Marfa Dialogues


So You’re Coming to Marfa Myths: How to Get Here (Part One in a Series)

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).

Lineup by Rob Carmichael

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.

Marfa, Texas

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.

Prada Marfa map by Paul Fucik
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.

Out the driver side window
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.

Marfa Myths Staff Picks

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.34.10 PM

In preparation for our 2015 Marfa Myths festival, Mexican Summer’s staff selected their favorite tracks from the artists involved with the art, film, and music festival happening in Marfa this March 13-15. The Spotify playlist includes one song from each artist, beginning with “The Lord’s Favorite” by the young Danish punk band Iceage from their third studio album Plowing Into the Field of Love. On guitar and vocals Rønnenfelt sings out, “After all, I think it’s evident that I am God’s favorite one.”

The playlist then veers towards a melancholy, echoing piano track titled, “Clearing,” by Liz Harris of Grouper. Her recent album Ruins she wrote and recorded almost entirely on a 2011 residency in Aljezur, Portugal. Harris writes in an artist statement on the album, “Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came; I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.”

You’ll also find songs by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Connon Mockasin who are scheduled to do a recording residency in Marfa as part of this year’s festival. Spirited by their upcoming collaboration that will culminate in a limited-edition 12-inch record, their tracks “It’s Choade My Dear,” and “Time Will Tell” are listed side by side.

Finally, the playlist ends with two drone tracks reminiscent of water: a song from Bitchin’ Bajas’ album Water Wrackets and the dreamy, noise-filled “River Like a Spine” by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma on his album Love is a Stream.

Mexican Summer & Ballroom Marfa Present Marfa Myths

Lineup by Rob Carmichael

MARCH 13-15, 2015
Featuring Grouper, Iceage, Blood Orange, Connan Mockasin, Tamaryn, Steve Gunn, Weyes Blood, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Suicideyear and more

Buy tickets here!

Residents of Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties may purchase tickets at a discount in-person at Freda and the Ballroom Marfa gallery.

Marfa Myths is a cultural program taking place March 13-15, 2015 in Marfa, Texas. Curated by New York based music label Mexican Summer and co-presented with Ballroom Marfa, it features artists from within and outside of the Mexican Summer and Software Recording Co. rosters working creatively and collaboratively across music, cinema and visual arts contexts.

2015 programming includes a recording residency with Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin, a sound bath created by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, a semi-permanent outdoor mural by Liz Harris (Grouper), a presentation of Gregg Kowalsky’s live installation Tape Chants, and a screening of short documentaries and Holy Cow Swami at Crowley Theater presented by CineMarfa and Anthology Recordings. Furthermore, live programming throughout the weekend will include sets from Iceage, Grouper, Tamaryn, Steve Gunn, Weyes Blood, GABI, Thug Entrancer, Co La, Bitchin Bajas, LBS. and Suicideyear.

Additionally, there will be an exclusive, limited edition 12-inch record documenting the Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin collaboration alongside a journal featuring contributions from local Marfa artists and participating festival artists.

A central objective of the festival is to engage with the Marfa community and its esteemed cultural institutions. Marfa is an artist enclave tucked into the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in Far West Texas, and has become a destination for contemporary art, due in part to the work of Donald Judd and the Chinati Foundation. Founded in 2003, Ballroom Marfa has established itself as a hub for artists working in music, performance, film and visual arts. Past projects include Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa; Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, and Alexandre Singh’s Hello Meth Lab in the Sun; Rashid Johnson’s Shea Butter Irrigation System, and Agnes Denes’ Pyramids of Conscience. Ballroom Marfa has also hosted performances from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Julianna Barwick, Tinariwen, and Sonic Youth, among many others. The festival will coincide with the opening of a solo exhibition from Sam Falls at Ballroom Marfa, featuring new sound, video, sculptural, and wall works by the Los Angeles-based artist.

The festival follows the inaugural happening in Marfa in March 2014, which featured Mexican Summer roster artists Connan Mockasin, No Joy, Arp and Weyes Blood. With an expanded program for 2015, Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa seek to establish this festival as an annual event in Marfa.

Tickets are available at,, Freda (207 S. Highland Avenue, Marfa) and in person day of show(s).

