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Bullet-riddled vehicle new Marfa art car installation

September 24th, 2015 under Arts
(staff photo by SARAH M. VASQUEZ) From left, Lost Horse Saloon owner Ty Mitchell and Alpine-based muralist Stylle Reed unload the Bonnie and Clyde art car at the bar’s parking lot.

(staff photo by SARAH M. VASQUEZ)
From left, Lost Horse Saloon owner Ty Mitchell and Alpine-based muralist Stylle Reed unload the Bonnie and Clyde art car at the bar’s parking lot.

By SARAH M. VASQUEZ

MARFA – Driving west along US 90 into Marfa, the array of bullet holes on the bright yellow van parked at the Lost Horse Saloon could be mistaken for a crime scene, but it’s in fact another art installation in town.

Artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade of Austin always wanted to bring one of his larger-than-life sculptures to Marfa, possibly creating something for Lost Horse owner Ty Mitchell. He instead chose his Bonnie and Clyde mobile art car to be seen by Marfa’s residents and the revolving door of visitors.

The step van was “fabricated” in 1982 for a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. Wade was one of the 30 artists to receive an invitation and $1,000 to create an art car and used it to purchase a former laundry delivery step van in “tasteful gray.”

Brainstorming ideas for the 1980 Chevrolet van, he settled on a theme of the bank-robbing lovebirds, Bonnie and Clyde. He noticed a parallel between Dallas where he was at the time and where the couple was from, and Louisiana, where the couple was ambushed and killed in 1934 and where the parade would be.

And idea was born.

Wade wanted the van to be painted in a lighter color for more evident bullet holes. The cheapest color he could find was school bus yellow. He recruited a guy from Plano with a firing range and a machine gun to shoot the bullets all over the side of the van.

Since the parade, the van has spent time in Houston and Temple and has the spent the last 14 years at Lake Granbury, where current owner Johnny Langdon resides. Stylle Reed, who has created several iconic murals in Alpine, also worked on the art car before it was sent to Marfa. Reed is a former student of Wade and has become Wade’s go-to for refurbishing his artwork.

Wade is known for his large sculptures.

His 35-foot-tall cowboy boots at the entrance of North Star Mall in San Antonio were inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records this month as the Tallest Cowboy Boot Sculpture in the world. Take a trip to Austin and one will see a giant New Orleans Saints football helmet above Shoal Creek Saloon on North Lamar or the large fish coming out of the water at Hula Hut restaurant. The reason why he creates pieces of this stature is frankly to be seen.

“If it’s not a decent size, it’ll go away in space,” said Wade. “It’ll get eaten up quick.”

A documentary is in the works about the 40-foot iguana named Iggy, formally on top of the Lone Star Café in New York in 1978. The installation triggered a debate with the nearby neighborhood association over art versus signage. It wouldn’t be the last time Wade confronts this issue with other sculptures.

“These crazy projects of mine always take a life of its own,” said Wade.

Local filmmaker David Fenster documented the arrival of The Bonnie and Clyde art car in Marfa for the documentary. There was no controversy at the van’s arrival, but there was a little bit of rain.

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