Marfa. Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Say it three times and it acquires a shrill, Brady Bunch-esque insistence: Marfa, Marfa, Marfa! Stories of a transcendent escape to here are heard everywhere, and are met with a supportive ear or a dismissive smirk, depending on the listener’s persuasion. The town is undeniably in the midst of a boom as its cultural star soars ever higher, thanks to the hard work of its artist-citizens. Their efforts offer serious reasons to visit, beyond the more important smorgasbord of celestial beauty or, below, the rolling high desert landscape itself.1 Take, for example, a possible schedule at this year’s CineMarfa festival: Where else could one screen an Agnès Varda film, participate in an afternoon video synthesis workshop, and, later, eat Thai food and watch a free Tortoise concert inside a former lumberyard? Only in Marfa, as they say.
When the town was featured on 60 Minutes in 2013, Morley Safer offered reductive descriptions of the town’s “artful coexistence” between “cowboys and culture,” but a clear evolution was present in this “capital of quirkiness,” obvious even in national television coverage. Though still thoroughly addressing the long shadow of Donald Judd’s life and work, the town supports new generations of working artists in addition to the more steadfast economies of Border Patrol exercises and ranch operations. A split between locals and artist types is an easy — and still mostly accurate — binary classification, but the truth acquires complexity as the factions mix and as artist types establish sincere roots in this remote outpost.
Marfa’s tourist economy has grown considerably in recent years, but it remains strapped for adequate lodging. According to a 2015 Big Bend Sentinel article by Sasha von Oldershausen, Marfa had at least 12,493 visitors but only 104 hotel rooms in four establishments (not counting the funkier, camp-like accommodations at El Cosmico, or the many vacation rentals). Meanwhile, Alpine, to the east, recorded only 4,461 visitors but sports over 600 hotel rooms. Weddings or large events in Marfa saturate the available lodgings, leaving the overflow visitors to spend their nights and dollars elsewhere. Due to the demand, there are many VRBO or Airbnb vacation rentals, a trend that increases housing costs for the town, putting further pressure on its lower-income residents.2 Visitors now arrive in about the same numbers to see art as they do to see the Big Bend region’s “beautiful country mountains,” as Donald Judd himself wrote to his mother via telegram in 1946 when he saw the region for the first time. Constant promotion through celebrity sightings and rave travel reviews shapes the town’s cultural image around a core practice of high desert bohemian relaxation — New York City prices in a Trans-Pecos environment. Throughout, cooler-than-thou insider zingers abound (make no mistake; this is one of them).3
Tourism is a double-edged exchange. Von Oldershausen wrote: “To those who reside in Marfa, the incessant tide of tourists has become an ever-present reality and, at times, the source of vague amusement. And yet, this is also the source of its survival.” The prose invites a comparison to water’s power in arid lands: A constant trickle with seasonal downpours supports life as we know it, but unnatural deluges alter the ecology of a place. Such is the context for Marfa’s recently opened Hotel Saint George.
West Texas wanderers have long required a place to hang their hats. The original Saint George was Marfa’s first hotel, a two-story brick structure that opened on the corner of Highland Avenue and El Paso Street in 1886, four years after the town was founded in 1882 as a water stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad. The hotel was, for a time, directly south of the rail depot, where trains collected agricultural products like wool (harvested from sheep) and mohair (harvested from Angora goats). The Saint George burned down in the 1920s, and a new single-story concrete structure with a basement was built in its place in 1929. Other buildings along Highland were single-story structures first, with second-story additions realized later. It appears that this was the plan for this second building, with its robust construction and weirdly located columns and beams, but no upper floor was built. Much later, it was subdivided into smaller areas that have hosted important tenants over the years: the Lannan Foundation; KRTS 93.5, Marfa’s public radio station; and the Marfa Book Company, which now occupies a prominent location in the new hotel’s lobby. The New York Times listed Marfa in its “52 Places to Go in 2016” feature, but, contrary to that blurb, the new Saint George is neither reopening nor renovating an old hotel — rather, the endeavor is a reimagining of an establishment that has lain extinct for 85 years.
