Passions and hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, including toilet seats. Barney Smith decorated and customized toilet seats for over 50 years, passing away at 98 years old in 2019. His life’s work is currently on display at the Truck Yard beer garden in Houston, Texas, carefully relocated from his garage in San Antonio, Texas.
Off the beaten path in a dusty town 25 miles east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, lies a roadside attraction that is as enchanting and wondrous as it is perplexing. Tinkertown Museum is a one-of-a-kind destination for all things whimsical—and its mythic appeal to locals and far-flung travelers for over 40 years might be what keeps it going.
Deep in the heart of the West Texas desert, sitting conspicuously alongside a lonely and infrequently traveled highway is a Prada boutique. That’s right, a hyper-realistic art installation, built to replicate one of the luxury brand’s high concept stores, has stood in place, unstaffed and virtually inaccessible, for fifteen years. And despite the lack of transactional fashion available, the site remains a steady draw. So how exactly did this desert oasis come to be?
Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone wants to promote the “creative expression of human presence in the desert.” His large-scale public art installation, titled “Seven Magic Mountains,” does that and more. It is a towering display of seven, colorful towers that soar above the landscape, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Two hours east of San Diego, on the remote Southern California S-3 highway, you may find yourself in a strange new world. Two bucks rearing on their hind legs make a stunning sight across the flat landscape. Then a giant scorpion fighting with a beetle. The profile of a sand dragon breaks the desert skyline. Welcome to Borrego Springs, California.
Where many see an abandoned building set for demolition, an artist can envision a masterpiece. In an abandoned art deco mansion, Melbourne artist Rone continues his tradition of combining large-scale street art portraits with immersive art installations in buildings set for destruction.
The “Rainbow Village” is a whimsical living art museum in the Nantun district of Taichung City, Taiwan, featuring a small collection of houses painted in vibrant patterns and bright colors by retired soldier Huang Yung-fu.
Created in 1974 by the San Francisco-based avant-garde art collective “Ant Farm,” Cadillac Ranch is a startling roadside installation just 10 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas. Architects Chip Lord and Doug Michels, along with art student Hudson Marquez bought ten used Cadillac cars at an average cost of $200 each from local junkyards to use them for their unique project.
The “Heidelberg Project” is a world-famous square block of street art in a neighborhood once scarred by drugs and crime on Detroit’s East Side. It was created by urban environmental artist Tyree Guyton, assisted by his wife and grandfather, in 1986, in his effort to draw people’s attention to the state of the city following the 1967 Detroit Riots.
Located in California’s Colorado Desert, 3.2 miles northeast of Niland near Slab City, 11 miles north of Calipatria, and 54.8 miles from the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, in Imperial County, is the product of one man’s lifelong try to spread the message of universal love.