My time in Marfa is drawing to a close. While it was an inspiring and wonderful experience, I’m ready to pack into my SUV and make the seven-hour drive back to Austin, Jarren, the dogs, and SXSW. Our screening event on Saturday night seemed to be a success, drawing over 100 people. The event, at the wonderful Goode-Crowley Theater, was co-hosted by myself and Bart Weiss of the Dallas Video Festival (a picture of us below). Bart screened a series of great shorts and I screened Amanda Micheli’s entertaining SXSW 2005 documentary, Double Dare. The audience seemed with it, for sure.
Marfa is an interesting town. Everything pretty much shuts down around 9 p.m. Everyone knows everyone, yet there’s a distinct division between the longtime local residents and the recent surge of transplants who have come here over the last decade. It’s very much a West Texas town, yet there is an arts community here that seems very nurturing and very inspired. Aside from the gas stations and the Dairy Queen, most businesses here are mom-and-pop, with nearby Alpine, TX the only source for late-night bars, a movie theater, or even a hospital. I stayed at the Thunderbird Motel, which I could not recommend enough to you. There are more galleries in Marfa than there are restaurants, there doesn’t seem to be a single building over five stories tall, and the traffic is few and far between. Hell, there’s really only one stop light in the whole city limits.
I met an assortment of fascinating residents, mostly old hippies and new bohemians. And then, there were people like Whitney Joiner, who moved here to write a New York Times feature, and never left. Or Tim Crowley, man-about-Marfa who has done more to drive interest and business to this town than anyone else. To put it in pop culture terms, Marfa felt like a blend of Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, and Rent. I enjoyed exploring this place, from renting a bike to make my way around, to following the locals who feel so much like a dysfunctional family it’s as if this whole town is one big high school. Here are some pictures from my weekend stay: