Clasic Airstreams as Art??
. just a tad off topic but cute
If you've driven on Interstate 4 between Plant City and Tampa recently,
you've probably noticed them. Eight silver travel trailers tilt eastward at
a roughly 20-degree angle, wheel sides forward, looking a bit like dominoes
caught in freeze-frame just as they begin to topple. Their wrinkled
aluminum skins reflect the sunlight, even on a recent overcast afternoon,
creating a diversion that is almost impossible to ignore among billboards
and traffic signs along a typically charmless stretch of highway 11 miles
west of the Polk County line.
Its creator has dubbed it Airstream Ranch, an homage to both Texas' Cadillac
Ranch and a popular brand of trailers he happens to sell at his nearby
recreational vehicle dealership.
"People get a big kick out of it," said Frank Bates, owner of Bates RV and
the designer of Airstream Ranch, which occupies a grassy plot a quarter-mile
west of his dealership fronting I-4's eastbound lanes. "They drive by and
see it and enjoy it. It's something to look at."
While Bates calls it art, Hillsborough County officials offer a less
romantic description - code violation - and they want it removed. The county
has scheduled a hearing on the matter next Friday, and signs at the Bates RV
dealership reading "Save Airstream Ranch" direct customers to petitions
supporting the assemblage as "a historic Florida roadside attraction." Bates
said about 3,000 people have signed the petitions.
Bates envisioned Airstream Ranch last year, as Airstream Inc. was
celebrating its 75th year. A Texas native, Bates had long admired Cadillac
Ranch, an outdoor display of 10 partially buried Cadillacs in Amarillo,
Texas, devised by businessman Stanley Marsh III and erected by the art
collective The Ant Farm in 1974.
Though Bates originally wanted to install shiny, pristine Airstreams, as
2007 wound down he bought six trailers from a junkyard to go with two he
already owned. In early January, workers using a backhoe and a large crane
spent two days burying the trailers nose first, 6 to 8 feet deep. By the
time the third Airstream was planted, three news helicopters had arrived to
get aerial footage.
Bates, 52, had hoped to include an Airstream from each decade of the
company's existence. He settled for trailers dating from 1957 through 1994
and ranging from 16 feet to 34 feet.
Photographers from across the country have swooped in to capture Airstream
Ranch on film or pixels. Bates invites visitors to stop at his dealership,
where employees can shuttle them by golf cart to the site, rather than
stopping along I-4 to take pictures.
"My one mistake is I made sure all the good sides were facing the road
(I-4)," Bates said. "The problem is the sun shines from the south, so the
photographers always want to take pictures from the south side and always
take pictures of the bad side, which I feel terrible about."
As Bates recently gave a reporter a tour, a car arrived from the south,
taking advantage of an open gate, and a couple approached the trailers on
foot, bearing cameras.
Gene Toole, an Ohioan spending the winter at a nearby mobile home park, said
he wanted a photo for a friend who has an Airstream.
"I think it's unique," Toole said of Airstream Ranch. "I know there's an
issue with some neighbors. Most people I've talked to are kind of positive
Word of Airstream Ranch recently reached Marsh through a reporter from the
"I said, 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,'" Marsh told The
Ledger by phone. "I don't own the idea of 10 tilted poles. I hope your area
and your artists have as much fun with it as I have had with mine. If I were
in your neighborhood, I'd go look at it."
If Airstream Ranch is allowed to remain, Bates said he'd like to replace
some of the dented trailers with better preserved models. He said students
from Tampa Bay Technical High School have offered to landscape the site and
install lights so that the trailers can be seen at night. Bates envisions
creating a park and playing host to art shows and even weddings.
But the future of Airstream Ranch is in serious doubt. Ed Brill,
Hillsborough County's manager of code enforcement, said Bates' violations
include improper off-site advertising and misuse of agricultural land. Bates
denied the advertising charge, noting the display contains no signs.
Brill said the citations followed complaints from people living in a
neighborhood just to the south.
Hillsborough's code-enforcement board, a group of seven citizens, will
consider the case at next Friday's hearing in Tampa. Brill's department will
present its side, Bates will be invited to respond and citizens also will be
allowed to speak. If the board sides with the code-enforcement department,
Brill said Bates will be given some time to remove the trailers before he
starts incurring fines.
Bates argues that Airstream Ranch is a work of art, and in the lobby of his
dealership he displays a letter from Alan Moore, an art professor at the
University of South Florida, supporting that assertion. Bates notes that a
1963 Airstream Bambi resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Marsh, told of the controversy, instantly sided with Bates, whom he doesn't
"I think the First Amendment gives us complete freedom of expression and is
more important than any zoning or local officials," Marsh said. "I think
whoever attempts to remove it is a philistine."
Bates doesn't make such high-flown arguments; he just wants to keep his
vertical trailer park.
"Everyone in Texas knows Stanley Marsh III because he did Cadillac Ranch,"
Bates said. "Well, it would be kind of neat in 30 or 40 years if everyone
knew Frank Bates because he did Airstream Ranch."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In email@example.com, "Wesley Furr" <wesley@...> wrote:
>I see THEY got our number. More junk today. If that isn't stopped I amsure it will be like other sites I belonged to, totally ignored by
members because it becomes mostly junk and porn or sorts.
This is a good sit, lets not loose it to SPAMERS and such.
> Because new members to this group are allowed immediate and un-moderated
> -----Original Message-----
> OK how did the last two slip in??
- What in the hxxl kind of info is that Deborah posting... ?
Pimping some slanteyes! Nuttin' but gold diggers there looking for
a free ride... I think their 50,000 bhat is worth about $.25 which
might be a months wages there... and remember what the mothers end
up looking like...and selling unwanted junk etc. I think that crap
belongs someplace or somewhere else...
Where is the "muderatore"????
If she can.. so can I?.
Hey... try www.redlightcenter.com
Wake up some one or body......
Can't believe I am becoming one of THOSE...
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Wesley Furr" <wesley@...> wrote:
> Because new members to this group are allowed immediate and un-
> -----Original Message-----
> OK how did the last two slip in??