The Marfa Chronicles

"Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface." -Donald Judd

We move forward now, survivors of the pandemic and Trumpism; yet the need to recover physically, mentally, and spiritually continues to be paramount and omnipresent. Individuals, families, companies, and communities are all seeking something wholesome, like a hot towel to the face on a cool morning.

We want to breathe again, and smell, and feel good about ourselves and our outlooks for the future. We want to love ourselves and America again. We want to forgive our original sins and raise our standards. We want to hug our friends and dance.

COVID and the isolation it demanded also provided time to think, and time to see new things and new ways. The way it was will never be again, so we do what human beings do. We shed the past like dead skin and we improve as we learn to be more compassionate, down-to-earth, patient, and kind.

Light and Shadow in the Morning

The greater the source of light, the more delicate the shadows.

In Marfa, Texas, you can buy a ticket to walk among fifteen concrete works by Donald Judd that were cast and assembled on the site over a four-year period, from 1980 through 1984. The individual units that comprise each work have the same measurements of 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 meters and are made from concrete slabs that are each 25 centimeters thick.

Darby and I walked the property at 8:30 in the morning, an ideal time to see the long shadows made by each installation. The scale of this project is both majestic and mysterious. I found myself asking," “How did he do this?” several times over, and I imagined the artist as mathematician and astronomer.

More Space, Slower Pace

Sanctuaries. They’re not easy to find these days. With the number of people on earth expanding exponentially, charming little river towns, mountain towns, beach towns, and desert towns are for the most part claimed, and visited by throngs of new seekers each year.

Marfa is on this great places map and people do seek it out, but getting to Marfa requires an extra effort. By car, it is three hours from El Paso and six plus hours from Austin, and there’s no airport. Therefore, this small town is discovered but not yet overrun. There’s still room for and time for innovative artists and entrepreneurs to make it work.

This was our second trip to Marfa, and this time we found a new calm. A calm that I credit to the sunny weather, the big sky, the lack of traffic, noise, or pollution, and a vibrant and consistently artful approach to architecture, food and beverage, retail, hotels, the local newspaper, and more. Marfa won us over and is helping to make us over in this way—Marfa is a place but it’s also a page we can all choose to be on. We can be patient, we can look to the stars, we can believe again.

Lagniappe

  1. Matthew McConaughey’s new book, Greenlights, is entertaining and inspiring in equal doses. Highly recommended!

  2. I removed the Twitter app from my phone. I rarely read or compose Tweets today. For me, Twitter is the black mirror, so I put it down.

  3. For others, Instagram is the black mirror. My hope for humanity is that we can stop touching glass and touch each other again.

  4. Do you need a central Texas-based photographer for editorial shoots or portraits? I’m working with Jennifer Klanika on two new projects.

  5. The Big Bend Sentinel is a great weekly newspaper that serves several communities in far west Texas.

Let’s Work

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You cast a spell.

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Thanks for being here now.