February 25, 2015
Video still from Untitled (Now), 2014
A solo exhibition of Falls’ work will open at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, 2015.
This show comes from a few different ideas and places, one of which is the influence of Donald Judd and Marfa. It was my second trip to Marfa that struck me most, the unchanging nature of the place and sculptures, and while my own work has always been informed by minimal aesthetics and continues to be, the element I knew I wanted to incorporate, especially with my sculpture was change. This change has entered my work through incorporating the environment, so that the art reflects time and place, rather than denying or defying it. The reciprocal object exposed to time and environment beyond the artwork is the viewer. The piece which most readily responds to all these issues is the outdoor sculpture made from a 1984 Ford Ranger. When I moved from New York to California in 2011 I bought a new Ford Ranger, so in conceiving this sculpture I first wanted to find the same model truck from the year I was born. The truck had at some point been repainted red from its original tan color, and as humans regenerate their skin cells every seven years, I reversed the process on the truck and had it sandblasted in a random patter down to tan lines and then all the way to steel. Some of the panels of the truck were clear-coated to preserve the visible “skins” of the truck, while others are left to rust in the elements, exposed. The “life” of the truck was removed and repurposed with a new life, substituting the engine block with a marble block and potted cactuses, and the truck bed became a soil bed of succulents native to southern North America. As the copper pots of the cacti oxidize they’ll leave their mark on the white marble, and the succulents inside the truck and in the bed will take on the heart and purpose of the machine, growing with the environment and viewers.
The works on linen in the show were hand dyed on-site in Marfa and left outside to fade in the sunlight, creating images that were masked out by minimal shapes in pictographic images from the ancient Chinese tangram game. The idea came to fruition when reading Judd’s 1994 essay Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular, namely near the end when he states:
“Color of course can be an image or a symbol, as is the peaceful blue and white, often combined with olive drab, but these are no longer present in the best art. By definition, images and symbols are made by institutions. A pair of colors that I knew of as a child in Nebraska was red and black, which a book said was the “favorite” of the Lakota. In the codices of the Maya, red and black signify wisdom and are the colors of scholars.”
I had already begun working with the tangram puzzles but not found the perfect situation for their form. I wanted to use the images on the fabric and then create tables with the game pieces in their resting assembled rectangular form. I was always interested in the divide between Judd’s furniture and artwork, how the designs were quite similar but separated by space and function. In this work the tables function first as productive tools for the artwork, and then secondarily as furniture. I also wanted to mix the media, using some industrial materials that would weather (copper and bronze), along with more static and classical material (marble). The quote above led me to take interest in the history of tangrams and source Chinese marble for the project, while also using the colors red and black in a site specific homage to Judd. The other works on linen are also durational and natural “photograms” which came about in Marfa after seeing the cattle fences everywhere, the grid appearing even out in the middle of the country. I wanted to work with something so familiar to rural Texas as well as the aesthetics of art history, an American theme ever-present in everyday life, its representation, and its abstraction.
February 20, 2015
Untitled, 2014; works in progress, artist’s studio, Los Angeles
A solo exhibition of recent work by Sam Falls opened last week at Fonazione Giuliani gallery in Rome, Italy. The show, on view until April 18th, combines natural elements, such as the moon and the tides, with time-based art practices, highlighting our relationship to what Falls describes as the “gravitational pull of life.”
He presents a series of ‘Moon artworks’ created by dripping wax onto images of the moon in different phases to create prints illustrating its cycle and the residue of the candles he used in the full time they took to burn. He also exhibits new ‘Helium pieces,’ which display helium in two different physical states; one as seen through electric light and another in balloon form. In his statement he describes the helium works and their relationship to the larger conceptual threads throughout the show:
“Most excitingly, the electricity lets us see the color of helium and the balloon gives it form, it is truly representational and quite abstract – I don’t know which one tips the scale and this back and forth gives the work its gravity. The forms of the glass are line tracings of the sides of my family and friends, myself, my dogs. The works show the microcosm of aging; buoyed up in the beginning, full of energy and life, dropping down to a perfect state with time, then eventually resting on the ground, deflated. What has been continues to burn and the balloons serve as a memory of what was.”
Read more at Fondazione Giuliani. A solo exhibition by Falls will open here at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, 2015.
