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NPR Goes to Marfa, Texas

by Jerome Weeks 2 Aug 2012 5:10 PM

‘This tiny town perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert is nothing less than an arts world station of the cross, like Art Basel in Miami, or Documenta in Germany. It’s a blue-chip arts destination for the sort of glamorous scenesters who visit Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum and the drugs.’


As part of NPR’s Destination Art series, reporter Neda Ulaby visited Marfa:  minimalist sculpture Donald Judd’s former Army base, the 400 acres now owned by the Chinati Foundation and the entire ‘arts town’ that’s now grown up around them:

Just in the past three years, The New York Times has run almost half a dozen features about Marfa — one solely on its handful of restaurants …

Vegan food, straw bale houses and funky bars filled with artsy kids clinking Shiner Bocks with famous painters and film directors. Their pearl-buttoned shirts and cowboy boots can make the place feel like a Western-themed outpost of Brooklyn. And for a town of only about 2,000 people, you can amuse yourself nightly with screenings, readings and, of course, gallery shows….

But it can be tough, says poet Tim Johnson. “It’s also a highly critical community, so people will let you know if [your art] is second- or third-rate or whatever,” he says.

Listen to her story here.