Marfa: An Art Oasis in the West Texas Desert
Have you ever felt like you were in an Indie film—where things are just enough off center to make you question your surroundings, but so cool—in an artsy sorta way—you can hardly drink it all in? That defines my weekend in Marfa, Texas—a town 3 hours northeast of the El Paso airport, only arrived at by inching through strict border patrol passings with armed men and guard dogs.
Bright Sky Press organized a weekend for a hodgepodge of eight photographers, foodies, artists, and bloggers. John DeMers, author of Marfa Shadows was our host and tour guide. And other than brief encounters with four of the bloggers a few months back (and I mean brief), I really didn't know anyone. But what a better way to get up close and personal than to be nearly Internet-less and on the road for three days together in the west Texan desert.
To capture the trip would require blog posts upon blog posts, but my weekend can best be summed up in three words: contrast, connection, and culture.
On your way into Marfa (although still well outside the city limits and literally in the middle of nowhere) sits a Prada store. No! It's not a real store. It's what they call an "installation"—set up there just for kicks. It features the 2005 Prada collection and looks like it was plucked off of Rodeo Drive and set down in the middle of the desert. Nothing is next to it. Just style in a sea of tumbleweed. This stark contrast prepares you for everything you are about to experience in Marfa, Texas from the mysterious Marfa Lights to the hail storm we happened upon in the middle of the desert on a 100-degree day with nothing but big blue Texan skies ahead of and behind us.
Nothing brings a group closer than meals and memories. And Marfa offered up those in spades. Connections formed from the moment we left the airport in our beautiful Chevy Traverse.
OnStar to Us: Well hello! How may I be of assistance?
Us to OnStar: (At midnight in El Paso, weary from a long day of traveling) How do we get to Marfa?
OnStar to Us: (Hired for her super nice voice, I'm sure) Let me give you step-by step directions.
Isabel to Me: It's like we have our own personal concierge! I love OnStar.
Me to Isabel: I know, right?
From our 3-hour drive in the wee morning hours and the stories shared in our little Casita to stepping on stones in the Rio Grande, our patchwork quilt of a group experienced together, we learned together, we ate together, and we formed friendships.
Culture oozes out of Marfa. German work camps have been transformed into industrial art space. Former Brooklyn, New York restaurateurs have planted new roots. And let me tell you... it's nothing short of a work of art to see lemon mashed potatoes on a menu in the middle of the desert. Galleries line the streets. They occupy space in the backs of book stores. Unexpected artistic surprises spring up everywhere. Take our happening upon Andy Warhol's Last Supper exhibit as case in point.
If you feed on culture and photo opps, just spend a weekend in Marfa, walk through town, take a drive through the desert, make a stop in Terlingua, and soak it in.