Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my friends and family here on OS! (Yes, I consider many here to be part of my extended family.) A visual gift for you, one of my own favorite set of images from the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas. Please enjoy the feast. It is, in fact, a concurrent metaphor for the OS experience: People flung far and wide have come together, mostly unknown in many ways to each other, to create a beautiful thing that has some elements of random funk or chaos but mostly results in exquisite beauty.
all images copyright © 2007 by barry b. doyle • all rights reserved
Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of early Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The piece is a statement about the paradoxical simultaneous American fascinations with both a "sense of place" — and roadside attractions, such as The Ranch itself — and the mobility and freedom of the automobile.
Cadillac Ranch is currently located at 35°11′14″N 101°59′13.4″W. It was originally located in a wheat field, but in 1997 the installation was quietly moved by a local contractor two miles (three kilometers) to the west, to a cow pasture along Interstate 40, in order to place it further from the limits of the growing city. One of the laborers on the relocation project was cult figure and Amarillo native Brian Deneke; one of many local youths who worked for Stanley Marsh 3 on various art projects at the time. Both sites belong to the local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, the patron of the project. Marsh is well known in the city for long time 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".
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 (once white for the filming of a television commercial, another time pink in honor of Stanley's wife Wendy's birthday , and yet another time all 10 cars were painted flat black to mark the passing of Ant Farm artist Doug Michel's) or simply to provide a fresh canvas for future visitors. The cars were briefly "restored" to their original colors by the motel chain Hampton Inn in a public relation sponsored series of Route 66 landmark restoration projects. The new paint jobs and even the plaque commemorating the project lasted less than 24 hours without fresh graffiti.
Cadillac Ranch has appeared in American popular culture media. A tribute to the Cadillac Ranch was featured in the Walt Disney and Pixar film Cars. The fictional town of Radiator Springs sits at the edge of an area referenced on a map as the "Cadillac Range", and throughout the movie, rock formations shaped like the upended cars can be seen as a horizon backdrop. Much of the film's plot deals with the dying towns along Route 66. Cadillac Ranch was also featured in a Bruce Springsteen song on his 1980 album The River. Cadillac Ranch is also the inspiration for a song performed by Christian Rock band Family Force 5 called "Cadillac Phunque". It can also be seen in "King of the hill" There is also a song called "Cadillac Ranch" by the late John Stewart, on his album "Rough Sketches", which is about Route 66.