February 17, 2015
Restoration is underway at Prada Marfa, as Deputy Director Katherine Shaugnessy reports back with these photos from outside of Valentine. The work on Elmgreen and Dragset’s installation will continue over the next few weeks as we replace the awnings and glass that were damaged in the 2014 site vandalism.
For more information on Prada Marfa — including an official clarification of our policy regarding its maintenance — take a look at our Prada Marfa Explainer.
We wrap up our Marfa Myths guide with insider Marfa tips (see previous installments here, here, here, and here). Be sure to check out the Wrong store’s recommendations, too, which are excellent.
Mimms Ranch. Courtesy of the Dixon Water Foundation.
Laura Copelin, associate curator
Take a walk on Mimms Ranch.
Ballroom super pal Sean Daly enjoying coffee at Do Your Thing. Photo courtesy of Do Your Thing.
Susan Sutton, executive director
Get a coffee at Do Your Thing and make friends with Bear, one of the coolest dogs in town.
Photo of Stripes by marcus tillaeus, via Flickr.
Liz Janoff, intern
Ironheart Gym: Hammer Strong. Photo courtesy of Ironheart.
Daniel Chamberlin, communications director
Practice good physical fitness at Ironheart Gym, our world-class workout center housed in Marfa’s former Masonic Lodge. And listen to Inter-Dimensional Music on Marfa Public Radio!
The Overlook at Mimms Ranch
Nicki Ittner, music director
1. Wander around Donald Judd’s untitled 15 works in concrete at Chinati. Free, and beautiful. Check in with the front desk before visiting.
2. Visit Mimms Ranch. If you have the time and energy to do a five-mile run or walk (round-trip), head out to the Overlook, designed and built by Joey Benton.
3. Drive down Pinto Canyon Road/2810 at night.
4. Get a Żubrówka buffalo grass vodka martini at Cochineal (it tastes like cookie dough?!).
5. Just (literally, two hours ago) learned that there’s a walking labyrinth at Building 98.
New Star Grocery by Charlie Villyard, via Flickr.
Ross Cashiola, artist/contributor to Marfa Myths zine
Go to Linneaus Lorette’s new museum, the New Star Grocery Art Museum (301 West Dallas).
Marfa Burrito by Spencer Brown, via Flickr.
Susannah Lipsey, owner of Freda/Host of the Marfa Myths Pop-Up
1. Drive down Pinto Canyon Road
2. Have a beer at Planet Marfa
3. Go to Moonlight Gemstones
4. Eat a Marfa burrito
5. Have a Mexican martini at Maiya’s
Ballroom Marfa. Courtesy of Jen Siska.
And of course, no visit to Marfa is complete without a stop by Ballroom Marfa. We’ll have our spring exhibition up — a solo show by Sam Falls — so please swing by. And for general info about Marfa, you can download our visitor guide — which has more details about eating, tours, and shopping — or visit visitmarfa.com and marfalist.org, where you can find housing suggestions, ride shares, and more.
Buy tickets to the Marfa Myths here. Residents of Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties may purchase tickets at a discount in-person at Freda and the Ballroom Marfa gallery.
February 16, 2015
Sam Falls: Light Over Time from Public Art Fund on Vimeo.
Artist Sam Falls is known for experimenting with the effects of rainwater and sunlight on different materials throughout his process. He’s left canvases out in the rain, layered UV-protected pigments on metallic surfaces, and placed hand-dyed fabrics in naturally sunlit environments, such as an isolated hillside in Joshua Tree, California, for several months. A solo exhibition of Falls work will open at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, 2015.
In Light Over Time, presented by the Public Art Fund, a series of Falls’ public art sculptures exhibited in Downtown Brooklyn’s Metro Tech courtyard are completed by natural elements; they fade or change color with sunlight, and can be altered by the weather or interactions with passersby.
In Untitled (Thermochromic bench), a blue and purple bench made of glass responds to body heat, leaving colored imprints where visitors sit or children climb. Another sculpture, Untitled (Wind chimes), rings from strong gusts of wind or when its chimes are pushed back and forth. In Untitled (Scales), seesaw-like sculptures change position as the geometric forms on either end collect varying amounts of rainwater.
