The Cadillac Ranch Near Amarillo, Texas: Sculpture or Eyesore?
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska, Another Questionable Art Work
Across the country locals question the motive behind some strange pieces of art, Amarillo Texas, Alliance Nebraska, Berwyn
Illinois, all places stricken with a similar plight, in the name of car art, junk cars have been stacked, stabbed, buried,
and displayed. You decide, is it art, or is it eyesore.
In 1974 Millionaire rancher Stanley Marsh added to the long list of interesting things to see along Route 66. Just a few
miles west of Amarillo he planted a bunch of old Cadillacs nose down in the Texas dust. Ten rusting hulks1, resting half
buried and pointing west, all lined up in a row. A few hundred yards off interstate 40, the replacement for Route 66,
these wrecks are covered with many layers of multi-colored graffiti. Thirty years of kids, and adults both, climbing all
over, leaving their mark for posterity2.
Cermak Plaza Shopping Center in Berwyn, Illinois has gone vertical with a similar theme. in 1989 L.A. artist Dustin Shuler
created his version of auto art. In the middle of the parking lot is erected a 40' spike referred to as the Spindle.
Impaled3 on this tall apparatus shaped like a nail are Eight Cars. With a VW Bug at the top, they increase in size going
down to a full sized four door sedan on the bottom.
One of Mr. Shuler's other car related pieces is a "Pinto Pelt". The body of a Ford Pinto, flattened to mere inches and
hung on the wall outside a Walgreen's Drug Store. In an effort to represent the hide4 of a horse, or similar large animal,
the Ford Pinto is as good as any to crush. Thankfully he kept his hands off the Mustang.
With a number of replicas of Stonehenge, The Mystical English Ruins, established around the country, Alliance Nebraska
has put their own spin on the monument. They have created their automotive version called Carhenge. Using 38 different
vehicles, farmer Jim Reinders created his version of the circular structure. By half burying cars vertically in a circle,
with others attached across the tops a semi-accurate duplicate of Stonehenge was built as a memorial to his Dad. The cars
are all painted a flat gray to symbolize the color of stone.
At first Alliance didn't appreciate his attempt at the arts, and made efforts to hide or remove it. As time passed it's
gained acceptance, and a Car-Art park has been established to expand on the theme. With such pieces as The Fourd Seasons,
(a tribute to wheat) and The Carnastoga Wagon5 (pictures below).
Some artists prefer to have their Car Art in a mobile fashion. Known rather as Art Cars these rolling expressions of
someone's idea of art can be seen driving down the road. In the 60's it was Psychedelic6 paint jobs, today it can be
way over the top. Some attach all sorts of trinkets7 and baubles8 to their cars, others follow a particular theme. One
artist grew grass all over his car, making it living art. The Art Car community have rallies, and events to display
their drivable creations.
Some people recycle their old cars, off to the scrap yard to be reborn as new shiny machines, right out of the factory.
Others save them as trophies, lining them up behind the barn or along the back property line. Then there are the artists,
who knows what they will come up with next, all in the name of art.
Source: The Cadillac Ranch Near Amarillo, Texas: Sculpture or Eyesore? of October 17, 2007
1. hulk - Wrack
2. posterity - Nachwelt
3. to impale - aufspießen
4. hide - Fell, Tierhaut
5. Carnastoga Wagon - Canestoga wagon = a heavy, broad-wheeled covered freight carrier used by settlers going west. Was extensively used during the late 1700s and 1800s.
6. psychedelic - psychedelisch (bezeichnet einen manchmal euphorischen Trance-, Rausch- oder Meditations-Zustand oder -Eindruck des Bewusstseins bzw. der Sinne, der sich durch eine Vermischung von Sinneseindrücken bzw. Sinneserlebnissen auszeichnet und oft auch als "bewusstseinserweiternd" beschrieben wird.)
7. trinket - Schmuckstück
8. bauble - Spielerei
1. What symbolic meanings and connotations do 'Cadillac Ranch' and 'Carhenge' have?
2. Cars impaled on a spike and the body of a car on a wall - what do you think artist Dustin Shuler's message is?
3. What do all the car monuments suggest as to Americans' attitude towards cars?
4. Here are some definitions of what 'art' is:
a. Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the sense or emotions.
It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music and
b. Generally, art is made with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions.
c. The nature of art has been described by Richard Wollheim as "one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human
culture". It has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas.
d. Art is the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be
shared with others.
e. Creative Art or Fine Art means that a skill is being used to express the artist's creativity, or to engage the
audience's aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the finer things. Often, if the
skill is being used in a common or practical way, people will consider it a craft instead of art. If the skill is
being used in a commercial or industrial way, it will be considered Commercial art instead of fine art.
Bearing above definitions in mind, would you call the car monuments pieces of art?
5. "The art of ancient civilizations is very much connected with religion of these civilizations. The majority of
masterpieces created in this period are dedicated to gods or they are the sculptures and portraits of gods."
What art has 'modern civilitations' created?
|Cadillac Ranch, near Amarillo, Texas (close)
|Cadillac Ranch, near Amarillo, Texas (far)
|"The Spindle", Cars on a Spike, Berwyn, Illinois
|"Carhenge" in Alliance, Nebraska
|"Yellow Pinto Belt", at Cermak Plaza (Shopping Center) in Berwyn, IL
|"The Fourd Seasons" - representing the 4 stages of wheat grown in the area. Green for Spring, Yellow for mature, pink for after harvest late summer and white for winter. Alliance, Nebraska
| "The Carnastoga Wagon". This area saw a great many wagons in the early settling phase of the county. Alliance, Nebraska.
1. What do all above pieces of car art have in common?
2. Would you call them art or consider them 'eyesores'?