AMARILLO, Texas – When people talk about the panhandle, the panoramic beauty of Palo Duro canyon comes to mind for many – but for the rest, the ever-changing art of Cadillic Ranch is what this part of our state is all about.
People come from far and wide to paint these pieces of art except for one local who’s here for another reason – Crocodile Lile, Texas artist and self-described “lucky person.”
Crocodile Lile comes to the Cadillac Ranch to collect pieces of petrified paint.
“I’ve got probably enough chunks to build 10,000 sets, so I should be okay for a while,” said Lile.
But that doesn’t stop him from picking up a spray can from time to time.
“I’m making jewelry today,” Lile said.
You heard that right. Bob uses the paint sprayed on these symbols of the Lone Star State and makes them into Texas treasures wver at his studio on historic 66.
Crocodile carefully examines his collection of potential masterpieces as his lackadaisical guard dog Lady watches passersby from her perch at the front door. Crocodile starts by bringing the shine to some aging acrylic.
“Once in a while I’d find a piece that was really pretty,” said Lile.
A few years back, Crocodile had an idea of making the layers of latex that fell off the cars at Cadillac Ranch into something. First he made pieces of art portraying the caddies with the collected colors but then he got a bright idea.
“Lile Art Gallery, the exclusive home of Cadilite jewelry,” Lile said.
While it’s not like polishing a fine gem or dazzling diamond, the final product looks priceless. The countless coats of color come together to make some amazing accidental masterpieces as diverse as the designs on the old de Ville.
“Sometimes it’s dark and, you know, sometimes bright reds, and greens and blues, and sometimes it’s muted. So you never know,” said Lile. “Sometimes you get a piece of gold or piece of silver or sparklies. Sometimes you just hit paper and it ruins the whole thing.”
Working with such an odd medium has its moments.
“You worked and worked and worked and worked and it’s ugly. You spend six hours on a piece and it’s ugly. So you throw it away and I thought, well, my wife encouraged me and I just kept working,” Lile said.
The pieces of Cadilite careen out the door and the creation couldn’t have come at a better time for Crocodile.
“I’m just thankful that I stumbled on something. I was going to close my art gallery last October, and I’m just thankful I stumbled on something that’s helping to keep it open,” said Lile.
So after you stop by the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo cruise on by Crocodile Lile’s Art Gallery, just be on the lookout for Lady, and see how polishing paint chips has provided this Lone Star State artist with a peculiar way to take a piece of Texas with you wherever you go.
“Can’t always judge success by how many dollars you’ll make, but yeah, all notoriety is good, I guess,” Lile said.