The new Hotel Saint George is the work of its sole owner, Tim Crowley. Crowley first visited in the region in the early 1980s, and attended a Chinati Weekend when Donald Judd was still alive. He eventually moved to Marfa full time in 1996 and began buying property during the town’s post-Judd lull. Crowley worked, and occasionally still works, as a trial lawyer in Houston with his law firm Crowley Norman. Now also a philanthropist and entrepreneur, he has focused his attention on creating vibrant artistic initiatives and businesses in Marfa. The theater that bears his name was once an agricultural feed store that he renovated as a performing arts contribution to a town already rich in visual art. And, if you had visited the Food Shark truck in its previous location under a long steel canopy next to the railroad tracks, you sat on his property beneath his Farmstand structure. Marfa is “not a place where you could appropriately build a Hampton Inn or a La Quinta,” Crowley says. “It might fill up and be a very successful project, but architecturally, it wouldn’t really be what you want to [see].” So he took on the hotel project because the town clearly needed more rooms and it seemed more fitting for the problem to be solved with local means rather than outside investment.
Carlos Jiménez, Houston-based principal of Carlos Jiménez Studio and a professor at Rice, is the lead designer of the new Hotel Saint George. He first visited Marfa in 1993 to write an article on Judd’s work for a Spanish publication. Crowley and Jiménez first worked together in 2000 on Crowley’s first house in Marfa, designed for Tim and Lynn Goode, his wife at the time. The residence is an impressive compound of CMU block and painted steel in a two-courtyard configuration, sited southwest of Marfa on Pinto Canyon Road (Crowley has since sold the property). Jiménez later designed an addition to Tim’s Crowley Theater, resulting in a sharp metal panel canopy over a reception area and bathrooms. The walls are framed in deep members and are thoroughly insulated; the form acts as a “pillow” to shield the theater’s interior from the sound of passing trains. (As the addition was nearing completion, it was put on hold while Marfa’s construction labor force was absorbed in finishing the Saint George.) In 2011, Crowley was looking for property in Houston in the same neighborhood as Jiménez’s studio. Carlos eventually sold him a lot next door and designed a house for Crowley and his two children. Construction was finished last year, and the two are now neighbors. Jiménez remarked that Crowley is a “very dear friend and a true client, in the sense that he supports what you want to do,” evidence of their history of collaboration and friendship. The hotel project marks Jiménez’s fifth project in Marfa and the fourth designed for Crowley.
Preliminary studies indicated that the new hotel should be located downtown rather than at the town’s periphery, so as to be within walking proximity of major attractions. An early scheme by Jiménez placed its rooms in four blocks with three interstitial courtyards along the railroad where the Farmstand existed; the massing was intriguing but was ruled unbuildable once the cost of soundproofing was considered — measures that were required to isolate sleeping areas from the vibration and whistle of the trains that roll through the town some two dozen times, daily. The duo then focused their attention on the current site, and for eight months toyed with how to treat the lobby, “basically just thinking of many possible ways of dealing with the original building.” What if the pool were there, indoors? What if the ground floor were removed to create a double-height space? What if there were a small theater on the premises? They ultimately settled on the creation of a “public living room” that mixes lobby, retail, bar/cafe, and restaurant uses together in an open plan. Jiménez envisioned the hotel rooms as deep volumes with “apertures” through which one peers out toward the Marfan landscape. His spare west elevation is deliberately straightforward, with a gridded modularity that prizes the fenestrations’ interior experience rather than their appearance as an exterior composition. It could be an office or apartment building; what is important is the form’s repetition of openings, now activated through the habitation of each room: Lights are on or off; windows open or closed; and curtains drawn or pulled, forming a daily portrait of who is staying at the hotel.
Jiménez and Crowley “needed help with Hotel 101,” and engaged with HKS of Dallas to realize proper arrangements for a functioning hotel. Their scope addressed back-of-house needs, hotel floor plans, room layouts and interiors, and all construction drawings. They also suggested recessing the hotel floors from the street edge of the existing building, a small but successful move that detached the renovated plinth from the upper volume’s new construction. Nunzio deSantis, FAIA, who leads the HKS Hospitality Group, and Mary Alice Palmer of HKS provided constant guidance and expertise. Interior designer Alice Cottrell of Dallas also contributed material specifications and finish selections. The San Antonio office of Datum Engineers, led by Larry Rickels, completed the structural engineering. Their analysis of the existing columns revealed enough compressive strength to support an additional seven floors, though the final design only added three.
