The area around Marfa is known as a cultural center for contemporary artists and artisans. In recent years, a new wave of artists has moved to Marfa to live and work. As a result, new gallery spaces have opened in the downtown area. The first day we went to Marfa most of the museums were closed. We went to the
recently restored Presidio County courthouse and saw some spectacular West Texas architecture. We also went to the historic El Presidio hotel. Here is some interesting trivia from the hotel’s website regarding its history.
June 1955—Warner Brothers comes to Marfa and makes the Hotel Paisano its headquarters for the filming of the soon to be classic movie GIANT. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean plus 150 other cast members and crew make the Hotel Paisano their gathering place for six weeks of the summer. After the first two weeks of their visit, the three main stars move to private residences in Marfa. However, they all continue to dine at the hotel, socialize in the lobby and lounge area, and meet to watch dailies from a projector that director George Stevens sets up in the ballroom.
The middle of the West Texas desert isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a fully stocked Prada store. But stop a few miles outside of the tiny town of Valentine, Texas (population 125) and you’ll find just that: A Prada store that is never open for business.
The brainchild of Berlin-based artistic team Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa was meant to be a “pop architectural land art project.” Built of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, the building is meant to slowly melt back into the Earth, serving as a surrealist commentary on Western materialism. Interesting, then, that Miuccia Prada herself was consulted on the project, handpicking the merchandise for the store’s interior and allowing Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada logo. Costing a sum total of $80,000 – or, put another way, about 40 Prada handbags. Prada Marfa’s grand opening occurred on October 1st, 2005, and the perplexed press spread the news all across the country.
Later that evening we went to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area and did see numerous lights. After sunset the typical West Texas weather kicked in. Shorts and short sleeve shirts were no match for the much cooler temperatures and heavy winds.
The next day we returned to Marfa to visit the museums that were closed on Tuesday. Sadly, two of five were closed and the other three were not handicap accessible.