Good morning, Wednesday. I can't believe it's March. Madness.
As many of you know, I haven't been blogging of late. I've been busy, busy, busy. In the best of ways, really. I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in London, a city that I find so captivating and lovely. I had the very best time there and realized that all of my favorite references for everything from music to style to art and beyond come from the UK. I was also psyched to spend some time in a part of London I was previously unfamiliar with- East London, particularly Bethnal Green. I stayed at the very excellent and quirky Town Hall Hotel, complete with a house dog, a retired greyhound named Dizzy who lounged about the hallways and generally kept things interesting. Plus I became smitten with Broadway Market and the weekend flower market at Columbia Street. So vital. So much life. And such an incredibly diverse city full of amazing people. I'm thinking of posting a "best of" next week so look for that.
But then, THEN, I came home and went to Marfa, Texas two days later for a bit of an explore. David and I have been obsessed with Marfa since we first read and heard about it some years back and always agreed that making it there was very much in our cards. So we finally did. And it did not disappoint.
First of all, let me say- I've always had a fascination with Texas. I just can't help it. The expanse, the skies, the warmth of the people. I have always gotten along with people form Texas, much like I have always gotten along with people from the UK. Yea, I know. There's no way to compare those groups. But as the UK people make me laugh and indulge my geekiness for pop culture and music, a Texan is just a kind spirit with a big heart who, when asking how you are, will actually be interested in the answer. Despite some very weird politics in the Lone Star state, I love Texas. It's BIG. I like big. But the town of Marfa? Small.
Now getting to Marfa is no easy task. We flew in to Houston, and then boarded a plane to El Paso (two hours from Houston), and then jumped in a rental car and drove to Marfa, three hours into the west Texas sun. Not for everyone I know. But we love a road trip more than most so thoroughly enjoyed it. Because once you leave El Paso, the skies open up, the road opens up, and life somehow opens up. And you start breathing.
Sure the Prada Marfa thing is infamous. It's actually a bit outside the town and it's cool and all. But Marfa itself has a magic to it. Sure it's been popularized with fashion and art types the world over, but it's just so cool. The town was discovered by the artist Donald Judd, and his influence is surely felt everywhere. Here's some of the best stuff to do there, Judd fans and otherwise:
Chinati Foundation tour and the Donald Judd Block tours- As mentioned, Marfa is on the map because of Donald Judd, the artist who many credit with founding the minimalist movement (he hated that term). Judd came to Marfa after passing through West Texas as a soldier and became captivated by the landscape. It's hard not to really, but Judd decided to base his studio and life in Marfa, and the Chinati is an old army barracks that houses some incredible art in an even more incredible setting. Everything from some amazing Donald Judd forms to those of his pals Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin. It's an amazing setting- think huge windows facing those magical Texas skies. Also a huge standout was Claes Oldenburg's horseshoe- an excellent outdoor work that looks resplendent in such a setting.'
But hands down my fav was the tour of Donald Judd's home and studio. Called the block because of its compound like enclosure, the home/studio is an incredible space- how cool is it to see where an artist actually lived and worked? Judd was an avid collector, and found a place to display all of his favorite things- from arrowheads to an incredible library, nothing has been moved since he passed in the 90s and since Judd's works of art are meant to be permanent installations, nothing is going to move. I love the permanence of Judd's work. I love it even more against this setting. Incredible. PS- buy tickets to both online before you go- spots fill up fast and the guided tour is a must on the home tour, and super interesting on the Chinati tour as well.
El Cosmico- Oh man. This place. I love, love, LOVE this place. Think your best cowboy/gypset fantasy. Teepees. Yurts. Trailers. All available for lodging. El Cosmico is a campground for chic people, but it's not the least bit pretentious. Sure the gift shop sells some quite spendy items. But it's so damn well done. The branding is absolutely amazing. So impressed with this wonderful little point on the compass. Unforgettable experience sitting around a fire with cowboys and art nerds alike. Good times.
Bonus points to DS and Durga's custom scent for the property- it smells like a delicious campfire. Thus it smells like Texas. It's good, trust me.
