Originally Posted by nilesrob
So Alan, I'm curious. What happens to the old AS with the slight wind damage? Do they haul that bad boy off?
You could donate to the 'Airstream Ranch' down in Florida...
Kinda like the 'Cadillac Ranch' out in Texas.
Airstream Ranch's Creator Says He Sees Beauty in Old RVs | TheLedger.com
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 about it."
Word of Airstream Ranch recently reached Marsh through a reporter from the Amarillo Globe-News.
"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 know.
"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."