Growing up in small town Arkansas, I will be the first to admit that my exposure to the fine arts was very limited. We had a set of encyclopedias (yep, this was waaay before the internet); therefore, well known paintings and sculptures by Michelangelo, Picasso, and the like were at my fingertips. On occasion, perusing the glossy photos would precipitate daydreams of actually being in New York or Paris, spending hours sauntering through the halls of the Guggenheim or the Louvre.
Never did this activity bring Marfa to mind.
It all started back in the 1970’s. Falling in love with the arid, openness of the area, Donald Judd, an American artist associated with minimalism, decided to leave the fast paced life of New York, renting a house in Marfa. Soon after, he proceeded to buy some of the abandoned buildings there, housing artwork which included pieces created by himself and others. Until his death in 1994, he spent much of his time in the process of acquisition and creation, leaving a collection that would be well received in any museum around the world.
These pieces; however, have a forever home: Marfa.
Word about said art has spread over the years, and many artists and art enthusiasts have made what might be considered a pilgrimage to this small Texas town. Some, like Judd, have decided to settle there, which has brought about significant changes in not only the demographics, but in the “vibe” of the town.
Resistance naturally comes with change, and I have to admit that I found myself uncomfortable with the new “feel”; progressive thoughts and ideas not necessarily rooted in the experiences of growing, surviving and thriving in the West Texas desert, but a larger world view. That’s not necessarily bad; it’s just different, and through the years, it’s something I have begun to accept. The alternative, the death of my beloved Marfa, like so many other little towns, is certainly an unfathomable fate.