I’ve read so many articles about how hip Marfa is and how great the art is, so when I requested a little getaway for my birthday, my husband surprised me with an excursion here.
Bitter disappointment occurred when we rolled into town last night.
The articles you read about this town don’t really tell it like it is, so I’m going to attempt to do just that and let you make your own decisions as to whether or not this is worth the 6+ hour drive from Austin or not.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Imagine a dust bowl. Imagine a depressed and dilapidated ghost town. Now add 5 hip-looking establishments to the mix, and roll up the sidewalks at 9pm. That is Marfa.
Shell-shocked after arriving, we climbed back into the car we’d just spent the better part of a day in and decided to drive into the surrounding mountains. This turned out to be a supreme idea. Along the way we drove through Fort Davis, which is an incredibly picturesque (although tiny) town that called to mind Park City, UT in some ways. The restaurants and hotels along the Texas Mountain Trail looked very inviting and unpretentious, and the up-close-and-personal nature of the mountains surrounding the town made us wonder…
Why don’t travel writers overwhelmingly recommend that you stay in Ft. Davis and drive into Marfa instead of the other way around?
We continued to drive up farther along the Trail and ended up at McDonald Observatory just in time for one of their Star Parties, where they give you a “constellation tour” and allow you to look into three domed and several large telescopes at various stars and planets. Maybe we’re a couple of nerds, but Jeb and I got a real thrill out of this and we’re looking forward to going back tomorrow for a look at the sun through a specially-filtered telescope.
Started the day at The Brown Recluse, which was comfy-cozy but the ultra-slow service and fly overpopulation left a lot to be desired.
Hit a dozen or so galleries conveniently located nearly door-to-door along an L-shaped path connecting Highland and San Antonio. One standouts was The Ballroom, where we encountered an installation titled “Hello Meth Lab in the Sun,” an incredible, interactive piece illustrating some of the ways people try and fail to achieve happiness (drugs, mysticism, cultish religion, etc.). Can’t wait to upload the pictures I took of Jeb amidst the charred remains of the meth kitchen and the lab…you’ll have to wait for that because I forgot to pack the USB cord, unfortunately. Also thoroughly enjoyed Galleri Urbane, where I unknowingly admired the work of one of my favorite Etsy artists, Andrea Zuill (I’d never identified her Etsy prints by her name, only by her storefront). I’m not much of a fan of Donald Judd (cue the artworld ridicule) so we skipped the Chinati Foundation (which my brain reads as the Chianti Foundation)…which is ironic, considering that Donald Judd is the sole reason Marfa’s on the art world map in the first place. But hey, diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, right? Steel cubes just aren’t my thang.
We were fortunate to get the local hookup thanks to Anna at Galleri Urbane, who is on her seventh week of Marfa residency, having moved here from Sante Fe. She filled us in on Cochineal, a new restaurant in town locally known as “Tom & Toshi’s” (because in a town with one blinking red light, everyone knows everyone, right?) and recommended we make reservations for dinner. Superglad to have gotten that tip…it was such a great experience, but I’ll also have to fill you in on that later, as part of what I loved about it was the interior design and I’m heading back this afternoon to take a few pics so I can show as well as tell…
Between the amazing art that we saw today and the decadent meal at Cochineal, Marfa is truly growing on us. It’s been incredibly creatively inspiring…
Today’s my birthday (42, wow) and we are enjoying our vacation, so I may skip the Design Star dish tonight. I’ve DVR’d it back home, so if it’s a particularly good episode, I may post about it at a later date. Truthfully though, I’ve got a lot of work to tackle when I get home so I may just skip it and pick up on it again next week!
Happy birthday from Denver. Love the Davis mtns and the observatory. Was there some yrs ago on the way home from backpacking in Big Bend NP. Next time you're out that way head south to Big Bend (best in fall and spring when temps are nice), or north to check out the Guadalupe mtns (highest pt in TX) and Monahans sand dunes.Good times.