Monday, January 21
marfalafels in marfa, texas
Marfa is a tiny Texan town unlike any place you'll ever come across. The fabric of Marfa is sewn with small pockets of guarded indie culture housed in rustic or pastel coloured country buildings - the overall experience of which competes with anything you'd find in New York or Wellington. Zane and I wandered the town for hours, exploring any place with an open door - we became increasingly sentimental in the crisp, fresh air.
The lovely woman who curates the boutique store Freda explained to us a brief history of Marfa's cultural development which almost accidentally began with the arrival of minimalist artist, Donald Judd. Judd haphazardly chose a town in the middle of no-where in order to escape the claustrophobic cliques of the 1970s art scene in New York, New York. When Judd died, the Chinati Foundation and Judd Foundation were created in order to display and care for his prolific art pieces (which include furniture and huge indoor and outdoor sculptures). The Foundations' buildings spread throughout Marfa creating a steady flow of jobs and internships in the area which has led to creative people, with perhaps similar motives to Donald Judd, to occupy the area (although the Freda shop owner speculated on how Judd would have received this).
Unfortunately Zane and I misplanned our time in Marfa (the Judd tours are at specific times) as well as misunderstanding the Chinati Foundation's location which meant the only Donald Judd pieces we saw were through windows in the different buildings housing his work. However, after a thorough conversation with a lovely man who works at the Marfa Book Company (where you could spend the whole day browsing its beautiful books) we reworked out our day. For lunch we went to the Food Shark and although it was a tad overcrowded, with 50 minute waits on food, the converted caravans for the Food Shark kitchen and dining room were an interior designer's dream, as well as the cleverly crafted outdoor wooden benches. After lunch we visited the old El Paisano Hotel (still running) where stars like James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor stayed while filming the classic 'Giant'. Practically next door (FYI everything in Marfa is practically next door) to the hotel were two Ayn Foundation galleries, one of which was displaying paintings of the Last Supper by Andy Warhol - the lady at the desk was charming in an Iris Apfel way.
I loved visiting the Cobra store where three stylish, attractive and slightly shy artists and designers were sitting making winter boots, surrounded by fantastic photos of Texan hunters (which one of them had taken) and carefully curated knickknacks. Marfa also has a few contemporary art spaces one of which is called Ballroom which commissioned the Prada store front installation. Later in the afternoon Zane and I stopped by Freda for a chat and browse, then the Wrong store which is in a converted chapel and slightly hard to find (despite the giant orange horse shoe sculpture out the front). Wrong is filled with contemporary, Mexican influenced sculptures and products and we ended up staying there for an hour chatting to an out of towner who was manning the desk while the owners went on holiday. He explained to us the story behind a series of excellent 60s Swinger party photos on the wall which came into existence by luck when the owner of Wrong came across some negatives at a garage sale and decided to print them on a whim. Zane and I were told to say hi to his buddy in New York (however I have already forgotten the name of the bar his friend worked at) and then we left the store. The last places we visited that day was Texas' number one indie grocery store 'The Get Go' and the very cool El Cosmico campsite where a gaggle of beautifully dressed 20 somethings were staying in teepees to celebrate the New Years (hopefully they had tactics to fend off the desert coyotes and pumas which everyone warns you about!).
When driving out of Marfa, the site of the fantastic rock formations and forever expanding desert caught in the last light of sun burned into my mind a deep sense of happiness for the day I had just experienced. In many ways Zane and I only grazed the surface of Marfa and there are many things on my checklist that are still waiting to be crossed out.