Ticketing Info:
Friday & Sunday: free
Saturday: $15 day pass
Festival bundle ($40): Saturday day pass, limited edition 12″ of Dev Hynes & Connan Mockasin, tote bag and journal featuring participating artists and local Marfa-based artists

Friday, March 13 – Ballroom Marfa (108 E. San Antonio Street)
Sam Falls solo exhibition: Opening Night
Software Recording Co. presents: GABI, Thug Entrancer, Co La
Liz Harris’ (Grouper) painting will be available for viewing at 201 E. Dallas Street all weekend and beyond

Saturday, March 14
Sound Bath with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma @ The Well (119 W. Highland Avenue)
Tape Chants with Gregg Kowalsky @ Building 98 (705 W. Bonnie Street)
Mexican Summer presents: Iceage, Grouper, Tamaryn, Steve Gunn, Weyes Blood @ The Capri (603 W. San Antonio Street)
Late night: Bitchin Bajas’, Suicideyear, LBS. @ Foodsharkland (1411 W. San Antonio/Hwy 90)

Sunday, March 15
CineMarfa & Anthology Recordings present a specially selected film program and Holy Cow Swami @ Crowley Theater (98 S. Austin Street)

Schedule by Rob Carmichael

Weyes Blood in BOMB Magazine

Weyes Blood, Mexican Summer Festival, March 8, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.
Weyes Blood at the Ballroom Marfa/Mexican Summer Festival in Marfa, Texas, March 8, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Tobias Carroll interviews Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, who played for us last year at our Mexican Summer Festival (and will return this year, more info coming soon). Natalie is touring the West Coast with one of our all-time faves, harpist Mary Lattimore, who rolled through Marfa last week on her way to meet Natalie in California. Tour dates here.

An excerpt about Natalie’s influences:

TC: Listening to the two albums, The Innocents has a little bit more of a folk feel to it, and you’ve mentioned that your parents are musicians. Did that have any influence on you or the sort of the music that you started to make?

NM: My dad taught me how to play some guitar chords when I was little and I always looked up to him because he was in a crazy band, and he always liked weird music. He really liked the band XTC. He was in a weird New Wave band with an electric viola player, so I was always attracted to the weirder aspects of the music world. My older brothers were into Ween, and XTC and Ween are pretty weird bands, and my mom was obsessed with Joni Mitchell. I grew up hearing a lot of Joni, but I didn’t really get it as a kid. I thought it was cool, and I liked some of her songs for sure, but I didn’t try to emulate her at any point. Now I kind of feel like I’m ready to do that. She’s kind of a beast. In some ways I feel like she kicked so much ass it’s really intimidating to try to emulate her as well.

Read the whole interview at BOMB

Ballroom’s Susan Sutton in Vogue!

holding-ballroom-marfa-susan-sutton Photo: Zina Saro-Wiwa

Mark Guiducci interviews Ballroom Marfa Executive Director Susan Sutton on …

Sutton brings an institutional background and scholarly disposition to Ballroom, which has largely thrived on the unwavering passion of its supporters, including board members Matthew Day Jackson, Allison Sarofim, and Leo Villareal. “There’s been incredible experimentation at Ballroom,” Sutton says. “It’s a really ripe moment to take pause and review and ask what we’ve done, what have been our highlights, how does that best express Ballroom, and how can we capitalize on that going forward?”

Keep reading in Vogue!

Holiday Hours

winter marfa Snowy Marfa, December 2012. Courtesy of Food Shark.

The Ballroom Marfa gallery will be closed from December 22-January 7. For holiday shopping, any items ordered after December 19th will not ship until after January 4th. For any questions, please email, and we will respond upon our return. Have a merry holiday, and see you next year!

Sam Falls and Los Angeles: City of Art

LIGHT MOVES | Artist Sam Falls with his dog, Penelope, in the north end of his Glendale, Calif., studio. Photography by Jesse Chehak for WSJ. Magazine.

Artist Sam Falls contributes to a conversation with the Wall Street Journal about L.A.’s steadily growing art scene and the Southland’s laid-back vibes. A solo exhibition from Falls will open at Ballroom Marfa this coming March.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“The pace here is more organic,” says Sam Falls as he walks through his current exhibition at the gallery. His pieces—large negative silhouettes created in part by leaving foliage (ferns, palm fronds) on raw canvas out in the rain—are big, ambitious and all about process. He works on some of the larger-scale projects from several spaces, including a converted knitting factory in Glendale and a parking lot near Pomona. “You can get to the next level of your work in a more fluid way here,” says Falls. “Art needs to be incubative…[People] move to New York to become artists with a capital A. Not here,” says Sam Falls. Sure, there is an art market, and there are openings and power players, but there is a welcoming, communal vibe to it all. “I see making my art as almost a blue-collar job. There’s a simplicity to being an artist here.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Irene Agnes O’Leary at the Lumberyard this Saturday


Ballroom Marfa intern Irene Agnes O’Leary will have work on view this weekend here in Marfa! Irene Agnes O’Leary Drawings: Social Spaces opens this Saturday, December 20 at 7pm at The Lumberyard, 213 S Dean St (across from the Get Go).