Crowley told me that an initial effort to bid the project was unsuccessful, given the high travel cost to mobilize subcontractors to Marfa. Later, in 2014, as oil prices4 plummeted, the project was able to secure a contractor— the San Antonio office of Jordan Foster — and began construction. Jiménez remarked that construction was “very basic, no different that what you see in hotels built along the highway,” utilizing standard light gauge metal framing techniques in an optimized manner. The most challenging issue was negotiating the “network of structure” provided by the existing concrete work. Steel tube columns were installed on top of the existing concrete columns, and steel beams were laid between, then pan deck and a topping slab, followed by metal framing and joists for the remaining two floors. Demolition work commenced in October 2014, and construction proceeded rapidly, with interiors finishing and the restaurant opening in March 2016, just before SXSW and the Marfa Myths music festival hosted by Ballroom Marfa.5
The open lobby that welcomes visitors upon entry is the project’s most impressive space. Steel or brick partitions define various spaces but leave them open to each other, allowing lines of sight and sonic spillover that give the area a notably city-like sensation. Exterior openings were partially bricked in, a move that eliminated prized views of the main street, but limited light to a workable, comfortable level inside, an optical choice further softened by the sheer curtains. Air supply grilles are located in the floor, leaving the white painted concrete ceiling clean, save for a line of light fixtures, designed by Tim Crowley himself. Most spatial dividers detach from the columns, leaving the existing concrete to make one wonder about the decisions of those who cast them almost a century ago. The puzzling grid offers “a unique footprint and unusual spatial relationship so that, as you move around these awkwardly-placed columns, you see these other things within it as objects,” Palmer says. Sitting in the lobby, gazing up, the mysterious structure grows abstract in its mix of light and shadow, and the reflected soundings of commerce are reminiscent of an indoor pool. Urban, aquatic sounds in the desert — it is actually a calming thing.
Local skills and materials were critical in the realization of this space. Joey Benton, of Silla, a design and fabrication studio in Marfa, designed and fabricated the wood check-in counter and the steel paneled back wall that hides a stair to the basement and an office, while local fabricator Mack White crafted interior doors designed by Benton. Reclaimed dark blue marble from the original building’s facade is now reused in the countertop for the bar, and spotty parapet brick was relaid in partial height walls to divide the bar from the restaurant. Bar Saint George is open for coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evening, complete with its own menu. Nestled behind is LaVenture, a more private restaurant that bears Crowley’s mother’s maiden name, delivers “rustic American-style cuisine with French and Italian flavors,” helmed by chef Allison Jenkins, who was most recently an executive chef at Austin’s now-shuttered LaV establishment. LaVenture is cozy, furnished with large rugs and Bauhaus-inspired furniture, and includes two private rooms for parties that are both larger and more intimate.
The Marfa Book Company, at the southern terminus of the lobby, remains Marfa’s beating cultural heart, led by its intensely smart operator, “poet/philosopher” Tim Johnson. The store was founded by Tim Crowley. Johnson worked there as an employee and later acquired the business (they now share ownership). Johnson describes it as a “generative cultural space” — a site of encounter, where one can investigate all of Marfa’s cultural dimensions. In the shop’s original location, before the arrival of Saint George, Johnson hosted lectures, readings, concerts, art installations, yoga sessions, record-listening salons, discussions, movie nights, and more.6 Johnson hopes to bring the same energy to the new space. Merchandise is staged at the check-in counter and in the bar, allowing the diversity of the store’s wares to be showcased throughout the lobby. Johnson approves of the interior openness, as it allows flexibility and a multiplicity of inhabitations. Similar qualities of responsiveness appear in his modular Vitsoe shelving system and in his desire to “have something that can absorb new ideas and new directions.” Johnson’s store aspires to “establish the possibility of generative cultural activity” — to provide a space where discovery happens. It is no coincidence that this mindset of curiosity also defines the goals of the entire Hotel Saint George effort.
Traveling up from the ground floor, through the interior hallway, and into one’s telescopic room instantly yields an elevated view of the town environs. The ascent was, I realized, my first time in an elevator in Marfa. Unavoidably, each view is new: The eye blazes across previously unforeseen cornices and rooftops as the town splays out before the clumps of mountains meet the horizon. The rooms themselves — 55 in total, 49 rooms in various configurations and six suites — are generous in size, ceiling height, and furnishings. Behind the bed, a wall of wool conceals a lighting trough and, at headboard level, a strip of mirror ledged with steel distorts the room’s perspective. There are Tolomeo bedside lamps, black and pale wood furniture pieces with an accompanying dark gray Eames chair, and — thankfully — illy coffee. The bathrooms are handsome, with square white tiles, dark grout, and Grohe fixtures. Lying in bed, one can see that the ceiling surface is undisturbed with punctures and serves as a welcome canvas for the wash of indirect illumination or the play of light from the nearby window. Jiménez distinguishes between luxury and opulence, and the rooms shine with the former.
