Sunday, March 2, 2014

Serene Sunday . . . Marfa Style

Yesterday was a full day of adventures in the west Texas high desert country.  After a leisurely beginning to the day, attempting to get somewhat caught up on my blog reading (it’s hard when one gets behind!), I took Lacy for a short stroll within the Tumble In RV Park.  We met a few of our neighbors:  two couples from Austin who are tent camping and a solo-traveling lady who camps in, or under, her car.  She travels full time like that and appears to be a really free spirit.

I noted a few things that I’d like to see in Marfa and harbored the possibility of putting off my visit back to McDonald Observatory until today.

Marfa looked so deserted when I first drove into the main part of town.  It was close to noon but shops and businesses that indicated being open on Saturday certainly didn’t look “open” to me.  I drove around and took pictures of what generally appears to be just another tiny speck on the big map of Texas.  Hmmm, why all the hype?

Then I started to take a little closer look . . .

Tumble In is located on Texas 90 a half mile East of town.
Across the road and a little closer to town . . .
Faith Alive Cowboy Church

Marfa City Hall, Police Department (the last murder in Marfa was when they filmed "No Country For Old Men" just outside of downtown).  The one and only Marfa bank manager had been in a high school play in the 50s - so he qualified to play the part of the man who was murdered!  Also housed in City Hall is the Marfa, Texas Public Radio Station . . .

Marfa is the County Seat of Presidio County.  Here is the County Court House
At the very top is a depiction of Lady Justice
Marfa street scene

Oh, yes, Texas is definitely part of the Bible Belt.  There are so many churches of many denominations.  
Episcopal Church  above

In this part of the Country, here's the ever-present water tower

Art gallery from restored ballroom

 Outdoor Christmas decorations - for last and next Holiday Season

 Theater?  No.  Illustrator's workspace

Gas/Service station - now Pizza Foundation - not open at noon, but alive and crowded at Two.

Recommended restaurant for lunch
 This couple at the next table is visiting Marfa from Germany!
 Chicken Curry panini - not fancy, but good

Service station remake - Marfa Studio of Art 
Marfa USO building with trash can:  "This is not art - Don't Mess With Texas"

Marfa was a very large training area for all branches of our armed 
forces during WWII.  Our service men and women are well-remembered and thanked for their patriotism and fighting spirit.
 "Love Me" - Sculpture?  Or real?

Yup, the classic, "Giant" with James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and 
Rock Hudson was filmed in Marfa in 1955(?)

Marfa, population about 2,000, local businesses . . .

El Paisano Hotel - on National Register of Historic Buildings

El Paisano Courtyard

Gift shops off courtyard

Hotel lobby
Hotel hallway - hotel built in 1838.  Placed on National 
Register in 1978

Typical Marfa residences:

Why can't all house numbers be VISIBLE like this one?

Just outside of downtown Marfa is the Chinati Foundation - the overwhelming reason for the rebirth and popularity of Marfa as a destination - and as a minimalist art center - for the World.  The Chinati Foundation was founded by Donald Judd, a 'minimalist sculptor' from New York City, who moved from the Big Apple in 1977 to this West Texas location to bring art, architecture and nature together in order to form a coherent whole.
The Chinati Foundation opened in 1986 as a publicly funded, non-profit, independent museum to (originally) exhibit the works of Donald Judd, John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin.  However, it has grown from that beginning to include exhibits of many other artists from around the World.  Each artist's work is displayed in a separate building or outdoor area throughout the 340-acre property that was originally a part of Fort D. A. Russell - an active military training base in the 40s.

Lots of barracks-type buildings housing individual collections - all under the Texas big sky 

Outdoor sculptures - double click to enlarge - no two sculptures are the same

Acres and acres and lots of barracks of exhibitions

Shed #1 at right - color changes occur in moments, not hours or days

An outdoor array of cement sculptures displayed over about 5 acres

Below, one of two "sheds," housing 100 of Donald Judd's metal sculptures on permanent exhibition.  I paid $12 for a senior pass to these two buildings.  When I started through the first, I thought, "Nope, this minimalist art doesn't mean much to me."  The approximately 4x8 feet metal boxes all looked the same.  Not my brand of art.  However, as I passed around the 54 (or so) sculptures in Shed #1, I began to realize that each sculpture has its own distinct design.  By the time I'd walked around inspecting 4 or 5, I was mesmerized.  I came out of the two sheds, having seen 100 different adaptations of the same 4x8 metal box.  Over an hour had gone by in what seemed like ten minutes.  Aha!  The intention of minimalist art!

This is a definite MUST VISIT in my opinion.  In just this one visit I became a fan of this marriage of art, architecture and nature in a serene and soothing environment.  I'd equate this to a "walking meditation" in the Zen tradition.

Then, after several hours and sore feet and right knee, I returned to Tumble In to my ever-present welcoming committee of one . . .

I was ready for a cool drink and an off-the-feet period of relaxation.  What happened next?  To be continued . . .


  1. Wow, the tine town has plenty to offer! A great story!

    1. This is what's amazing when traveling on the ground instead of flying over most of the Continent. I'm so enjoying the vast quantities of new cultures, new terrain and new adventures. I love hearing from you, Peter.

  2. I know what you are saying about making the climb to MacDonald Observatory. It can be daunting but the road is good, the traffic is light, and you saw how eye-popping the scenery is. When you get up there, there is plenty of parking at the Visitors' Center. Once again, though I can't recommend returning for a Star Party enough. It's an experience you'll never forget.

    1. Hi Kim:
      I'm sorry I'm so behind on my blog reading because I love your posts and photos so much. I'm curious . . . how many hours a week do you "work" while RVing around the Country?
      As for the McDonald Observatory and more Marfa, tune in a little later!!!!!

  3. Hi Mary-Pat, you must be feeling all better by now. I'm glad that you enjoy visiting this place. How nice that it wasn't crowded in the down town. Lovely buildings.
    I'm not used to such open places and I would feel out of my element out there. I love nature parks and beaches and quaint places and farm country side though.


  4. Yes, this country is very different for lots of us. Fun to visit and learn new things. I am feeling well except for the blasted hacking cough that seems to attack just about the time I've found somebody interesting to talk with! I've heard all kinds of horror stories about how long it may last! I've probably had flu attacks like this one; I just always pushed my way through - not taking time off from work and never missing a party or other weekend event. I've turned into sort of a wuss! But, I think it's healthier in the long run.