Day 1: Marfa
Driving to Marfa can take the better part of an afternoon from El Paso, the closest airport, some 200 miles away. When you hit the town of Van Horn and quit I-10 for Route 90, you’ll have the distinct and liberating sense that you’re leaving civilization. “The desolation is something to behold,” says Shawn Adams, owner of the barbecue joint Marfa Meat Company. “Besides Alaska, it’s really one of the last American frontiers.” In the tumbleweed town of Valentine, you’ll pass Prada Marfa, the faux shop that’s actually a permanent art installation. A half-hour farther south is Marfa proper, which first gained attention when seminal artist Donald Judd began to buy property and produce work there in the early 1970s. Since the 2000s, when a new generation of artistic outliers began to take over the century-old adobe buildings that line the main street, the town has undergone a slow but steady renaissance. “We’d lived in a lot of places before here, but when we found Marfa, we just felt like we had the space to create,” says Gabrielle Gamarello, co-owner of Mano Mercantile, a design shop in town.
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