I’ve been to Marfa too! It would be a common cry amongst design savvy seekers, for some would argue that Marfa is now the design hub of Texas. A tiny dusty town on the west side of the Texas border, It’s well worth the trek and if you love design, it’s a must see. Many have made the pilgrimage and judging from all the minimalist hipster influences, it’s definitely happened!
Joining a tribe of fellow art lovers, Marcus from SMH, Inc made the journey on an extensive road trip that started in New Orleans and ended in Austin, driving across Texas state from East to West, Many aspects of that trip will be featured in other future posts but due to the broad coverage of many exciting places, for now we have settled on Marfa for this post.
In the 1950’s, Marfa was better known for it’s Marfa Ghost Lights, seen on Route 67, Many thought they were ghosts or UFO’s. In the 1970’s Artist Donald Judd moved in and it all changed, After renting summer houses for a couple of years, Donald bought two large hangars and some smaller buildings and began to permanently install his art. While this started with his building in New York, the buildings in Marfa allowed him to install his works on a larger scale. In 1976, he bought the first of two ranches that would become his primary places of residence, continuing a long love affair with the desert landscape surrounding Marfa. Later, with assistance from the Dia Art Foundation in New York, Judd acquired decommissioned Fort D.A. Russell, and began transforming the fort's buildings into art spaces in 1979. Judd's vision was to house large collections of individual artists' work on permanent display, as a sort of anti-museum.
Since Judd's death in 1994, two foundations have worked to maintain his legacy: the Chinati Foundation and Judd Foundation. The Chinati Foundation now occupies more than 10 buildings at the site and has on permanent exhibit work by artists such as Dan Flavin, and Claes Oldenburg. The Chinati and Judd Foundation’s are just amazing to visit and it is recommended you spend just two days exploring these, for those less museum inclined there is still plenty to do with great hotel’s, restaurants and shops to explore although you do have to be ready to seek many of them out as Marfa is not set up in an “obvious” way with many of these places hard to find and hard to get into during busy periods.
Top 5 top things to do in Marfa:
- Hang out at The Hotel St George which is a hub of activity and houses a great bookstore, bar and restaurant, even better to stay there and it’s all at your fingertips.
- Visit all the Donald Judd available tours, too much Judd is never enough!
- Try the food! Food Shark is very popular and a lot of fun but be prepared to line up, Cochineal is very hard to get into but has a great outdoor area, Bun’s and Roses for breakfast and Stellina which is also well worth the wait. Many places don’t take booking’s so get there early!
- Go to Wrong Gallery for amazing work to buy from local artists, visit their site for opening hour details
- Walk around the backstreets and have your camera handy, there are so many photo opportunities and the landscape is breathtaking