Saturday, October 20, 2018

Marfa, Texas, The Ever-So-Snotty Art Town

Marfa is an isolated town in southwest Texas.  It is on the artists wanna-go list big time as it is an example of minimalist art, which, as far as I can figure, is minimal in the extreme.  I'm thinking of one exhibit called (I believe) "Pink Cadillacs" - a row of old Cadillacs buried in the desert so that just the tail light fins are visible.  It would be worth seeing if they lit up at night.

How did we get to Marfa in the first place?  John Sandford's "Golden Prey" grand finale takes place in Marfa and I became intrigued by the descriptions of installations there and so I finished the book and tackled Marfa this morning.

It became useful in 1881 as a water stop for the Texas and New Orleans railroad.  It is said that Marfa was the name given it after a heroine in "Brothers Karamazov" by the wife of the town founder.  Later, during WW2 it became a pilot training center (there's a lot of air over Texas and a hella lot of desert to land on.)

The art part didn't take off (sorry, couldn't resist) until one Donald Judd, a minimalist artist from New York happened upon it by accident, spending several vacations in this barren place.  He bought (with help) the old training center as well as a pair of ranches as his residences.

Born in 1928, he died, age 66, in 1994 of non-Hodgkin's disease.  His legend lived on and as of 2010 the Marfa populations was 1,981.

Having read rather thoroughly about Marfa I have to say that other than the snob appeal of being able to say that you've been there, there is very little to attract.

First of all is simply getting there in the first place.  The closest point from which to drive is Midland airport 182 miles.  El Paso is 190 miles; Houston 597 miles or a seven hour ride.  Austin, 429; Dallas 521; San Antonio 404.

And what do you find when you finally get there?  Indifferent to Bad food, the good hotels are in Alpine some 22 miles from Marfa and the crowing insult:  many of the exhibits require reservations to see them and even if you have one, you are likely to be greeted by the news that it's closed.  "We're Open When We're Open" is actually on one of these exhibits.  All in all, I think you're better off eating a burned Hungry Man TV dinner with warm beer at home and going through the photos of the exhibits that Google is showing you.  Really the same if you think about it … inconvenience, food, no ice for supposedly iced drinks and surly store/gallery owners.  Who needs it?

No comments: