Jun 12, 2009
Stanley Marsh III
"Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well," states Amarillo, Texas millionaire and art patron Stanley Marsh III. For well over three decades Marsh, an 81-year old oilman now interested in wind power, has commissioned work by artists on his large panhandle ranch.
Most famously, Marsh commissioned the art collective Ant Farm to create a site-specific project on his land which resulted in the immensely popular Cadillac Ranch.
Marsh commissioned a project by Robert Smithson, who died that same year ('73) while surveying his site from an airplane. Smithson's wife Nancy Holt and others worked to complete the work, entitled Amarillo Ramp.
Other Marsh commissions include Floating Mesa (artist and year unknown) as well as a fleet of faux street signs with obscure messages.
While I'm certainly appreciative of the great works Marsh has commissioned, I'm most interested in the way he has become an institution of sorts that has helped to fuel the art careers of several generations of Texas panhandle youth. Here are images of two emerging artists (Mad Dog and Larry Bob Phillips) who grew up experiencing and making art via Stanley Marsh's encouragement and personal eccentricity. If you've been to Amarillo you know that art is not necessarily synonymous with its landscape and history, yet Marsh has in his own bizarre (and at times reportedly illicit) fashion, created an institution for art making. I've always wanted to do a project about the artists Marsh has influenced but have so far been derailed by other things. I have a hunch the Marsh story is much darker, more complex, and interesting than the one I find online.