Last week I had the unforgettable privilege of visiting western Texas for the first time. Not only to catch up with nearly a dozen far-flung friends in the renowned art capital of Marfa, but also to see a ton of underground music at Mexican Summer's Marfa Myths festival. It is what they call a package deal.
You may have heard about Marfa, which has been blowing up the radar of alt-travelers since the 1970s, when Donald Judd claimed a hefty acreage of it to work on large scale art outside of the claustrophobic New York City scene. In the last fifteen years, it has attracted even more write-ups and attention than usual for hosting art-and-music events including Prada Marfa, Trans-Pecos at El Cosmico and of course Marfa Myths.
Marfa Myths was started five years ago by Mexican Summer, a small Brooklyn music label representing a bunch of fabulously talented kooks I had never heard of. Some of their hot ticket performers included Suzanne Ciani, Amen Dunes, The Weather Station, Innov Gnawa and Helado Negro, all of whom I have been playing on loop since returning home. Performances are scattered about the small town of Marfa (pop.1800) over the course of four days and nights with additional radio-friendly mini-sets happening all weekend outside of festival Headquarters. Between sets, it's easy to get around town on foot to check out The Chianti Foundation, the Judd Foundation, many independent galleries and pop-up art happenings hosted by Ballroom Marfa, et al. It's all of the good things about a small town (walkability, close knit community, cowboy politesse) that I took for granted growing up. And did I mention the color palette?
By sheer happenstance, my boyfriend ran into a friend there who happened to have moved out that way a while back, and he kindly invited us to a tour of Chinati, home to a great slew of works by Donal Judd (whose name is never far from Marfa's lips), John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Bridget Riley, John Wesley, Robert Irwin and more. Said friend is a talented artist in his own right who held a showing of his works in a charmingly dilapidated bungalow on Saturday night. His drawing, both delicate and sensual, showed the kind of quiet thinking that can happen in a quiet town in the right frame of mind.
Needless to say, the weekend charmed our pants off and will surely be seeing the likes of us come next spring. It had that kind of feeling when you go to a great wedding and get kind of weird and are friends with the whole party by the time you leave. Knowing that the festival community is temporary heightens the appreciation you have for it in the moment, and a little gnawing in the corner of your heart wants it to stay on forever.