Posted from The Citrus Report
We were going to stay in Austin for the night, perhaps sleep in the car by the beautiful lake, but we spontaneously decided to journey out to Marfa,Texas in the middle of the night after we were kicked out of the mega Whole Foods. This way, one person wouldn’t be able to sleep, but at least the heater could be turned on and everybody can be more comfortable while the sun is gone. We were reclined in the back with our sleeping bags while Saelee drove the seven to eight hour stretch to Marfa, a town about one hour south on highway 10 requested through their Surrogate Travel page. Sherry wrote a blog post on the interesting concept here, while Saelee wrote about her mystical experience of driving there on the Infinite Wanderlust blog.
Saelee drove until she reached a town thirty minutes from Marfa, parking in a diner lot while Jason took over the last bit of driving, arriving to our destination then meandering around every road (there weren’t many) in Marfa again and again for hours. Out of the four of us, Jason loves driving the most and usually volunteers first. I think it’s therapeutic and meditative for him. I was groggy and kept coming in and out of my morning slumber while the car drove over dirt roads that would wake me up sporadically to see an art deco theater, blocks of empty buildings, railroad tracks, a water tower, trailers, and big sparse walls with sun bleached signage. This tiny town only has one stoplight.
Marfa was first a small railroad water town, then a military town and then I’m guessing became somewhat of a ghost town until Donald Judd bought huge acres of land that was a part of the decommissioned military fort, eventually converting the land to become the permanent home to his and other modern artists’ art. The first word that comes into my mind when driving through this town and seeing the art is “boring,” because of its minimal sparseness and understated, nondescript exterior. This site for Marfa’s Chamber of Commerce portrays this town as a much more interesting, thriving place and maybe we just came on the wrong day and need to give it another chance when it’s not Sunday. Despite not seeing most of the offerings featured on Marfa’s site either due to it being closed or because the signage was too “modern” meaning simple and nondescript, by the end of the day, I went from dismissing Marfa to enjoying it a bit, but regarding it as a sort of giant Urban Outfitters (in which they take something that is naturally rustic and down to earth and sprinkle some snooty hipness to it along with an overpriced, not quite justifiable price tag) to growing a genuine fondness and appreciation for this unique town which celebrates art and an interesting concept in living form. I hope to come back despite my initial dismissal. We browsed around in a pretty amazing bookstore with a lot of my favorite art books and had delicious pizza at the Pizza Foundation.
I went through the same transformation from disinterest to genuine love and appreciation with Donald Judd’s works in concrete out in the Texan field. Sherry was on a tour with the Chinati Foundation, the caretakers of Judd’s visionary work there, so I had some time to kill and made a trek over to the dull looking structures that you can see scattered across the horizon in clusters. You have to invest in some time to fully appreciate Judd’s works and don’t worry about trying to figure out what other more highly art educated people tell you it means. It’s better to just experience it for yourself and find out how it can relate to you if it does at all. I thought these were just pointless, grey, boring boxes until within the 2 hours that passed, I noticed all of the dramatically different angles from different viewpoints. The different clusters of the pieces created interesting shadows and crops of composition. If this were in a museum rather than outdoors in the natural landscape, you wouldn’t have been able to touch them and the lighting would be static and wouldn’t change with the time of day, seasons and weather. I thought of Monet’s series of paintings of a haystack. I found a plant that was growing through the seams of one of the boxes and somehow was thriving and found its way to survive from its life as a seed. My favorite moment was noticing that the concrete wasn’t just cold, industrial cement, but was cast with sheets of plywood pieced together, and thus you can see the wood grain in the piece along with the tiny holes in the concrete. This was a beautiful and surprising juxtaposition and combination of industrial and natural materials and I was happy that i trekked through the dry fields to be able to notice this and run my fingers across it. My next favorite moment was laying down in one of the boxes alone, listening to music through my headphones and staring up at a water stain above me that reminded me of a beautiful woman’s face. I wondered if others had laid down in my same spot and thought the same thing. I turned my head and noticed that the box next to me made a picture frame cropping the field and houses in the distance, creating an instant picturesque scenery. I turned my head the other way and noticed another framed scene. It was after this solitary and contemplative moment that i grew to love this place.
– Arnold Coludy
Posted By The Citrus Report