The Capri- There's no shortage of decent food in Marfa. True places keep weird hours- by the way, if you are going try and go over a weekend- like a Thurs-Sun vibe. Otherwise you may be eating a la carte from the gas station. Other than that, we really loved the food at the Capri, the restaurant of the hotel where I stayed, the Thunderbird. Fantastic vibe, amazing hibiscus margaritas, and a queso fundido which will break your heart and bust your pants. All at once. It's that good. Worth it. But the Thunderbird itself as a hotel? No. That was the only miss really. The walls were so thin we found ourselves whispering so we would not wake the pit bull sleeping in the room next to us. Needless to say, not terribly romantic. Also no TV. No coffee machine. No fridge. Cool room, well designed, but absolutely not a single frill.
Margaritas at the Hotel Paisano- Oh yes, my friends. We like to drink on vacation. You know it. I know it. You probably do too. So for all of us, we're in luck. Because the margaritas flow freely all over town, with a favorite at the elegant and retro Hotel Paisano. With prickly pear goodness. Amazing. And though I'm far from above cracking open a Lone Star (see below), I do love a good margarita. And this hotel has a pretty cool history- the cast of "Giant" stayed here while they filmed the moving. So basically James Dean and old Texan vibes and killer drinks. Yup. I know.
Drive to Big Bend- This was quite a day. If you leave Marfa and head out towards Big Bend National Park, you'll drive through about three hours of prime desert, along the banks of the Rio Grande, and incidentally, on the border of Mexico. This drive was life changing. Space aged. Charged. Mountains, boulders, white fields of wheat filled with black cows. Expansive skies that made me think of Frederick Remington. A very special ride. Crack open a Lone Star and hit the road. Nobody cares. It's Texas. Plus you'll be alone on the road for miles, and you'll like it. And ghost towns. Those too.
Mano Mercantile and Freda- So here's something. Texas livin' don't come cheap. At least not in this town. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that shopping here is not more in line with the budget of a Texas tycoon vs. a New York creative type. But a store like Mano Mercantile gives you pause, because maybe you do need a 200 dollar custom army jacket. Or a pair of vintage Japanese pajamas. Or a 30 dollar vintage bandanna. I bought two of those ps. And will surely become my fav accessories of Summer 2017.
Oh and Freda is a fab little store selling all kinds of yummy smelling things like some of my fav oils from Maison Louis Marie and pretty dresses and jewelry. Very well done. All of the retail in Marfa is vastly appealing and sophisticated yet so cool and laid back. Don't even get me started again on the goodness of the shop at El Cosmico. I could live in that glory.
Breakfast at Buns N' Roses- Love this spot for killer straightforward coffee and breakfast. Good people, and amazingly tasty breakfast burritos. Very Marfa- the right mix of authentic Texan and those just passing through. Went twice in four days. That's how much I liked it. Plus doughnuts. Which I generally hate. But these traditional glazed versions were damn straight and darn good.
So really, Marfa Texas made me feel alive. Really alive. And I just can't quit it. Those skies. Those fields. That landscape. Oh and the stars at night. Holy moly. We did not get to see the infamous Marfa lights, but we were cradled by stars- thick, beautiful, milky stars. Just in love with this part of the country. And much like Donald Judd's immovable art, we are always ourselves, no matter where we go. But sometimes the setting in which we find ourselves makes us look at ourselves and each other a little bit differently. And my spirit will always belong to travel and wandering and all things get up and go. I'm eternally grateful for all of these experiences and look forward to making many more. Is the schlep to Marfa worth it? Hells yes it is. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but we loved it.
Oh and one more thing- TOPO CHICO. I'm a huge sparkling water kind of girl and adored the Mexican take on it. Fab. Watch your butt, La Croix. Topo Chico may be coming for you. No fancy flavors, just amazing bubbly goodness from down Mexico way. So good.
Cause that's what's up with me this wandering Wednesday back home in New York. Now what's up with you? Yours, in coming home (but always plotting my next course). XO