'Cowboy Ruckus' - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

'Cowboy Ruckus'

Corona, New Mexico

Catch two 18-foot-tall ranchers mid-brawl as you drive by on Highway 285. 


Two giant cowboys, each 18 feet high to be exact, have been locked in a standoff since 2016. One cowboy points accusingly at the other who shrugs in confusion. Each stands facing the other across Highway 285 in New Mexico, about 300 feet apart. The cutouts are based on Mike and Mark Marley, the ranchers who own these plots of land. The two brothers had never modeled before, and it took some coaxing to get them to assume the stance the artist wanted.

The artist in question is John Cerney, best known for his larger-than-life plywood cut-out sculptures around the United States. Highlights from his works include a trio of baby Nigerian dwarf goats, a 14-foot-tall James Dean, and a scene of a first encounter with aliens beside a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico.  

While the models for the cutouts were based on the Marley brothers, the actual inspiration came from an argument that Cerney had witnessed in his hometown of Salinas, California. In fact, his muses were not rough-and-tumble cowboys, but instead a pair of prostitutes, hurling insults across the street. As Cerney described the incident, “It was a scene that couldn’t be ignored for its drama. It stuck with me.”

Know Before You Go

Although you can see their silhouettes quite clearly even from a distance, there is a handy spot at the shoulder to pull over and take a picture.

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October 18, 2023
January 19, 2024

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