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In the Name of Art, a '59 Caddy Is Turned into a 'pierced Arrow'

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It was billed as Death of an Era and the point, so to speak, was Dustin Shuler’s view of current society. “I’m a contemporary artist,” he explains. “I leave myself open to what my peers are feeling. I’ve been trying to nail a car for two years.”

He finally achieved that odd ambition last month on the campus of California State University at Dominguez Hills, as 1,000 watched under a full moon. A 1959 Cadillac, one of the heaviest cars ever made, was set atop four symbolic oil drums by a crane. Then a 20-foot long, stainless steel nail, which Shuler nicknamed Two Ton, was raised 115 feet above the car.

With the crowd yelling “Go for it,” Two Ton was released and fell straight and true, piercing the Caddy. Shuler, 32, ambled up to the car and with one hand on the nail announced proudly, “It was a good hunt. I got my limit.” He then had the car toppled onto its side.

Shuler’s spike, which took him three months to forge in his Santa Ana studio, made its debut as “art” a year ago when he used it to impale a structure he had dubbed The Wall of Apathy at the Newport Harbor (Calif.) Art Museum. Shuler says his construction-destruction art is “an event. It’s something I’m willing to do by myself. But so many people get a kick out of it, I want to do it for an audience.”

The nailed Cadillac will repose in the sculpture garden at Cal State for the next few weeks. “They wanted me to leave it,” says Shuler. “They wanted to buy it, but Two Ton has other work to do.”