Two other works, Untitled (Light rooms) and Untitled (Maze), require viewers to walk inside or through them for the full experience, as their colors shift in relation to natural light. In Untitled (Maze), in particular, coated aluminum panels have been selectively painted with protective UV paint so that parts of the sculpture will fade from sun exposure, revealing new layers of color beneath.
The Maze and title of the exhibition also reference a previous work by Sam Falls: a Light Over Time screen-printed accordion book from 2012. Encased in a light-sensitive, aluminum sculpture which looks like a miniature version of the forms in Untitled (Maze), the book was intended to be placed on a windowsill or sunlit table. As Falls writes, “Together the book and the sculpture show light over time, one by hand and one by the sun”––a concept further realized in the interactive and duration-based features of this year’s large-scale Light Over Time installation.
Sam Falls: Light Over Time will be on view in the Metro Tech courtyard through May 29, 2015. The artist’s self-titled solo exhibition opens here at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, and will be on view through August 16, 2015. Visit our event page for more information.
February 13, 2015
Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting the Marfa Myths Festival over March 13-15, 2015, and we hope you’re coming out for it. If you are, our Marfa guide can help. Check out parts one, two, three, and read on for tips on eating in our fair town.
HOURS HERE CAN BE WEIRD
Remember: Marfa is a town of 1900-ish people. It’s not a big city that offers all-hours convenience. Restaurants have odd hours, or can be closed unexpectedly. When it comes to eating, just keep an open mind, be patient, adjust your expectations and take comfort that Stripes is open 24-7. As our communications director Daniel Chamberlin admitted the other day after finding closed doors at every lunch spot on a Tuesday, “Even after five years I don’t remember when things are open sometimes.”
Boyz 2 Men. Photo by Cody Kern, via Flickr.
WHERE SHOULD GO I FOR BREAKFAST?
Boyz 2 Men
220 W San Antonio Street (behind Padre’s) | Saturday & Sunday, 8am–3pm
Breakfast tacos, great for vegans, lot of sass behind the (Airstream) counter. Cash (pesos o dólares) only.
Buns ‘n’ Roses
1613 W San Antonio St | Thursday-Sunday, 7am-2:30pm
Low-key and reliable breakfast + lunch + donuts + flowers.
107 W San Antonio St | Sunday only, 9am-1pm
Do Your Thing
213 S Dean St (in community room) | Friday-Monday, 8:30am-1pm, 3pm-6pm
Delicious espresso drinks and toast, plus porridge on the weekends.
120 N. Austin St | 7 days a week, 7:30am-8pm
Big Bend coffee, smoothies and scones (if you get there early enough; weekdays only).
1506 W San Antonio St | Monday-Saturday, 6am-2pm (Closed Sunday)
Traditional breakfast, plus Mexican and American comfort food.
905 W. San Antonio St | Thursday, Friday, Sunday & Monday 8:30am-2:30pm (we think)
Mexican breakfast plates + burgers.
Route 67, on the way to Chinati | Monday-Saturday, 7am-2pm-ish
Delicious breakfast burritos. Cash only.
215 N Highland Ave | Tuesday-Sunday, 8am-3pm
European-style breakfast with muesli, yogurt, toast & jam and paninis for lunch.
Enchiladas at Mando’s. Courtesy of Fat Lyle’s Instagram.
NOW WHAT ABOUT LUNCH?
All of the above, plus…
120 N Highland Avenue | Monday-Friday, 11:30am-4pm
Hearty lunches, innovative sides and delicious desserts.
Airstreamland (220 W San Antonio Street) | Wednesday–Saturday, 12pm–3pm
The original Mediterranean-by-way-of-West-Texas food truck. Cash only.
603 W. San Antonio | Wednesday–Monday, 11am–3pm
Gourmet sandwiches, salads, fried chicken, homemade ice cream, the best biscuits. On Sunday and Monday: Marfa’s only Asian cuisine. Cash only.
Fried chicken, sesame cabbage slaw, two dick billy goat hot sauce and a buttermilk biscuit at the Thunderbird Restaurant/Capri Kitchen. Courtesy of Fat Lyle’s Instagram.
AND FINALLY DINNER?
107 W San Antonio St | 7 days a week, 5:30-10pm
Inventive American cooking. Reservations.
