March 9, 2013 – 9ish in the morning
It was very cold about 52 degrees with 61 wind gusts when I arrived to the site. It was a different location. I remembered the other location when I visited Amarillo in summer 1997. I didn’t have a chance to get a close up then. I finally did it this time today.
The original Cadillac Ranch was located in a wheat field, close to Home Depot, 2 miles away from the now installed attraction on Exit 60, I-40. I realized that the original location was quietly moved to the cow pasture at the same year I visited Amarillo the last time. It must have been happening in the Fall. The reason they moved the ranch was to place farther from the limits of the growing city.
From Wikipedia: Both sites belonged to the local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, the patron of the project. Marsh was well known in the city for his longtime patronage of artistic endeavors including the “Cadillac Ranch”, Floating Mesa, “Amarillo Ramp” a work of well known land artist Robert Smithson, and a series of fake traffic signs throughout the city known collectively as the “Dynamite Museum”. As the story went, Stanley Marsh 3, quickly disregarding the “III” as too pretentious and using “3” instead, would buy one Cadillac after another and when it was time to buy a new one, he would have the old one buried nose first on his land. However, the truth is, the Cadillac Ranch was a planned artistic endeavor. As of 2013, Stanley Marsh 3 does not own the Cadillac Ranch since his alleging sexual abuse of underage teenage boys.
Cadillac Ranch is visible from the highway, and though it is located on private land, visiting it (by driving along a frontage road and entering the pasture by walking through an unlocked gate) is tacitly encouraged. In addition, writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is also encouraged, and the vehicles, which have long since lost their original colors, are wildly decorated. The cars are periodically repainted various colors. In 2012 they were painted rainbow colors to commemorate gay pride day. The new paint jobs and even the plaque commemorating the project lasted less than 24 hours without fresh graffiti.
Most of the cars were purchased from junk yards, averaged about $200, then the cars were buried nose-down. The project was completed in 1974, and in no time at all, visitors began to come from all over the world, leaving their mark on the ever-thickening graffiti covered cars. Over time, vandals and souvenir hounds smashed the windows, made off with all the chrome, radios, speakers and even some of the doors. The wheels have since been welded to the axles to prevent more theft. You are encouraged to take the paint spray can, leaving your name or an inspiring message which will no doubt be erased by another message soon. There’s a Home Depot about three miles away, at exit 64 where you can buy a can of spray paint for $3 to $6.
I came to take some pictures of the Cadillac Ranch – trying to hold my camera still, some successes and some failures for some high density range work. The winds were really plummeting us, in fact, I was almost blown away twice, losing my balance. I gave up. I got some facebook messages from my friends encouraging me to paint spray my photography logo one of these Cadillacs. So I went to get two different colors, purple and blue paint spray cans for $6.50 total at the Home Depot. The cashier smiled from ear to ear when I checked out, asking if I was going to the Cadillac Ranch. I grinned back, nodded yes, then she asked me where I was from, I said Austin, and she said awesome, what are you going to spray with? I pulled out my business card and said I am going to spray the logo. She asked you photographer? I said yeah. She said damn, she wanted to find a photographer to take some baby portraits, I looked at her up and down, she looked like a teenager, but I said nothing. It might be her with a baby, but again, it would be probably for her friend or her sister or her brother, whoever the person was. I didn’t ask. I wanted to leave, all worked up to do it on the Cadillac.
I arrived, about to be ready to spray paint. All of the sudden, the guy were running around, waving something in his eyes. His wife or girlfriend followed him around, talking and yelling. I could tell that because people were watching them as well as I did. The older gentleman shook his head, mumbling something that I thought I caught him saying “this is stupid, man!” The guy stumbled into the ground, rubbing his eyes. His woman didn’t know what to do, but soothed him. The woman walked towards the guy, offering the water bottle. The guy quickly grabbed it, pouring water on his eyes. I thought shit I didn’t want to do that after all from seeing the guy going through the pain. I decided to videotape the ranch instead. After 5-10 minutes, the guy laughed his head off. I think he embarrassed himself whatever happened to him earlier. His girl looked confused, whether to get mad or laugh with him.
Thousands and thousands of used paint spray cans were scattered all over on the other side but the ranch itself was clean and neat. My god, these damn friggin’ winds, crazy, it hurt my ears and hands – freezing 50 degrees.
Before I left, I did the timelapse selfie again just like the VW Slug Bug Ranch.
Subtitles for hearing friends, family and road trippin’ fans. 🙂
I was in awe how cluttered it is on the ground after using spray paint. No trash cans nearby around the ranch except for one in the front where we parked.
Following the update news: on April 10, 2013, Marsh was indicted by a Texas grand jury in Potter County for the alleged sexual assault of two teenagers between 2010 and 2011. He is charged with four counts of sexual assault of a child, eight counts of sexual performance by a child, and two counts of indecency with a child.
Okay, off to check the Huge Pair of Legs and the Tractor Ranch…….