Hotel Saint George stays far away from the epithet of “art hotel,” but contemporary art, in casual installations with a strong bias toward local artists, exists in every public space and in every room. Think of it more as living domestically with art instead of staying in a museum with a minibar. The body of work, gathered by Crowley, Johnson, and artist Jeff Elrod, is highly commendable. Works in the lobby and restaurant are by artists who live in Marfa or who spend significant time there: Christopher Wool, Charline von Heyl, Harmony Korine, Jeremy Deprez, Michael Phelan, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Ann Marie Nafziger, Nick Terry, Maryam Amiryani, and Jeff Elrod himself, among others. In the rooms, work is principally by artists represented by the Marfa Book Company: Martha Hughes, Bob Hughes, Sam Schonzeit, Laszlo Thorsen-Nagel, and others. Many of the works were produced with Marfa-based printmakers Arber & Son Editions. Robert Arber originally moved to Marfa to print the last works of Judd and remained, later working with artists like Ilya Kabakov, Richard Prince, and Bruce Naumann. Riffing on an infamous Warhol stunt where he gifted a hotel an artwork for every room, each of the 55 rooms has a unique Mark Flood painting from his “Lace” series, one of his most sought-after bodies of work. In my room there were four artworks, including one in the bathroom. I had the pleasure of examining my personal Flood “Lace” piece up close while I ironed a shirt mere inches from the canvas (no damage was done).7
Immediately to the hotel’s north, where Crowley’s Farmstand shade structure used to be, sits its in-progress amenity building, a steel frame shed designed by Jiménez with a north-facing clerestory and structural clay tile infill sourced from the D’Hanis Brick & Tile Company. When finished, the new Farmstand will host a variety of activities, organized in sequential slices that call to mind the original scheme of the hotel on the same site. After a street-side parking lot, the westernmost area remains a covered exterior space where the weekly Farmer’s Market occurs. A cafe with regular hours will be inside, followed by a large indoor/outdoor space with a dance floor — made with long-leaf pine salvaged from the existing roof — for events like weddings. A pool area is next, complete with partitioned cabanas and a bar, capped by a larger parking lot. The full ensemble of amenities won’t be complete until early 2017. Diving underwater to feel the water vibrate as a train roars past is, personally, a highly anticipated sensorial experience.
At a civic scale, the Saint George, along with the Judd Foundation’s Print Building, forms a kind of gateway to Highland Avenue, a view that frames the centered Presidio County Courthouse, built in 1886. Taking cues from Judd’s Architecture Studio, formerly a bank, the first floor of the Saint George uses marble tile, although in a small size that generates texture (the tiles are of a “tumbled” variety, to create even more texture). The upper floors, once envisioned in a Corian-like solid surface material, are now stucco with regular horizontal control joints. Jiménez told me he is tired of the extravagance of architecture today, that he prefers buildings that “recede [and] allow life to unfold.” However respectfully minimal it may be, the hotel, due to its sheer size, is an unavoidable new visual component of Marfa’s cityscape, on the scale of the courthouse or the water tower. It will take some getting used to. Hotel Saint George was built on a moderate budget in a remote area with limited access to the trades that metropolitan markets take for granted: Ceiling lights wobble in their alignments; water gathers on bathroom floors; scuppers shed water onto the sidewalk. But the sheer audacity it took to will the hotel into existence overrides its physical appearance, and makes the project a welcome success. Combined with its Farmstand building, the effort constitutes the largest new construction project in Marfa since Fort D.A. Russell was built in the early 20th century, nearly 100 years ago.8 The integrity resides in the main gestures — the treatment of the existing structure and the comfort of the rooms — and, much more importantly, its economic and cultural impact. The project provides about 60 full-time-equivalent jobs, with employees traveling from towns as far away as Presidio and Van Horn to work. It also promises to serve as a reliable point of orientation for curious visitors in a town that is famously hard to navigate.9 The Saint George signals a paradigm shift in how Marfa offers itself to the world.