Grilled Cheese Parlour
300 W San Antonio | Friday, 9:30pm-midnight + Saturday, 9:30pm-1:30am
Late-night grilled cheese.
Jett’s Grill at the Hotel Paisano
7 days a week, 5:30pm-9pm, open until 10pm on Friday and Saturday
Classic Southwestern + American fare. Reservations.
103 N Highland St | Wednesday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm
Modern Italian. Reservations.
209 West El Paso | Wednesday-Friday, 5pm–10pm; Saturday, 2pm–10pm; Sunday, 3pm-10pm
Burgers, tuna melts, & fries (plus Italian Tuesdays).
200 S Abbot St | Thursday-Sunday, 2pm–10pm (re-opening on March 12!)
Not exactly a dinner place, but awesome nachos + good vibes.
Beyoncé at the Grilled Cheese Parlour. Photo via Food Shark, originally from Beyoncé’s tumblr (!).
YO IT’S FRIDAY AND 5PM AND I WANT A BEER AND A SNACK
A few choices: Planet Marfa, Mando’s, Maiya’s and Padre’s. (Jett’s and Cochineal open at 5:30pm.)
YO IT’S MONDAY AND 5PM AND I WANT A BEER AND A SNACK
IT’S 10:30PM AND I’M HUNGRY / DO ANY ESTABLISHMENTS SERVE FOOD AFTER 10PM?
If it’s Friday or Saturday, you’re in luck: head to Grilled Cheese Parlour. Otherwise, all the kitchens are closed, except Stripes (the east location, near the flashing stoplight).
IT’S SUNDAY NIGHT, WHERE DO I EAT DINNER?
Cochineal, Jett’s or Dairy Queen. Or a light dinner of nachos at Planet Marfa.
DO I REALLY HAVE TO MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR DINNER?
We recommend it. It’s Spring Break, and the town is going to be bonkers. Cochineal, Jett’s and Maiya’s all accept dinner reservations.
IT’S SUNDAY AT 2:30PM, WHERE THE HECK CAN I GET LUNCH?
Planet Marfa (nacho time), Squeeze Marfa (but hurry, they close at 3), and maybe (maybe?) Boyz 2 Men. And there’s always Dairy Queen and Subway (inside Stripes West!).
IT’S MONDAY AT 2:30PM, WHERE THE HECK CAN I GET LUNCH?
Thunderbird Restaurant and Comida Futura are your best bets. (Comida may be low on food, but you can always get a peasant bowl.) Marfa Burrito may still be open, but it’s a longshot. Plus our old friends Dairy Queen and Subway.
WHAT’S OPEN EVERY DAY?
Frama, Cochineal, Jett’s, Dairy Queen and Subway!
Jett’s insane pistachio fried steak. Photo by Andrea B, via Flickr.
Check back next week for our final installment, where we reveal insider tips (!!!!). Again, for general info, check out visitmarfa.com and marfalist.org, where you can find event listings, housing suggestions, ride shares, and more.
February 10, 2015
Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting the Marfa Myths festival over March 13-15, 2015, and we hope you’re coming out for it. If you are, our Marfa guide can help. Check out parts one and two, and read on for tips on what to do during your visit.
Obviously there are loads of things to do in Marfa (chilling, appreciating the landscape, shopping, eating, gallery cruising), which can fill your time most agreeably. But if you’re the more ambitious sort, here are a few around-town or near-town journeys:
Larry Bell, 6 x 6 An Improvisation. Photo by Alex Marks.
We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Chinati Foundation, the contemporary art museum based upon the ideas of its founder, artist Donald Judd. If you have any interest in contemporary art, or Minimalism, you really shouldn’t miss it. They offer various tours, but if you take the full collection tour, you can see a temporary exhibition by artist Larry Bell, which focuses on Bell’s large freestanding glass sculptures, which are quite something (see photo above).
Judd Foundation holds and maintains artist Donald Judd’s private living and working spaces in Marfa, Texas. Comprised of a total of 15 spaces, these properties include studios installed with artwork by Judd and others, living quarters, ranch and architecture offices, and libraries, many of which are available to tour. The more time we spend at the Judd Foundation, the more we admire Donald Judd and the scope of his work.
