In the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, between the beautiful Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, lies the teeny, tiny town of Marfa. With a population of just under 2,000 people, Marfa is quite deceptive—this is one of the most interesting art hubs in Texas outside of Austin.
This town’s first claim to fame was the 1956 film Giant, starring James Dean. Since then, Marfa has been the site of two Oscar winners, There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men. Hollywood definitely has a fascination with the small Texas town. Even A-list celebrities like Robert Pattinson, Natalie Portman, and Queen Bey herself love this desert oasis.
At first glance, Marfa is not much to look at, especially during the day in the middle of summer. Mostly, you just want to get out of the sun—which is perfect in a place like Marfa. Locals keep to their galleries or businesses during the day, so it’s a good time to explore the galleries and coffee shops hidden along the main and side streets. Signs are not conspicuous in Marfa; visitors are supposed to hunt for these Easter eggs.
The art won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but then again that’s kind of the point. Experimentation leads to a wide variety of art in Marfa, so odds are there is something for everyone—you just have to find the right artist.
Part of the charm of Marfa is finding your favorite spot, but here are some good starting points to get your feet wet.
If Marfa is the middle of nowhere, then Prada Marfa is 26 miles northwest of nowhere. This permanent art installation is not a real Prada store, and is worth a look just for the experience.
If you are going to stay anywhere in Marfa, consider the Hotel Paisano, of Giant fame. Designed by Henry Trost, the Paisano is a bit of elegance in the middle of the desert.
Marfa Myths Festival
Taking place March 9 – 12 at various venues throughout Marfa, the Marfa Myths music festival ranges from jazz to experimental pop. This year’s lineup includes Roky Erickson Perfume Genius & Weyes Blood, Pharoah Sanders, Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, Cate Le Bon, and Zomes. Music is a big part of the Marfa scene, and it is best to do as the locals do and dive in.
Food Shark Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour
No really. It’s a mouthful (pun intended), but this is a prime example of the charm of Marfa. The “museum” is a little spot of nostalgia in a world where technology advances at a breakneck pace. The walls are lined with 1950s televisions flickering with Technicolor images, eight track stereo systems, and monitors showing dimly lit abstract art films. The grilled cheese is not your mother’s grilled cheese—this gourmet take on a classic comfort food hits the spot.
These mysterious lights appear just outside of town as glowing orbs that hover or sometimes streak across Mitchell Flat in the desert. The lights are unpredictable, appearing in various weather conditions, but not every night. The first report came from a rancher in 1883, who mistook the lights for Apache campfires. Whether it is an optical illusion or something more supernatural, they are worth a look.
Before you drive off in search of the desert sunset, make an appointment to get your fine art appraised. Contact Judy Asa for an appointment.