So somewhere in between Santa Fe and Oklahoma I was awakened from a nap and told we were at the Cadillac Ranch. Much to my surprise I looked out the window to see 10 brightly colored Cadillacs sticking up out of the middle of an old field. We all gasped in amazement and hurriedly trotted towards this intriguing design.
The dogs that joined us in the car were even more excited perhaps, as they ran forward in anticipation.
Up close each car was its own work of art. I examined each one, looking at all the different parts of the car and the fabulous colors that made the object "cool." I soon discovered the bright colors were actually graffiti from different visitors. I looked around and saw several tourists writing their own names on the cars and taking pictures with them. A bit later, after the other tourists had left, I noticed a marker they had left behind. I used it to proudly add my own piece of labeling to the exhibit. Each of my friends laughed in glee and did the same.
Amongst our group of friends was one guy in particular who works on cars for a living. While I was fascinated with the human connection and bright colors, he stood back and began telling us of each specific car. He told about the year make and model and why they changed it and in what way. The shape of the fins, the tires, the windows, even the seat belt specifics he spouted off. We each took turns asking the Cadillac guru our own questions, eager for more knowledge of this oddity.
Before we left everyone had to take multiple pictures with multiple types of camera taking technology to ensure we never forgot this mind-opening moment.
Having just taken over the Chamber of Commerce position back home, my mind was reeling with ideas and questions. I laughed as I pondered asking my Dad to turn one of his fields into a tourist attraction of his hold farm equipment and vehicles. He would undoubtedly look at me as if I had asked him to put his liver on display.
Our friends discussed later that many people do not enjoy art, or simply do not know how to appreciate and enjoy it. Specifically in our part of the nation, people are not acclimated to such delicacy. Our people are raised to work hard and live off of what you have, not asking outside of their means, so the idea of art comes to them as absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps it started with the territory of Oklahoma. It was stolen from Indians and returned to them, then opened up for those in need. Life on the prairie has always been an excruciating task. Working hard to create food and even harder to get paid doing it is the name of the game. By the end of the night, all anyone wants to do is sleep before having to do it all again.
Although a lot has changed since the prairie days of Oklahoma, maybe the mindset hasn't. Our people are here because their ancestors were here, and our ancestors did not teach us to appreciate delicacies. I think that is why Oklahoma is void of lots of unique culture, and the culture we do possess is not appreciated because of just that--frivolously. Yet these frivolous expenditures are what keep us sane--or insane, rather, and give us the most joy and open-mindedness.
Currently I struggle with people of this mindset. They love the idea of kooky and change-oriented, but when it comes to execution fear of ambiguity sits in. That's why they say artists must be comfortable with the unknown, for that is where creativity lays.
The whole idea of the Cadillac Ranch is obsurd. And yet it has kept tourists coming for over 30 years and still remains a popular attraction. The oddity is inspirational and original, something I can't say for many other things on this planet. The great force behind this creation? A man named Stanley Marsh 3, who wikipedia deems "an American artist, philanthropist, and prankster from Amarillo, Texas."
What a fun title. While many adored the man, others criticised him for his pointless art projects. But hey, if you step out of the boat, your world is sure to get rocked. Mr. Marsh left the bondage of this world yesterday for natural causes. His wife of over 40 years survived him, along with lots of children and grandchildren. Though I never knew him personally, I would like to genuinely salute this man.
I salute him for stepping out of the box, for breaking boundaries, and doing the unexpected. I salute him for being quirky and weird and passionate and totally and completely himself. I aim to be there myself one day, but until then I will learn from others. To find a passionate being is rare, and through a website and a facebook post, I have found one more, so here's to you, Stanley Marsh 3.
May we live in equal pursuit of purpose and passion.