The Dynamite Museum
“Brainchild of Stanley Marsh III, local legend/millionaire with more artistic vision than all the lofts in Soho. He is also the major funder of the Dynamite Museum. What, you may ask, is the Dynamite Museum? I have to tell you, this is what hooked me on Amarillo. The ‘museum’ is a bunch of mock road-signs, planted in front yards all over the city, with cryptic, humorous, sage and ridiculous messages and/or pictures. From Walt Whitman’s ‘The fog comes on little cat’s feet’, to a picture of a ‘Scuba Pig’, to ‘Hear the Fat Lady sing, one block over’ and ‘Hey, buddy, got a smoke?’, to my personal favorite ‘I look really dangerous, and people hang on my every word’. In and of itself, the Dynamite Museum is probably the greatest work of outdoor art ever, but the really cool part is talking to the locals about it. If you ask your waitress ‘What’s up with the signs?’, she will look you straight in the eye and tell you they just appear in the night, and if you try to remove them, the city will fine you. If you ask someone at City Hall the same question, they might tell you the City wants them out, but Mr. Marsh will remove any Mayor who says so. And the next person will tell you Stanley Marsh doesn’t exist, the Chamber of Commerce is behind the whole thing. So, it is not just a work of art, but an inside joke, shared by the quarter million townsfolk, and a way to have fun at visitors expense. You could honestly spend two days, just driving around sign spotting.”
The above signs are some of my favorites; Alex and I spent about six hours on Wednesday just driving around (at least 21 miles) and photographing these signs. We found 112, but I know there are many more. (Brittani and I will be going out some other day to look for more). I also wrote down the addresses, and once I have time (whatever that means), I’m going to make an interactive Web site chronicling the museum. Pictures are posted all over the Internet, but no one seems to have mapped it yet.
A woman whose house bears the sign “wild and free” came outside while I was trying to read her address numbers, and I explained what we were doing. She looked to be in her 60s or 70s, with short white hair, a red t-shirt and glasses.
“Isn’t that neat?” she said, beaming. “I just love it.”
It was hot. Not hot for here, of course, maybe the upper-80s; but after traipsing all over town, Alex and I decided we needed water and something cold, so we hopped over to Cowboy Gelato.