Times are tough in Tiny Town

Excerpted from Santa Fe New Mexican

Julie Ann Grimm | The New Mexican  3/16/2008 – 3/17/


The term “outsider art” does not begin to describe what’s on display at Tiny Town. Even so, the roadside attraction just north of Madrid just isn’t what it used to be. Wind, weather, sun and the passing of time have turned the one-time sea of broken glass and artfully arranged bones into ramshackle, dilapidated outdoor display. 

Now the mayor of Tiny Town is moving on. 

Artist Tammy Jean Lange has been called a visionary and a “human firecracker” as well as a local icon in so-called outsider art, using roadkill, rusted objects and broken toys as her media. A discarded cigarette machine, rust-red iron cookstove, set of putt-put clubs and dozens of partially clothed dolls are among the current occupants. 

“If it isn’t dead, broken or rusted, I just can’t use it,” Lange said during an interview at Tiny Town, where she stood in stockinged feet on the bare ground, sipping an icy beverage in the afternoon. “It’s ‘Better Bones and Gardens,’ Mother Nature’s natural art.” 

Lange does not pay rent to use the 1 acre site, and over the last four years has done less and less to keep the place looking like the small wonder that it used to be, said longtime benefactor Bille Russell. Russell has for more than a decade allowed Lange to set up her found art on about an acre of her 112-acre Lodestar Ranch. 

When Lange, 49, also known as Tatt2 Tammy, started using the area as her primary residence and drifted away from what Russell called “brilliant things,” Russell said she reluctantly took steps to change the situation. 

“I think her art has a right to exist,” said Russell, who met Lange when a friend helped get her art into the Mineshaft Tavern gift shop. “So the initial deal was that Tiny Town could be there and she could work there, but she could not live there.” 

Russell said she was worn down by neighboring landowners who called the project an eyesore and wanted it cleaned up. “It had its peaks, but in four years it’s taken quite a dive,” she said. “It became more like a dump instead of her working her art.” Although she’s requiring Lange to move out and dispose of piles of debris that have grown up outside the fence that marks the borders of Tiny Town, Russell said the artwork is welcome to stay and Lange is welcome to keep working on it. read more…

Tammy Jean Lange  |  1958- |  Madrillos, NM

Found object environment  |  Created 1994 to present?

Along the Turquoise Trail, just outside Madrid, New Mexico lurks “The Bone Zone,” the ever-evolving found object and road kill environment/miniature village by Tammy Jean Lange, also known as Tatt2 Tammy. “I resurrect the dead animals and I give them a new life,” she says. “It’s art that dies to live.” A “No Bitching” sign greets visitors and sets the tone for encountering this frenetic, yet laid-back artist. Tammy happily shows her village that includes a saloon, church, jail, and auto body shop—and the shimmering river of broken glass that runs through it. A few years ago, an art scout from the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore saw her site, and shipped Tiny Town to the museum for a temporary show.  Tammy and her mother flew out for the opening, but during the event she stayed in another part of the building, “I see people when I want to see people,” she says. “I just want to make my art.”