The night skies in our area are some of the darkest in the United States, making for excellent star gazing. Head to the world-renowned McDonald Observatory for a Star Party (hosted every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights), and enjoy a tour of the constellations and view the moon, planets, stars and galaxies through telescopes. We waited four years to go to a Star Party and felt the serious fool afterwards. Just the sheer number of stars will blow you away. (Though if it’s cloudy, or rainy, save it for another time.)
What are the Marfa Lights? Have we seen them? Is it worth it? WHO KNOWS? To do your own investigating, wait till dark, then drive out to the Marfa Lights Viewing Station (nine miles east of Marfa on Hwy 90 — be on the lookout for the sign directing you to the observing area), or, if you’re feeling adventurous, drive down Pinto Canyon Road/2810, pull over, and look east, south, and southeast. Mysticism abounds.
The legendary Boyd Elder at Prada Marfa. Photo by Lizette Kabré.
Maybe you’ve heard of Prada Marfa? Or seen the sign on Gossip Girl? The permanent land art project by artists Elmgreen & Dragset was produced in 2005 by Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund and has seen no end to visitors, scandal, and graffiti. The installation is about 40 miles from Marfa, right outside of Valentine, on the south side of highway. Blink and you’ll miss it. Best viewed at sunset or in the early morning stillness, when its out-of-placeness feels the most extreme.
Scenic Loop Drive
Just want to take a leisurely car ramble? Head up to Fort Davis, the starting point for one of the most scenic drives in Texas. Seventy-five miles long, the drive leaves Fort Davis, proceeds up Limpia Canyon, past the McDonald Observatory, then into Madera Canyon and a quiet, pine-shaded picnic area (you can pick up picnic fare at Stone Village Market in Fort Davis, or load up on french fries and chocolate malts pre-drive at the Fort Davis Drugstore).
If you really want to really explore the area, or love to hike, or have time to burn, check out these longer excursions:
Balmorhea State Park. Photo courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife.
Balmorhea State Park
Dive into the cool waters of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, which covers 1.75 acres and stays at 72–76 degrees year round. The pool is open daily, 8am to 8pm. The park is about 1.5 hours from Marfa, and some Marfans go there every chance they get. Muy relaxation.
Big Bend National Park
Let’s get real: Big Bend National Park is incredible. If you have enough time, make the journey (overnight is ideal; if you go one day, you’ll wish you’d gone two). Trails are relatively well documented in the various guide books available, and in the park literature. A few popular favorites:
- Lost Mine Trail: Lovely day hike in the high country of the Chisos Mountains. Scrub, some forest, big views.
- Window Trail: Easy afternoon walk across the Chisos Basin to a rock window formation looking over the desert lowlands.
- South Rim Trail/Boot Spring: Lots of high country trails, easily customizable from day hikes to Boot Spring to an overnight backpack (or STRENUOUS day hike) to the South Rim and the most amazing views available in Texas. Though most parts of this trail are closed until the end of peregrine falcon nesting season in May
- Hot Springs Trail: Chill 1 mile walk to Rio Grande-adjacent springs.
- Santa Elena Canyon: Another easy hike into one of the grandest canyons of Far West Texas.
- Boquillas: If you have your passport, a mellow trip across the border into the tiny Mexican town of Boquillas for tacos, sand dunes and frosty post-hike brews.
Also of interest: Terlingua is the weird and wonderful town just outside the park boundary. A world unto its own, full of rebels and off-the-gridders. (Our own Daniel Chamberlin wrote an excellent profile of Terlingua and its inhabitants a few years back for Arthur Magazine.)
The River Road from Terlingua to Presidio. (Note: This is just a lousy picture taken by us, with our IPHONE — that’s how beautiful it is!)
Big Bend Ranch State Park
A bit more obscure than Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park is a bit closer and offers more lowland delights. Plus, the ride along the River Road from Terlingua to Presidio is well worth it. Closed Canyon is on the road, too, another easy one hour (more or less) hike down a lovely slot canyon.
Chinati Hot Springs
An oasis nestled in the Chinati Mountains of West Texas, Chinati Hot Springs has provided healing waters to the people of the area for thousands of years. From Marfa, the journey is about 2.5 hours. We recommend a high-clearance vehicle to get there. Hippie attitude also a plus.
Chinati Hot Springs. Photo by Alberto Tomas Halpern, courtesy of Texas Co-Op Power.
