breast cancer victims.

We found a few choice shots of the cars, particularly the undersides, where we found both a gargoyle and steerhead skeleton on the same undercarriage.--Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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