way out west
Creative industries gather (and prosper) in Marfa for the Trans-Pecos Festivalof Music and Love
Marfa revealed itself to artist Donald Judd sometime around 1971. He started out renting a house in the West Texas town as refuge from the New York City art scene, and eventually established a permanent installation of his work in two former military hangars and several scattered outbuildings.
Marfa’s magic has cast its spell over decades and over many—James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson recognized Marfa's charm and spent two months filming Giant in 1956, residing in the historic Hotel Paisano.
But steady your horse Marfa: it is your turn to be bewitched.
Enterprising hotelier Liz Lambert most recently paved the way for Marfa's growth with El Cosmico and the Hotel Thunderbird, two offbeat destinations for city-weary travelers to take advantage of the tiny town's more laid back atmosphere. Following her lead, other designers, restaurateurs, fashionistas, artists et al. are easing their way into the local milieu, as well.
Ingenuity is becoming a staple here. Last weekend’s Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love further populated the town with vibrant, creative minds.
Lorna Leedy used to run her fashion and clothing business out of her Eurovan, sewing in National Parks around the country with her husband. In 2009, she parked the car in Marfa and opened Fancy Pony Land, which showcases her lines “inspired by animals, birds and the natural world” (she forgot to mention her humor) along with a stable of other local designers.
For the festival, Leedy brought in one of her sewing idols, Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. Chanin exhibited her layered, minutely detailed hand-sewn pieces unpretentiously and casually, as if she were not a revered clothing designer. Chanin was relaxed, even nonchalant, as Patty Griffin tried on one of her pieces and Robert Plant observed nearby.
Gail Chovan, owner and designer of Blackmail in Austin showed off her collection in an intimate setting at Tobin Levy’s house nestled in one of Marfa’s quirky neighborhoods. Her tiger lace tight bodice gowns in singed ivory stood out against the Marfa sky; they were fitting for any pioneering modern woman.
The Nashville based Imogene + Willie drew a devoted crowd familiar with their boutique denim line who could not get enough of trying on pair after pair of black indigo slimming jeans. Carrie Eddmenson, the co-founder with her husband Matt Eddmenson, and Amanda Urrego kindly measured each pair for a custom fit which would be presented to the new client via mail after their Nashville atelier completed the alterations.
Chef Lou Lambert of Lambert’s Steak and Seafood & Whiskey in Fort Worth and chef Larry McGuire of Perla’s in Austin fed festival attendees with a roasted pork taco dinner and divine peach cobbler a la mode on Saturday evening.
Sunday morning’s fundraiser for Marfa Public Radio with pancakes provided by Batter Blasters, breakfast sausage by Frank and hangover relief by Tito’s Bloody Mary Bar was a form of love all its own, rounding out the festival’s mission.
This past weekend, the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love provided what is often not available—an easy, accessible, unrestricted celebration full of inspiring talent, ideas, wide vistas and enough magic to carry attendees on until the next one.