An art installation feautring 10 Cadillacs planted into the high plains of the Texas panhandle might be gone soon.
Drive a few miles west of Amarillo, Texas, on heavily-traveled Interstate 40 and you'll encounter what is generally considered one of the most well-known roadside attractions in the world: Cadillac Ranch. But go soon, since these Cadillacs might be headed to the junkyard if a Houston lawyer gets his way.
The ten Cadillacs planted nose first into the dusty panhandle soil have been a part of the regional landscape since 1974, but the project's financier, Stanley Marsh 3 (not III, which he claims is too pretentious), has come under some serious sexual abuse charges in Amarillo.
In response, some Amarillo residents have lashed out against both the installation and Marsh for the first time. In the generally quiet panhandle city, Marsh has long enjoyed something approaching celebrity status thanks to his arts booster efforts, including financing Cadillac Ranch. However, there's allegedly a darker side to the eccentric Texan.
Over the last couple of decades, Marsh has fought allegations that he sexually assaulted minors in his office on the 12th floor of Amarillo's Chase Bank building, but the latest charges, which stem from an arrest late last year, seem to be sticking. Still, despite years of allegations and rumors, Amarillo residents have generally looked the other way since Marsh has been so influential to the city. In fact, Marsh's story has shades of another Texan - Bernie Tiede of Carthage, on the other side of the state, whose life was immortalized by Jack Black in the film Bernie.
But there's a backlash brewing in Amarillo that could see Cadillac Ranch being dismantled, at least if Houston lawyer Anthony G. Buzbee gets his way.
The lawyer is representing a group of 10 teenager boys who are accusing Marsh of sexually assaulting them. Buzbee says that he had to turn away other men who wanted to file lawsuits against Marsh, but "we couldn't help them because of the statute of limitations."
In a Texas Monthly interview, Buzbee says that he has set his sights on more than just Marsh.
"When people find out what this man is really like, they'll want to come out and help me bulldoze the place," he told the magazine. "We do not need a monument that honors an alleged child predator."
Cadillac Ranch will probably require more than a bulldozer to remove, although the 10 slanted Cadillacs (which were placed in the ground at the same angle as the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt) have actually been moved previously. In 1997, the installation was moved two miles west of its original location, since Amarillo's growth was beginning to encroach on them.
The 10 Cadillacs date from 1949 to 1963, and while there is no consensus on their significance, what is known is that they were installed in Marsh's land in 1974 by noted art group Ant Farm.