I'm been very busy getting things settled for our move. Selling, scheduling, and researching but still attempting to check everything off of my personal West Texas Wish List.
Last weekend, I drove the three short hours from El Paso to Marfa, Texas. I couldn't leave West Texas without visiting this art haven at least once. While I didn't get to see and do everything (because I think that would be impossible in one day), I did get to hit some highlights and to experience some of what this odd and little lovely spot has to offer.
"a living sculpture, an installation that has taken on a life of its own."- Fairfax Dorn Co-founder and Artistic Director of Ballroom Marfa
This piece is probably the one with which you might be most familiar. Everyone and Beyonce has clamored in front of Prada Marfa to get their perfect, gram worthy shot (don't forget to #PradaMarfa). Prada Marfa is a permanent, site specific piece by Elmgreen & Dragset constructed and beloved since 2005. In order to give you a little background, Elmgreen told Texas Monthly, “[Prada Marfa] was meant as a critique of the luxury goods industry, to put a shop in the middle of the desert.”
Personally, I love Dorn's insight on the piece being "a living sculpture" possibly alive because of thoughts, feelings, interactions that each viewers brings to it and takes away from it. I highly recommend reading up a little on the piece before or even during the drive down to Marfa. The Ballroom Marfa has some amazing insights and information.
The Ballroom Marfa
There are many, many galleries and museums in Marfa and I wish I could have seen them all but the Ballroom Marfa was such a fantastic experience. You won't find artists' names, the titles of their work, the date, or the little blurbs neatly printed with brief explanations about the artists purpose or intend. Rather, you might encounter, as we did, a more personal approach: A friendly and highly knowledgeable art historian who will greet and encouraged you to inquire about the pieces. "There meaning might not jump out immediately but there are very complex and powerful pieces in our collection," I couldn't agree more with the gentleman who greeted us and really appreciate the warm, hands on approach the Ballroom took in educating visitors about the art and artists exhibited.
The Hotel Paisano
When I see Marfa, I see what El Paso could be. Marfa has preserved its history, maintaining it in exquisite detail and making the visitor feel as though they can see just what Marfa looked like 50 years ago. Just about 50 or so years ago, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean were staying at this Marfa hotel while they were filming the 1956 movie, Giant. And though Marfa boasts some fabulous lodging (El Cosmico and the Hotel Saint George), being an old Hollywood admirer, the Hotel Paisano would be at the top of my list. Not only is this grand historic hotel meticulously kept, you can still stay in the rooms which Taylor, Hudson, and Dean lodged in during their time in Marfa. A TCM lover's dream come true! I would recommend booking them early since hotels tend to book up quickly in Marfa.
The Chinati is the child museum and foundation of Donald Judd (June 3, 1928 – February 12, 1994), American contemporary artist and founder of the Chinati Foundation. His repeated "specific objects" (like the ones above) explore space and how we use and interact with it.
Personally, I found myself wondering why Marfa? Why did Judd choose this specific place so remote and so distant? It seems for Judd that Marfa presented the unique opportunity for him to escape into himself (ART/ARCHITECTURE; The Last Great Art Of the 20th Century). I highly recommending making a pilgrimage to the Chinati to interact with the space and perhaps take a moment to escape within yourself. For more information about the history, artists, and installations, visit the Chinati Foundation.