Houston-based investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino has launched the “Erase the Marsh Madness” social media campaign urging the removal the thousands of mock traffic signs sprinkled throughout the Amarillo area, reports the Amarillo Globe-News. The signs were created during the 1990s by the Dynamite Museum and are considered by many to reflect the quirky lawless spirit of the Amarillo charm. The problem for some is that they were financed by the way-more-than-quirky Stanley Marsh 3.
Marsh 3 died in June of 2014 in the midst of facing criminal sex abuse charges. Dolcefino and attorney Chad Pinkerton represent eight plaintiffs in a civil suit filed against Marsh 3’s wife and a number of his associates.
“The milk train doesn’t stop here anymore,” is a quirky sign (Marsh 3 created that one himself), but others have suggestive phrases such as “They didn’t have on any underpants at all” or “There’s good times coming boys” which now just seem icky.
In 2013, artist Jason Morin offered to paint over the signs and about a dozen sign owners took him up it until Marsh 3’s people offered to simply remove any signs no longer wanted by the sign owners. Matthew Williams, assistant art instructor at West Texas A&M University and a former Dynamite Museum member, has catalogued more than 1,500 signs and has identified the artists behind most of them. Williams said the property owners own the signs, not the Marsh estate.
Jennifer Evans-Cowley, the former Amarillo planner states, “My argument is: forget who paid for it. It was a group of artists that did the work, much like the artists that did the Cadillac Ranch. Do the signs have artistic value in the community?” But this is not a position shared by Christopher Knight when writing about the Cosby Collection at the National Museum of African Art in the Los Angeles Times.
Dolcefino has not exactly been the darling of the Houston arts community since his 2008 TV takedown of Houston Arts Alliance Hotel Tax funding. “Imagine if you were a victim of sexual assault and every day you have to see pictures or memories of the person who did it staring you in the face,” Dolcefino said. “If the Marsh family wants to have a [physical] museum and put it behind closed doors, fine.”