Friday, May 21, 2010

The Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, TX

Just west of Amarillo, on the old Route 66, which runs alongside I-40, is the Cadillac Ranch.

When Dan introduced me to it, he told me the story he’d heard – that some Texan, years ago, was so rich that he made a habit of buying a new Caddy for himself every year and then discarding the year-old model by stuffing it into the ground, nose down, on his ranch. It was a good story and one that has been told and retold for years, but it isn’t quite accurate.

It was a rich Texan who created this piece of art. Stanly Marsh 3 (who was born in 1938 and who opts to use "3" instead of "III") is a millionaire who partnered with the Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective, to half-bury these ten Cadillacs in the ground in 1974. The model years range from 1949 to 1963, which encompasses the Cadillac’s big tail fin era. They were all already old cars, destined to be scrapped, and he paid little for any of them. Some actually still ran, others did not.

The line-up of cars started out with their original paint jobs, but have, from the beginning, been magnets for graffiti, which is not only tolerated, but encouraged by Marsh. Over the years the cars have been repainted their original colors once; painted all matte black once; and painted all pink at least one time. But before a day has passed, the cars have always been wildly redecorated by the public.

As the city of Amarillo began to spread toward the Cadillac Ranch, Marsh felt the need to relocate his monument a little farther away. In 1997 he moved it from its wheat field home to a cow pasture, 2 miles west. Marsh instructed the contractor not only to line the cars up exactly as they had been, but also to properly relocate all of the trash that dotted the surrounding field!

Stanley Marsh 3 has created many other unusual public art projects. Some people have criticized his art as being nothing more than an eyesore. But his response is, "Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well." (

We’ve stopped at the Cadillac Ranch, so I could take pictures, but we’ve never brought our own can of Krylon. Maybe next time!

1 comment:

Betty said...

How interesting. I´ve never heard of this and loved reading it. I´m sure it´s a fascinating place to visit.