High Desert Hideaway

Our stay in Marfa, TX was bookended by drives in crazy dusty wind. The desert lies there, and then whips itself into a frenzy of mini tornadoes and blinding dust. We had a great time, hosted by Ron and Karen. Their home is a living example of life and decay and rebirth that happens without cease in the desert. They have painstakingly (and often painfully) rebuilt their adobe house, along with a wood and metal barn.

What strikes us the most about human life in the desert is the necessary adherence to the natural forms and materials that are available and will work. It is rare to see a structure that wants to impose itself on the surroundings – something quite common in our native Connecticut. And, when people repurpose, restore or reuse a structure, there is invariably an effort to have the building keep its original look and feel, scars and all. It all feels humble, and that makes it easy to spend time there.

Yet as always, there was joy in departing, tempered only by the whipping dust.

We took a lovely walk at the golden hour. This view is north the Haystack Mountains, Antelope Hills and Davis Mountains.
Karen, Ron and their dog Fi.
Karen and I have the same excellent taste in clothes. Karen’s grandfather started the Smokey the Bear ad campaign as a member of the Ad Council in the 1940s.

The town of Marfa has become an art haven (if not Mecca), perhaps to the posthumous consternation of Donald Judd, the New York artist who moved to Marfa to escape the scene. His vision and minimalist sculptures still influence the town. My sense, though, is that Marfa is and will remain steadfastly Marfa. It is a beautiful, dusty, thorny town with an unapologetic love of just . . . being Marfa.

Marfa is known as an artistic town, building on the work and vision of Donald Judd in the 1970s. His vision was to have his work live in a ’clean’ setting, free of the visual and social clutter of New York. Today, the town feels strong and honest. Marfa is known as well for the Marfa Lights, unexplained lights in the plains south of town. We didn’t see them, but we trust the reports.

The Hotel Paisano.
The courtyard of the public library. We popped in to chat. I liked that they display a new poem every day in the window.
Part of the Chinati Foundation, founded by artist Donald Judd on an old Army base he bought. The foundation is central to Marfa’s art world.
The perfect landscaping for a private yard.

We have been discussing buying land for a ”home base” in the future. Yet, we keep circling back to fighting that urge. It still feels right – joyous! – to keep moving. Spending time with Ron and Karen was wonderful, and so was cranking Sandy up and pushing her north and west into the vanquishing wind.

Joe, Holly, Karen, Ron. See you soon!

2 thoughts on “High Desert Hideaway

  1. Joe and Holly, Thank you for the glowing words! The time we spent together was special and we look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, safe travels!

  2. I’ve seen the lights in Marfa! But unfortunately at the time we didn’t know much about the great arts community so we zipped right through the next morning. We will have to explore more next time.

    After 10 years I still feel the urge to travel. It is good to arrive but it always feels good to move on. Enjoy your journey! Looking forward to the next story.

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