Small Sculpture in Texas

America Knows How
to Treat Its Monuments

Photographs Copyright 1980 by JR Compton.
All Rights Reserved.

The VW stuck in the ground along the driveway was a gift of friends. The classic American Flash Cadillacs which it puningly mocks have been repeatedly attacked by a hostile though participatory audience. The Ant Farm's The Great American Dream is in the big middle of a field along Highway 66. The VW is clean and cozy on the drive up to Stanley Marsh's ranch from the highway. At the gate a simple sign atop a post announces "Toad Hall." Another smashed car is up-ended on a pallet behind a garage.

Collector Stanley Marsh's predilection for fantasy adventures shows in the philosophical menagerie of art objects which sags against a fence. Closer in, two Llamas gambol for the cameras of visiting tourists. In a small pen staked up in the shadows against the house is Hot Dog, a tiny fidgety Chinese Hairless with barely discernible markings. Hot Dog is the less-than-famous Tattooed Dog. "Minnesota," the somewhat more famous Tattooed Pig that had been NTSU student Andy Fechan's thesis, was gone.

The Ant Farm's    The Great American Dream   (detail)

Stanley Marsh may be, as some believe, a fool. But he is a witty, wily and sagacious perpetrator of outrageous art adventures. At last summer's Amarillo Competition held at The Amarillo Art Center, Marsh explained the tremendous scale of The Stake, English artist Andrew Leicester's already-begun project to art historian John Canaday. Neither high flying aircraft nor even satellites will be able to see the specially planted basic stake-like shape growing on thousands of west Texas acres. Marsh said. From the space shuttle, however, the vegetable variations will begin to become visible. And from outer space...

The Ant Farm's    The Great American Dream   (detail)

Just after his Amarillo Ramp was completed, conceptual artist Robert Smithson flew over the site to make an aerial inspection of his finished work. Unfortunately and unaccountably the aircraft's engine stalled, and both Smithson and the pilot were killed when the craft crashed into the hilltop where several persons are standing in the picture below. The dam, which had held back enough water to almost surround the ramp, broke after heavy rains a couple years ago, and the ramp has been high and dry ever since. Although there are no plans to replace the dam, the ramp still provides an extraordinary feeling of almost rapturous Ascension to those who scale the monument.

 photograph copyright 1980 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

The Giant Phantom Soft Pool Table

The Giant Phantom Soft Pool Table has seen many sites. You'd need a detailed dirt road map and permission from friendly ranch-hands to find the 70' x 180' pool table which, according to our guide, "might end up on the side of the LBJ Library next."

Marsh explains the bashing, smashing and graffiting public response to his and the Ant Farm's memorial to Harley Earl, designer of the famed Cadillac fins, quite simply: "Americans know how to treat their monuments."

Texas Arts Revue #2
(whole number 4)
July 1990


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