Residents of Amarillo, Texas, are debating whether to dismantle Stanley Marsh 3’s Cadillac Ranch art installation near Route 66 in the wake of sex-abuse allegations against him, reported Texas Monthly magazine.
Since October, Marsh, 74, has been embroiled with civil lawsuits, then criminal indictments, over allegations that he sexually abused teenage boys. Naturally, this hasn’t sat well with the locals.
The magazine reported:
As details of Marsh’s alleged abuse emerge, citizens in Amarillo are debating his legacy and whether the quirky Texas landmark should be dismantled.
“Seize the property at Cadillac Ranch under forfeiture laws!!!” one resident recently posted on the website of the Amarillo Globe News. “A stupid bunch of junk cars,” snapped another.
And lawyer Anthony G. Buzbee, who brought the recent lawsuits against Marsh, chimed in:
For Buzbee doing the right thing means ensuring that Cadillac Ranch comes down. “When people find out what this man is really like, they’ll want to come out and help me bulldoze the place,” he says. “We do not need a monument that honors an alleged child predator.”
Buzbee also compared Marsh’s case to the Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of child molestation.
First, Buzbee should remember that Marsh hasn’t been convicted of anything. In previous years, Marsh was sued or charged with indecent acts with children. However, the lawsuit was settled with no admission of wrongdoing, or the charges were dropped. As a Texan would likely put it, Buzbee is putting the cart before the horse.
If a jury convicts Marsh, the comparison of him to Sandusky is interesting — especially when one remembers the statue of Sandusky’s former boss, legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, being removed from campus after details of the allegations and Paterno’s lack of action emerged. The logic would go: Paterno’s statue can be taken away; why not Cadillac Ranch?
The difference is the Paterno statue honored Paterno. Cadillac Ranch doesn’t honor Marsh. According to its official website, Cadillac Ranch serves to remind “both Americans and foreigners of this great American automotive heritage,” not laud an eccentric Texas millionaire.
In fact, Marsh is not even the art installation’s creator. Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels of the Ant Farm art group were the ones who came up with the concept in 1974. Marsh serves as nothing more than the landlord.
As for Marsh’s legacy, about the only ones who care are locals. I’ll bet not one in ten of the visitors who come to Cadillac Ranch know who Marsh is. Add in the tourism dollars those thousands of visitors bring, it probably would be unwise for Amarilloans to dismantle the art installation.
Probably the best solution would be for Marsh to divest his holdings of the land where Cadillac Ranch sits, and let a local nonprofit or trust take it over. The fame of Cadillac Ranch transcends any one person, and should remain standing.
(Image of Cadillac Ranch by OneEighteen, via Flickr)