From the artist’s statement:  

By using the traditional medium of drawing and photographic sources, these portraits address the nature of human encounters and the realm of perceived social space between spectator and subject. Characterized by layers of transparency, these drawings illustrate expressive gestures as bodily, pictorial forms of consciousness, and hierarchical relationships between line and form is further used to expose a dialectic between depth and flatness within a 2-dimensional space. Pulling from historical notions of beauty in the context of art and life, I frame my portraits around the human condition with an undercurrent of desire and empathy.

Irene Agnes O’Leary is a visual artist based in Texas. In 2010, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso where she focused on painting and drawing. Irene then pursued and earned her MFA in Multidisciplinary Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2013, where her paintings and drawings shifted to incorporate the realm of photography. Irene’s work focuses on portraiture as a medium to reflect on social constructions of gender, class, and self-identity formed by ideologies of visual culture. Find more on her website,

Rashid Johnson’s Studio Rituals and the Sounds of the Future

In 2009, Sarah Trigg, a visual artist, embarked on an investigation within the United States, interviewing more than 200 artists in their studios. She met with a wide range of practitioners — from painters to performance artists — of various locations, backgrounds, and career stages to create a behind-the-scenes survey of artmaking today. One of her subjects was Rashid Johnson, whose solo show New Growth was at Ballroom in 2013. An excerpt from their conversation:

Another act that has become part of the ritual of pouring the heated material [to create Johnson's sculptures] is listening to Eric Dolphy’s “Improvisations and Tukras,” from the album Other Aspects (also the title of one of Johnson’s past exhibitions). To get a sense of what Johnson experiences, I played the record while shooting. Despite much effort, Johnson has not found any other music resembling this song’s specific trancelike feel and syncopated rhythm — whether in jazz, traditional African music, or the rest of Dolphy’s work. It’s as if it had arrived from an otherworldly source. “For me,” said Johnson, “the sounds in that piece are the sounds of the future.”

Read more.

Panda Sex curated by Tom Morton at State of Concept

Natalia LL, Consumer Art, 1972- 1975, 16’01”. Courtesy of the artist and lokal_30 Gallery, Warsaw.

Future Ballroom Marfa curator, Tom Morton, recently curated a show entitled Panda Sex that runs from November 29 through January 2015 at State of Concept, a non-profit gallery based in Athens, Greece. Tom Morton will curate Ballroom’s Marfa’s Fall 2015 group exhibition, Äppärät.. Tom Morton is also a writer, and contributing editor of frieze magazine. His previous exhibitions include Mum & Dad Show (Cubitt Gallery London, 2007), How to Endure (1st Athens Biennial, 2007), British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet (Hayward Gallery London and touring, 2010-2011, co-curated with Lisa LeFeuvre) among many others.

An excerpt from State of Concept:

Twelve notes on ‘Panda Sex’:

1) ‘Panda Sex’ is not a group show that is ‘about’ this or that.

2) ‘Panda Sex’ is group show that is.

3) A thing that is has characteristics, ways of being.

4) ‘Panda Sex’ draws its characteristics from the species Alluropoda melanoleuca – the giant panda bear.

5) ‘Panda Sex’ is composed mostly of black and white works – including paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, performances, sounds and smells – with occasional passages of colour. (Panda bears, of course, are colorful in the hidden zones of their bodies: their tongues, their gums, their genitals).

6) ‘Panda Sex’ is composed mostly of works that pay little attention to sexuality. (Panda bears have a notoriously brief breeding season, as fleeting as three days per year, making the ongoing survival of this species a conservational miracle. The current planetary population of wild pandas is estimated at 1,600)

7) ‘Panda Sex’ has no headline theme, no explicit thesis, no apparent claim to make about the shape of art, or of the world. All that seems to connect the works it brings together are their black and white livery, a few flashes of colour, and flickers, here and there, of sexual desire. It is a show that practices extreme curatorial restraint. (Panda bears, although able to metabolize a wide range of meats and vegetation, prefer to subsist on a diet that is 99% bamboo. In her 2013 essay Radical Bears in the Forest Delicious, the nature writer Amy Leach posits that ‘Pandas have their own wisdom, unaccountable and unamendable, whose roots shoot down deeper than we can penetrate, and if they mind anyone at all it is someone more elusive than man’).

8) ‘Panda Sex’ is concerned with how, not what, an exhibition might mean. It takes it as axiomatic that the work of art will always exceed its exhibition context. This is perhaps best contemplated while chewing on a mouthful of bamboo.

See more here.