Photo Opportunities (Texas Edition):
Miles and Miles of Texas
Photo Opportunities (Texas Edition): Miles and Miles of Texas is a series of vignettes about Texas roadside attractions as photo opportunities, such as Prada Marfa, Marathon Target, the Toilet Seat Art Museum, and Buc-ee's chain of colossal gas stations and convenience stores.
Outlier's interest is in the nexus between landscape, art (both "official" and "outsider"), and roadside attractions, such as the beer can house and the cathedral of junk on the one hand, and Prada Marfa and land art (such as Spiral Jetty) on the other, all of which are listed as attractions on sites such as RoadsideAmerica.com. But where do you draw the line between those attractions, and more commercial ones, such as Buc-ee's, Cabela's wildlife tableaux within a retail store, or Playboy Marfa (now located in Dallas), commissioned to an important artist, but intended to update the Playboy image to appeal to a more hip, millenial audience, and threatened with removal as an illegal billboard? We don't profess to have the answers, but we hope to raise some interesting questions and create a dialogue with our viewers.
Four episodes have been completed so far (see below). Some others are in the can, but not edited: Buc-ee's, The Ghost Doorway, The Toilet Seat Museum, Cabela's, and the Squirrel Statue and Pecan Vending Machine, with more still to come.
Prada Marfa (2016)
Prada Marfa is the first segment of Photo Opportunities (Texas Edition): Miles and Miles of Texas. As both official art and perhaps the most Instagramamable place on earth, Prada Marfa, which simulates a Prada store in the remote desert landscape near Marfa, TX, is a fitting subject for the inaugural episode of our series.
Target Marathon (2016)
The second episode in Outlier's web series, Photo Opportunities: Texas Edition -- Miles and Miles of Texas, Target Marathon investigates what Roadside America describes as a guerilla art installation "less sublime than Prada Marfa down the road." Unlike Prada Marfa, no one has taken credit for Target Marathon, nor did it receive any art foundation funding or official sanction from the corporate entity it references. The Target logos are instantly recognizable, but the tiny former railroad shack underneath resists the superficial repurposing, and the work as a whole is anonymous and enigmatic, beneath the notice of the Prada Marfa project artists and high art institutions. Is it trivial, or so purely outsider art that it risks being unrecognizable as art? For Outlier, it's a photo opportunity to share, worth a look in a series interested in the nexus between landscape, art (both "official" and "outsider"), and roadside attractions.
World's Largest Cowboy Boots (2016)
Third in Outlier's Photo Opportunities (Texas Edition): Miles and Miles of Texas, a series of vignettes about Texas roadside attractions as photo opportunities, World's Largest Cowboy Boots takes as its subject Daddy-o Wade's sculpture, now located at one of the entrances to the North Star Mall in San Antonio, TX. Some large things, such as Daddy-O's cowboy boots (35'3") or Picasso's monumental untitled sculpture in Chicago's Daley Plaza (50' and more than 160 tons), are intended as "art" (of the large, public variety). While both were controversial in their own way, Picasso's work, which he characterized as a gift to the people of Chicago without deigning to identify what it was meant to signify, is unlike Daddy-o's, which is fully representational. Can we differentiate the World's Largest Cowboy Boots Sculpture from other world's largest things, such as the World's Largest Lipstick Sculpture or the World's Largest Seashell Sculpture (both identified as sculptures on the Guinness Book of World's Records website), or from the World's Largest Chili Can, the World's Largest Six Pack, or the World's Largest Cone Topped Beer Can, which might be the world's largest (not certified by Guinness), but are not characterized as sculptures? What is art anyway? We have fun investigating such questions -- then you be the judge!
Stonehenge II (2016)
Fourth in Outlier's Photo Opportunities (Texas Edition): Miles and Miles of Texas, a series of vignettes about Texas roadside attractions as photo opportunities, Stonehenge II investigates the large Stonehenge replica, now located at the Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram, TX, a location that solidifies its status as public art (as well as a roadside attraction). Stonehenge II was the unanticipated result when Al Shepperd's neighbor Doug Hill gifted him with a large rock left over from a landscaping project, and Al got "Stonehenge fever." Doug soon found himself building a large scale replica henge on Al's ranch, which became a local sensation, caused traffic jams, became a tourist destination, the site of weddings, album covers, medieval reenactments, and eventually a backdrop for an early episode of "Friday Night Lights." Stonehenge II's location is not that far from Austin -- how could Outlier resist a visit? Moreover, our research quickly revealed that "Stonehenge Fever" is a widespread phenomenon, with 83 currently extant large replica henges on six continents. For just a taste of how widespread, see the excellent blog, Clonehenge (clonehenge.com), or the Wikipedia article (Stonehenge replicas and derivatives, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge_replicas_and_derivatives).
Outlier was hooked! After we documented Stonehenge II, "Stonehenge fever" led us to investigate a little known henge on a hill in northwestern Illinois, and then to build our own mini replica henges, which we shot with simulated Solstice lighting. Warning! "Stonehenge Fever" may be contagious ... after watching our film, you might find yourself following Clonehenge on Facebook (facebook.com/Clonehenge/) or posting something to one of their Friday Foodhenge events.
Are more Photo Opportunities coming?
We have more footage in the can.
See some production stills from the first four Photo Opportunities and from possible future photo opportunities: