Marfa has drawn clued-in art and design enthusiasts since the early 70s, when Donald Judd, a renowned minimalist artist, moved there and created colossal works of art that presently bask under the West Texas sun. In the following decades, Marfa witnessed an influx of eclectic stores; art galleries, installations and institutions; and creative nomads seeking inspiration and a simpler life.
A few years ago, on a road trip from SF to Austin, I decided to take a detour through Marfa on a creative mission to check out Chinati, snap some photos of Prada Marfa and sleep in a tee-pee at El Cosmico. However, getting there wasn't easy - and I think that's part of it's allure. Whether you're driving from California or the nearest major airport (which is 200 miles away) it's a long, yet beautiful trek with rest stops few and far between.
Located 30 minutes from Marfa and just outside the town of Valentine on Highway 90, Prada Marfa is a permanent art installation sculpted by Berlin-based artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in partnership with Ballroom Marfa and APF. With it's white stucco and glass construction, the Prada store replica features 14 right-footed shoes and six handbags on display which were selected by Miuccia Prada herself. It is situated near a town with a population of 125 and a median household income of $46k (or sixteen Prada bags) - a paradox representing a culture characterized by consumerism.
While the original intention was for the installation to slowly decay into the desert landscape it once was, within a day of it's inauguration, the sculpture was vandalized and looted. It was quickly repaired and restocked only to be vandalized again less than a decade later in 2014.
Despite it's controversy, Prada Marfa has remained a popular pop culture landmark, widely visited and famously shot by photographers such as Gray Malin.
From the colorful, painted floors in eclectic boutiques (below left) to trash bins around town (below right), art - in some way, shape or form - is literally unavoidable in Marfa.
El Cosmico is a hotel slash campground that offers trailers, yurts, teepees and safari tents, as well as dirt to pitch your own tent on.
Sprawling with creative and nomadic souls, I found myself interacting with musicians, artists, writers and wanderers from all over. It's also home to major events, such as the Trans Pecos Music Festival and year round pop-ups and workshops.
Restaurants and cafés seem to have odd hours in Marfa but I did come across a few culinary gems. One was Food Shark, a food truck that serves what they call "Mediterranean-by-way-of-West-Texas" food (think tortillas with hummus, veggies, and yogurt/harissa sauces) Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 3. Rumor has it they're now operating out of a ranch style home, where you order at the kitchen window and can enjoy their delicious food in an old school bus or covered patio. Another favorite was Planet Marfa, an eccentric beer garden featuring a large outdoor patio, a teepee lounge and on occasion, live music. For a sleeker setting, check out Restaurant Cochineal for a creative take on American fare. In recent years, Hotel Saint George opened it's doors offering chic accommodations, a trendy restaurant (LaVenture) and seasonal poolside food + drink at Bar Nadar.