Cadillac Ranch: A Graffiti Playground

cadillac ranch

One of the best resources to modern day travel is the ability to search the internet for user reviews of cities, attractions, dining options, or lodgings. It’s usually through other travelers that I find the fun, funky, off-the-beaten-path experiences.  While traveling along Route 66 from New Mexico to Texas, we got to enjoy one of these moments, thanks to the recommendations of others.

Driving east down the 40 highway, just before arriving in Amarillo, Texas is Cadillac Ranch. As you drive by you’ll see 10 half-buried vintage Cadillac cars sticking out of the ground in the middle of a cow pasture. They are intended to be a public art sculpture created back in 1974 by three men who were part of an art group called Ant Farm.

Although the Cadillacs sit on private land owned by Stanley Marsh, an avid supporter of the Arts, he invites visitors to come in and view the cars up close. There’s an entrance gate to the cars right off the freeway. Also, it’s encouraged to paint and graffiti the cars when you come, which really excited my kids. I mean really, an opportunity to legally graffiti something, what teenager wouldn’t be thrilled?

We bought some spray paint in anticipation of our arrival, and then headed off towards Cadillac Ranch. We arrived at the ranch early in the morning, and there was already a couple leaving, and 2 other parties arriving with us. It turns out that some Australians were traveling cross-country in a mini-van and had heard of this place as well, thanks to sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

We crossed the short, snow-covered jaunt to reach the cars so that we could inspect the artwork on them. Some were covered in peoples’ initials and names. Some had shapes and designs. One had a heart with “bless our troops” written inside.  Our new Australian friends got to work leaving their mark on one of the cars, and my kids happily followed suit.

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to re-create our logo on the roof of one of the cars. Avery, our resident artist, went to work creating a white canvas of spray paint, then layered it with our orange logo box. Dino and Hannah wrote the text, and Hayden helped with the globe. We put our names around the edges, then stood back to survey our work. After some fidgeting and fussing over final details, we were happy with our artwork. 

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Avery and Hannah moved on to other cars to graffiti their own images, while Hayden, in typical fashion, tried to climb up on the cars. Dino and I were taking bets on how long our artwork would remain before someone came along and painted over it. No worries though, as we have it forever immortalized in pictures.

When the spray paint ran out, we headed back to the RV to change our mud- covered shoes and head off to our next destination. As the Cadillacs slowly disappeared from my rear view mirror, I uttered a silent “thank you” to the ranch owner for his generosity in supporting artists’ creations, and for encouraging the artist within each of us.

All images via Shannon Watt

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Cadillac Ranch: A Graffiti Playground

Shannon is a mother of 3 teens, who hit 40 and decided that instead of a "mid-life crisis", she wanted an adventure of a lifetime. She convinced her wonderfully open-minded husband to pack up their house, sell most of their possessions, and travel the USA in an RV for a year or two. Besides homeschooling her kids, running their online program, Watts in the World, Shannon loves to explore new places. Nothing is more exciting than waking up in a new city everyday, and discovering what's great abou ... More

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