Marfa, Texas, located west of Austin and north of Big Bend National Park, is a town with secrets. We have passed through Marfa twice before without discovering the art scene that is reputed to exist or see the “mystery” lights that put Marfa on the map. A large observation center has been built 8 miles east of town to view these lights. Some people have called this a hoax. So be it.
Determined to solve these mysteries for ourselves, we camped in nearby Alpine and drove into Marfa to discover its secrets for ourselves. This proved difficult. There are no visitor center signs, no information centers, nothing points to the jewels we finally uncovered even though we could see several galleries and workshops in old and rustic buildings in town.
Quizzing the proprietor of El Paisano Hotel, the librarian, restaurant staff, and the chance meeting of the Conservator of the Judd Foundation, the veil finally fell off and we spent hours on guided tours and on our own exploring the Minimalist world of Donald Judd, Daniel Flavin and John Chamberlain.
Books are needed to do justice to the collections and permanent exhibitions in Marfa and their place in art history. These books and publications exist as well as web sites (see below) that will give you a glimmer of what we saw and learned. Donald Judd arrived in Marfa in 1973 and his story and work is maintained in two foundations, the Judd Foundation and the Chinati Foundation. I have signed a release and cannot share any images I made of the artwork in a public forum. It is worth an electronic journey in the least to these web sites and if you can, a trip to Marfa, Texas.
Oh yes, the mystery lights are still under a veil for us. If you do visit and see the mystery lights, please, let me know.
Photos of Marfa Town Hall and Chinati foundation welcome sign
Ann Carol Goldberg