Check back later this week for our penultimate installment, where we discuss all the eating options in Marfa. Again, for general info, check out visitmarfa.com and marfalist.org, where you can find event listings, housing suggestions, ride shares, and more.
February 5, 2015
(Marfa, Texas) – Ballroom Marfa’s board of directors is pleased to announce that Laura Copelin will be joining the staff as associate curator. Copelin comes to Ballroom after four years at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and brings with her a wealth of experience from the ambitious Southern California kunsthalle.
“Laura’s experience across the spectrum of arts organizations – from upstart DIY spaces to respected institutions such as SMMoA – make her an ideal candidate for the associate curator position,” says Ballroom Marfa Executive Director Susan Sutton. “Ballroom Marfa’s diverse programming calendar and unique geographic location require a rare combination of independent spirit and rigorous institutional effectiveness.”
“What excites me most about Ballroom Marfa is the ambition of the artist-driven projects and commissioned installations,” says Copelin. “These opportunities allow artists to immerse themselves in a radically different environment and offer something new to the natural and cultural landscape.”
“It will be interesting to see how my experiences in Los Angeles’ rich creative communities translate to this new setting,” says Copelin. “Highlights from my time at SMMoA are working with Museum’s visionary Executive Director Elsa Longhauser, as well as noted curators Jeffrey Uslip and Lucía Sanromán, on projects with luminaries like Yutaka Sone, Simone Forti, Agnes Denes, Joyce Pensato, Michael Queenland, Suzanne Lacy, and Tania Bruguera as well as brilliant emerging artists like Andrew Cannon, Dwyer Kilcollin, Michael Manning, Keltie Ferris, and Samira Yamin.”
In addition to her work developing exhibitions and programs for SMMoA, Copelin organized a number of interdisciplinary events in Los Angeles, bringing together the worlds of visual art, music, and ecological activism. Copelin has developed projects for Machine Project and the Los Angeles Seminary for Embodied and Civic Arts; contributed to the seminal art and music journal Arthur as well as emerging Los Angeles publication VIA; and operated artist micro-residency Housework in Venice Beach.
Copelin holds a B.A. in English and Art, Magna Cum Laude with Honors, from UCLA and was a part of Mountain School for Arts and Summer Forum for Inquiry and Exchange.
Press contact: Prentice Art Communications
As you may have heard, Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting the Marfa Myths festival over March 13-15, 2015. If you’re coming out, use our Marfa guide to help navigate your journey. See part one here, and read on for tips on where to stay.
Marfa. Photo by Justina Villanueva.
Marfa has four hotels:
West Texas gem. Restored hotel with original architectural details, plus an outdoor pool and a restaurant. The cast of Giant — Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson—stayed here during filming. Rooms start at $99.
1950s motel converted into minimalist-chic retreat with modern art-laden rooms, a pool & fire pits. Bicycles also available to rent. Rooms start at $180.
El Cosmico is an 18-acre trailer, tent and teepee hotel and campground. Bicycles and wood-fired hot tubs are available to rent. A hammock grove and an outdoor kitchen with a fridge, sink and barbecue grills add to the bohemian vibe. Camping is risky business in March in West Texas, but you never know, the weather may cooperate. Rates start at $95 for a safari tent (which have beds with heated mattress pads and are pretty swank).
Roadside motel with big rooms and a cold pool. Cheapest option in town. Note: You probably need a car to stay here, unless you’re a good walker, or plan on renting a bike from Bizarro Bikes.
RENTAL HOMES ON VRBO AND AIRBNB
There are many great houses and rooms available for rent in the area — check out all the options on VRBO and airbnb. We recommend booking as soon as you have your travel plans in place.
WHAT IF I CAN’T FIND A PLACE TO STAY IN MARFA?
If you can’t find anything in Marfa, never fear! Try Fort Davis (21 miles away) and Alpine (27 miles away). Though a bit of a trek, both are pretty manageable. Plus Alpine is a university town, so there are lots of budget motel options — not to mention Alicia’s and Big Bend Saddlery. Fort Davis has the historic Indian Lodge, which was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a great thrift store.
Mimms Ranch, Marfa. Photo by Jennifer Boomer.
