Prada Marfa

It was summer 2009, and Mom was pining a visit with her mom, my Grandma Cruzita.  So with Kurt’s blessing, the kids and I joined her, hopping on a plane headed west.

The three hour drive from the airport to Grandma’s was fairly uneventful: blue skies,  open, arid ranges, sprinkled with a few lowly antelopes.  Then, a few miles out of Valentine, a building came into view, a iconic oasis of fashion in the desert:  Prada Marfa.  Sabrina, a shoe lover literally from birth, begged fervently with every fiber of her nine year old being, knowing that it was highly unlikely that the name Prada would ever grace the store aisles of our local Russellville, Arkansas Wal-Mart.


There are times when a momma has to chose her battles.  The choice here was simple:  stop and savor the moment.


Appreciation of art is not an instinctive behavior, especially for a nine year old.  And so, she was more than a bit disappointed to discover that the door was bolted shut, and that the store was actually not a store at all, but a sculpture created by Elmgreen and Dragset, a Berlin based artistic team.


Imagine her dismay when Kurt, after a bit of research, learned that the purpose of this installation was to criticize Western materialism.  The structure, built of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, is meant to slowly blend back into the Earth, perhaps meaning that the time and effort invested in “keeping up with the Joneses”, is ultimately futile at best.


There is a certain beauty to Prada Marfa.  It’s simplistic essence was easily captured by Kurt in November 2014, recently restored after being vandalized by a Texas artist in the spring.


Sabrina, now 16, still loves shoes, and I would be willing to bet that, in spite of the fact that she will never be able to enter, will jump at the chance to visit Prada Marfa the next time we are in town!


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