Marfa

Some Buildings in Marfa

Marfa is a ranching town in the high desert of west Texas that, remarkably, is also a center for minimalist art, drawing visitors from around the world.   That was enough of an anomaly to make me hit the road. Setting out from a rented Airstream my first morning in Marfa, I saw that the town is a combination of slick and ramshackle. Hip art galleries and restaurants are mixed in among adobe structures serving ranchers, abandoned industrial buildings, modest sheds and bungalows.

Like most visitors, I went to see the work of Donald Judd, the artist who settled in Marfa in 1971 and who is responsible for its latest incarnation as an art destination. Judd's own work -- paintings, sculpture, and design -- favored geometry, rectangles, cubes, straight lines.  He loved architecture, books, furniture, lighting fixtures, all things beautiful, well designed, and functional. During the 20 years or so that Judd was in Marfa, he bought up many 1930s buildings and repurposed them -- for his personal use and as exhibition space for his work and that his of fellow artists. Influenced by Judd, like-minded folks came to Marfa from urban centers and left their mark on the town. Now, ranchers and other old-timers live and work alongside artists, gallerists, and tourists.

Judd's vision got to me. I saw both formal beauty and historical significance in Marfa's architecture, not just in vintage gas stations made into white box galleries, but also in modest and often run-down buildings. These photographs document Marfa's architecture and, in so doing, allude to its history. Back home, as I look at the photographs, I realize that it wasn't just Judd who was with me in Marfa, informing my process. Walker Evans and Ed Ruscha were there too.           Back to Series