JUST A NOTE ABOUT PUBLIC DRINKING
Although Marfa can feel carefree, please remember that you may not drink in public after public drinking hours. As hosts of 2011′s Railroad Revival Tour pointed out, “According to the Sheriff’s Department, public drinking hours end at 12:15 am Friday night, 1:15 am Saturday night, and at 12:15 am Sunday night. Absolutely no drinking can occur in public after these hours. This will be enforced.” Fair warning.
CAUTION: SMOKING IN THE DESERT
A few years ago, West Texas suffered from terrible wildfires that ravaged the area and destroyed homes, livestock, and land. Many of these fires can be traced to human carelessness. While we are not currently in a burn ban, it is best to follow these simple rules:
• NO open fires. No exceptions.
• Do not park or drive over dry grass.
• Use extreme caution with anything that produces a spark, including ashes or cigarettes.
• If you do not have an ashtray, do not smoke. Do not dispose of cigarettes out of car windows or on the ground, anywhere. Instead, extinguish the cigarette and keep the butt in your pocket or pack until it can be disposed in a waste bin or ashcan.
Marfa. Photo by Aurora Tang.
Check back later this week for our next installment, where we discuss things to do in the area (#1: take photos of the sky). For general info about Marfa, check out visitmarfa.com and marfalist.org, where you can find other housing suggestions, ride shares, and more.
Special thanks to Railroad Revival’s visitor guide from 2011 for some of these tips.
January 30, 2015
As you may have heard, Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting Marfa Myths over March 13-15. If you’re coming out, you may need some help navigating your journey to Marfa. Enter our visitor guide (in five parts).
FIRST, A WORD ABOUT MARFA
Marfa is a town of about 1900 people, and we are bringing in a slew of visitors for the festival (not to mention it’s Spring Break). The impact of our presence will be huge. Please remember to be respectful of the community — be kind to strangers, pick up after yourself, be patient, and understand that we are a community of hard-working people in a very small town. Adjust your expectations (we have no drugstore; shops and restaurants have funny hours), and see these quirks as part of the adventure.
MAKING THE VOYAGE
You can get to Marfa via car; plane; and kind of by train (the train will take you to Alpine, which is 25 miles away).
• If you’re coming from Austin, the drive is seven hours; from San Antonio, six hours. (Flying from either of these places doesn’t really make sense.) Houston is about 9-10 hours away — flying cuts down on that journey, but doesn’t give you quite the flexibility.
• The closest airports are El Paso and Midland, both about three hours away (directions from each here). If you fly into El Paso, rent a car, pick up a snack at Taco Cabana or Pho Tre Bien, and blast the radio (El Paso’s Fox Jukebox [Sundays, 12-8pm] is awesome; as you get closer to Marfa, tune in to Marfa Public Radio/KRTS 93.5). Driving after dark can be a bit grueling: if you can schedule it, roll into Marfa around sunset.
• There is a municipal airport in Marfa (three miles from Marfa) and one in Alpine (26 miles from Marfa), which can service most private jets. We think there’s a shuttle from the Marfa airport, but call to confirm.
Marfa Municipal Airport: (432) 729-4452
Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport: (432) 837-5929
• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, the time zone changes from Mountain Time Zone to Central Standard Time, and you lose one hour.
• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, you’ll pass Prada Marfa on Highway 90, about 35 miles from Marfa. It will be on your right, just before you enter the town of Valentine, Texas.
Map of Prada Marfa by Paul Fucik.
• Consider stocking up on snacks and water prior to arrival: there are only two groceries in town, plus a Dollar General. (You might also get cash, too — there are only two ATMs in town, and neither are chain banks.)
• We recommend booking your lodging prior to traveling. Hotels in Marfa will most likely be sold-out that weekend.
• If you are flying into El Paso, or driving from the West, you will pass through a Border Patrol Checkpoint on your way to Marfa. Be forewarned.
• We’re in the high desert, about a mile above sea level, and the altitude and dryness can be rough on newcomers. Stay hydrated.
• Cell phone reception can be spotty out here. Embrace it.
Sunset on the drive into Marfa
Check back next week for our next installment, where we discuss where to stay and if a safari tent at El Cosmico is all that (it IS, though possibly chilly in March).
Special thanks to Railroad Revival’s 2011 visitor guide for some of these suggestions.