The small town of Marfa, Texas has a reputation for being one of the last 'Wild West' towns with a surprisingly good art scene. The artist Donald Judd, known as one of the fathers of minimalism, helped developed the Marfa art community back in the early 1970's when he relocated from New York City and purchased numerous buildings and a 60,000 acre ranch. His effect can still be observed today in galleries across town, as well as at the Judd Foundation/Chinati Foundation located just a few miles outside the city square.
Marfa Art Galleries
Though gallery owners were welcoming and friendly, if there's one thing our trip through Marfa taught us, it's that the town is best visited on the weekend. Monday-Wednesday Marfa pretty much shuts down, so plan your trip accordingly.
However, we were lucky to make a stop at Planet Marfa on Sunday night, which offers various games such as ping-ping, pick-up sticks, and ring toss. Planet Marfa's ambiance evokes a familiar 'weird' feeling of East Austin with their unique social rooms including a tepee, a treehouse, and an old bus.
Driving 1 hour west of Marfa will take you to the Prada Marfa art installation. The tiny building was inaugurated in 2005 and stocked with authentic shoes and handbags picked out by Miuccia Prada herself. The mock store installation was financed by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, a center of contemporary art and culture.
Tumble In RV Park
During our visit we stayed at the Tumble In, a newer RV park on the east side of town. The park was unique in that it was unstaffed, so you checked yourself in after registering online. We were pleasantly surprised that the park had lots of pull-throughs! Tumble In had a minimalist feel very similar to the local art vibe, and during our stay we made numerous friends with fellow nomads passing through town.
The mysterious Marfa Lights still remain a mystery to us after an unsuccessful event to view them one night during the trip. If you make it out to the dedicated viewing spot, it's highly recommended to bring binoculars (and an open mind).
Solar In Marfa
To our surprise, we spotted two solar installations in Marfa. The first was a solar thermal (hot water) system on the roof of what looked to be a community recreation center.
The second was a solar power system on the roof of Ballroom Marfa.
According to a plaque near the door, this 5.25 kW solar installation was donated by Green Mountain Energy and Big Texas Sun Club. It will produce more than 10,000 kWh each year, and well help Ballroom Marfa avoid over 14,000 lbs of CO2.
Inside the gallery we spotted a cool art piece using LED lights connected to a solar panel!
Alpine, TX & Big Bend Brewery
Beer lovers (and non beer drinkers) should make sure to drive 30 minutes east of Marfa to the town of Alpine. Take a stop at Big Bend Brewery and try some delicious local brews, or drive through town and check out the impressive selection of art murals, restaurants, and other attractions.
To our surprise, we found there was more to do and see in Alpine than in Marfa!