There’s Art in Them There Fields

by Jessica on February 10, 2012

The wild, unruly fields of Texas.  When settlers first came to this land, they found an unforgiving, stubborn landscape, and with an equaled stubbornness, they tamed the land.  Trumpeting the determination of the early Texans, those angry fields produced an abundance of wealth and prosperity as cotton and oil sprang forth. But there is something else growing up in the fields of Texas that has nothing to do with wealth or prosperity or even good sense.  The fields of the Running N Ranch in rural Saint Jo are growing art.*

         *read with grit and drawl ala Clint Eastwood.  Try it, it’s fun!

It began as a way for rancher Earl Nunneley to spend his retirement, but when his installations began to draw a cult like following, especially among motorcyclists, he began to think more about his audience.  Using telephone poles and junkyard finds as big boy’s tinker toys, he has constructed a menagerie of works that have been hailed by critics in the genre of folk art, but are considered by neighbors to be just plain crazy. 

As you step through the cattle gate and over the cow patties, you’ll see the most prominent piece in the collection.  Fourteen telephone poles jut dramatically out of the earth in a fan position, creating a single shadow when viewed on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.   Just beyond that, the expansive view across the field is broken with the protrusion of a giant pair of cacti and what could be the world’s largest weather vane.

Playfully scattered across the pasture are a quintet of VW bugs that are clearly way past their prime, but have been given new life with a coat of ladybug paint and the addition of legs and antennae.   Blooming right alongside the whimsical bugs are a row of giant sunflowers composed of airplane rotary engines.  A new coat of paint each year keeps them looking fresh.

Whether the collection is an applauded contribution to the world of folk art or the creations of a retiree an air bubble off plumb,well, that is in the eye of the beholder.   Standing in the field gazing upward though, you can’t deny the je ne sais quoi that comes over you.  Perhaps Earl’s brother said it best.  “It’s just one of them things.  He wanted to do it, and he done it.”

~To visit Running N Ranch, take Hwy 82 from Gainesville towards Saint Jo.  Turn south on FM 677 and drive about 1 mile toward the middle of nowhere.  If you see the house with the three legged dog on the porch, you’ve gone too far.  You’ll see Earl’s art from the road and you can find parking where Earl moved his fence back for his fans.  Just let yourself in the gate, but be sure to close it behind you so you don’t let the cows out.~

Check out more photos at Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.


walkingontravels February 10, 2012 at 1:41 am

Love it! I still can't get over those "Bugs" crawling about. So, so cool! And amazing pics lady. Keep up the great work. 

Mary @ The World Is A Book February 10, 2012 at 2:16 am

I don't know which of these shots I like the most but I'm particularly drawn to the rotary engine sunflowers.  I love everything about the first photo.  Beautiful!  Recycling is a good thing.

Pieni lintu February 10, 2012 at 3:41 am

Those are so funny. :)

Sophie February 10, 2012 at 4:45 am

Spontaneous art, gotta love it! This is very cool and something I'd like to see if I'm in the area. Gainesville… that's not too far from Dallas, right?

Dominique February 10, 2012 at 6:14 am

These are great pieces! You've got to applaud Earl for following his dream and to do a little recycling along the way.

Lisa February 10, 2012 at 9:38 am

I love the bugs!  You continue to surprise me with your posts about Texas – there is so much more to the state than I ever realized there was.

ThisLife February 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

I love the bugs! So fun!

Tracy Burns February 10, 2012 at 10:39 am

Wow those look amazing. Amazing photos also. The bugs get my vote too. We came across something like this on a smaller scale in a little country town in Australia. One artist had filled his farm with sculptures of giant ants attacking cars, metal flowers and huge sculptures.

Preparing for Takeoff February 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I love fun, public art– so great!

Brooke @ Covered in Grace February 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hi! I am visiting you from the photo friday link up!
I love those VW bugs! Great shots.  I would love to find something like that to snap away at!

Anwar February 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Wow that is so interesting and so unique. Thanks for sharing them I really like the art!

Steve February 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

That's pretty impressive. I might side with his neighbours and think he's crazy, but I'd still go out of my way to take a look. Great job with the pictures!

Terumi February 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Oh my goodness I love it:)  I would love to go see this art!  What a great way to retire.

Priya February 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Really cute post, all the shots are great and colorful!

InACents February 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Those aren't the cactus I expected when I heard of coming to Texas. :)

Sonja February 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Since I'm not much of an artist – well actually not an artist in any way – I never understand people's motivation for urban art like this.  But I have to say, a retired rancher doing it for fun on his own property is kinda cool!  Good for him!

Terri @ Travel 50 States with Kids February 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Love it!  Especially the flowers!

MIchael Figueiredo February 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

What terrific photography! I love the vibrant colors. :)

Lauren Johnson February 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

That is SO cool! I love it! That man is surely creative. Love the bugs in the field. I have to feature this at tomorrow's Oh Snap! party. :)

Sabrina February 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

How cool! I wonder if they got some inspiration from the Cadillac Ranch :) I think I prefer this though.

Denise February 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm

beautiful shots and wonderful art work!

Cathy Sweeney February 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Love this! My fave is the cacti. Good for Earl Nunneley creating such cool works. Great photos and I like the directions to his ranch.

Nancie February 17, 2012 at 1:11 am

Love these shots, and welcome to Travel Photo Thursday!

Jenna February 17, 2012 at 1:14 am

Fun! I love art, and your photos are great!

RyukyuMike February 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

You have a great eye for photography !

Becca@R We There Yet Mom? February 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

I saw your pics a few weeks ago on FB and I was dying to know where you were!!  I LOVE it!!
Thanks for sharing with it  and yes, totally read the whole article in "Clint"!  HA!

Andrew Graeme Gould February 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

What a great and unusual idea! Excellent series of images, too. All the best from Santiago…

amber February 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

New fan, I just wanted to tell you when I click on your stumble icon it says page not found.  No biggie I just thought i'd let you kknow.  I'm enjoying your pictures.  Look forward to following more. 

Laurel February 18, 2012 at 3:35 am

I love this, so fun, playful and artistic!

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