Arts-related construction in town has picked up in the past few years, and many initiatives go big or go home. An intriguing drive-in theatre designed by MOS Architects for Ballroom Marfa that was to be located east of town at Vizcaino Park was in the planning stages for years before being scrapped, largely due to a lack of funds. As covered in Texas Architect’s March/April issue, the new Robert Irwin building at the Chinati Foundation opens in July. Tim Crowley, who has served on the Board of Directors for Chinati, previously owned the hospital property and gifted it to Chinati for the project, only to see the structure demolished and strategically reconstructed for Irwin’s design. The decision caused an uproar, especially because the museum is known for its dedication to preservation, but the choice was accepted, as it was guided by Irwin’s artistic vision.10 In 2014, Oklahoma architect Rand Elliott, FAIA, unveiled the design of a home for himself on the site of one of the officers’ homes remaining from Fort D.A. Russell.11 The scheme had won a 2013 Studio Award from the Texas Society of Architects, but when Elliott presented it in the local newspaper, he was met with a tidal wave of opposition and criticism from locals, mostly due to a perceived lack of sensitivity to the adjacent artistic site and the neighborhood’s historic past. The project didn’t move forward.
New construction forces further conversation about how the town is to be simultaneously preserved and developed. Marfa has a serious engagement with its built heritage — a key idea for Judd’s architectural endeavors — but it shouldn’t lock in a particular version of the past, forever (the question of what version of the past do you want to pretend still exists never ends well). There are currently no historic districts in the town center (though Fort D.A. Russell has its own), and the current height limit for buildings along Highland Avenue is 90 ft, almost twice the finished elevation of the Saint George, which measures 53 ft tall. As reported by the Big Bend Sentinel, height restrictions are now being considered for Highland Avenue. The Saint George, it seems, initiated new discussions about how Marfa should and could restrict new structures. It is not a question of if development may or may not happen, but rather how it should happen in the most authentic, respectful, and appropriate manner possible.
Beyond zoning issues, the region faces more significant challenges of general infrastructure. Presidio County is one of the poorest and least populated in the country, with about 8,000 residents in an area twice the size of Delaware. The emptiness makes it one of the darkest night skies in America, a boon to the nearby McDonald Observatory, but city lights signal city revenue. At the same meeting where a downtown height restriction was discussed, the City Council also voted to replace their single aging Animal Control truck, for which repairs were no longer worthwhile. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at Cibolo Creek Ranch, south of Marfa, in February, no county officials were available to travel to the scene, and Presidio County’s Justice of the Peace pronounced Scalia dead over the phone. The ladder of the single fire truck owned by the City only works for two-story structures, leaving the taller buildings vulnerable in an emergency. There is one ambulance, which isn’t a problem until it is: In 2014, a teen tragically died after receiving delayed treatment because the local EMS team was responding to another call. An old poem by Marfa-based artist Sam Schonzeit wondered “What do you think the effect / is on a town when a train / passes through and doesn’t stop?” More importantly, what does it mean to be a town with one ambulance?12 Despite all of the prestige rightly awarded to it, Marfa is still frontier territory, and its inhabitants take the risk because the reward — the landscape, the light, the sunsets, the solitude, the community — is worth it.
Marfa has always carried an air of vaguely cosmopolitan otherness. Certainly, New Yorkers shuttle back and forth as if it were a foreign land. This trait is even embodied in the name of the place itself, and disagreement about its origin, a Russian version of “Martha,” persists to this day. The more popular story traces the name to a heroine in “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoevsky, published in 1880 and supposedly read in Russian and suggested by the wife of an engineer. Another story links it to Marfa Strogoff, a character in the Jules Verne novel “Michael Strogoff,” published 1876. I offer another namesake, chronologically impossible but more spiritually relevant: Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1966 film “Andrei Rublev” imagines episodes in the life of the 15th-century Russian painter of Christian icons. In one vignette, “The Feast,” dated Summer 1408, Rublev is captured after spying on pagans during one of their naked feasts. He is tied up in a tent until a woman named Marfa comes to his rescue. “Is love a sin?” she asks. After Rublev demeans her sinful lifestyle, she shoots back, “No matter; it’s love,” before baring her body, kissing him, and setting him free. Later, Rublev and the monks passively watch from their boats as her partner is captured and she, naked again, swims away to freedom. Marfa is that wild spark of earthy abandon.
Marfa’s popularity grows every year, as does Judd’s legacy.13 Jiménez reminded me that we “live in a time where the Internet does not take you everywhere. It is just a way of getting fast information very conveniently.” It creates a revolution in which we can know remote places, but we still have to visit in person to experience them fully. He said, “The place still exerts an allure, and a desire to go.” The art and landscape pilgrims of our new age will continue to arrive in droves to this beautiful retion, and, thankfully, the Hotel Saint George will be there to point the way.
Finally, Saint George minds the details. Inscribed on my bathroom’s Aesop soap dispenser was a quote from Friedrich Schiller, an 18th-century early Modern German thinker: “Dare to err and to dream,” an appropriately Marfan suggestion. The apparatus failed to finish the quote, though, which continues: “Deep meaning often lies in childish play.” Marfa still holds countless surprises. It is up to us to find them.
Jack Murphy, Assoc. AIA, is an architectural designer at Baldridge Architects in Austin.
- Full disclosure: Your humble author is not without bias: He lived in Marfa for five months as an intern at the Chinati Foundation in 2010, giving tours, selling T-shirts, and herding cats, and he still attempts to visit annually to keep up with the times.
- The situation has been discussed as a housing crisis, as lower-income residents or families struggle to find or purchase housing. A fire last May that destroyed part of an apartment complex east of town didn’t help, as 12 families lost their residences. Some have sought architectural solutions: In 2014, Design Marfa, a local initiative that promotes design, held a competition to imagine a multi-family housing complex on a currently vacant piece of land close to the high school. They received more than 150 entries, with the winning submission coming from Paul Vincent, a Parisian architect. Outsiders have also shown interest: A 2014 studio at MIT led by Croatian architect Hrvoje Njiric focused on the same issue of developing low-rise multi-family housing in Marfa.
- Fuller disclosure: Another zinger is my Marfa Subway Map, a poster that comically imagines a potential subway network for the town. It is available for sale at Wrong on Dallas Street in Marfa.
- West Texas Intermediate, also known as Texas light sweet, is a domestically-produced product that has been used as a standard price indicator for crude oil, and is therefore a critical benchmark for the rest of the economy.
- A construction blog, photographed by Marfa local Mary Lou Saxon, steadfastly captured the process, if one is interested in seeing the guts of the project: https://hotelstgeorgeproject.wordpress.com.
- Fullest disclosure: Johnson has hosted an exhibit of your author’s text art in 2014, and as of this article, now actively stocks his work for sale in the new Marfa Book Company. The commercial knots of a small-town life are unavoidable.
- The Lace series is so desirable, Tim Johnson told me, that Mark Flood, always one to thwart the economic bent of the art world, chained a couple pieces to the back of his truck and dragged them around New York City. Flood’s retrospective Gratest Hits runs through August 7 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
- Crowley is the first person since Judd to own and operate a large number of properties in Marfa. But, unlike Judd, who used them as private residences, studios, and galleries, Crowley offers them to the town’s citizens as either outright gifts or for publicly-oriented commerce. Jiménez said it “takes other kinds of visionaries to make the town work.”
- “You either know somebody, or you get to know somebody,” a friend told me, on how to figure out what is really happening in town.
- Associate Director Rob Weiner, speaking with Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster, put it bluntly: “It’s an art museum, not a historic site.” The move, in Lamster’s terms, was a “palatable sacrifice.” Artist Robert Irwin was more direct: “If you’re going to restore something, you plan on using it other than for some kind of strange nostalgia. Who was going to restore that building and for what reason? When the rhyme and reason of it goes out, what exactly are you restoring?”
- Elliott was also the architect for the Marfa Contemporary, a renovation of a gas station at the town’s central intersection that serves as an outpost for the City Arts Center, based in Oklahoma (the project was featured in the May/June 2015 issue of this magazine). The structure’s blue accents and canopy blend with oceanic sky above. The Trans Pecos region was once underwater and, on a good day, the sensation persists: One can imagine the ground as a prickly ocean floor, and the tall sky above us as a vast sea.
- Another ambulance may be donated to the city in the near future, I am told.
- A retrospective of Donald Judd’s work at MoMA in New York is scheduled for next year, and a new Catalog Raisonne is being prepared by the Judd Foundation. A feature in “Apartmento” magazine last year included numerous photos of Judd’s ranches, including their fetishized interiors, right down to the blue enamel cookware.