This is not an essay about Marfa. By now you’ve probably read an article or two about the place, breathless odes in a variety of publications—glossy monthlies, art journals, travel magazines, the New York Times. You’ve heard about how this tiny little one-traffic-light town, isolated in the high scrub just north of Big Bend, has become the improbable pleasure ground of the Euro-American art crowd, how galleries and boutiques and nice hotels and restaurants have opened there, how it’s been turned into an oasis, or perhaps a blight, in West Texas. I’m not going to talk about that at all.
This is an essay about space and time, and if that sounds even more dreadful, let me explain: I spent a month in Marfa last spring, as the grateful guest of the Chinati Foundation. They had invited me to stay in a bungalow on the grounds of a decommissioned Army base, which now serves as a 340-acre compound dedicated to the art of Donald Judd and the artists he loved and which hosts, on a semiformal basis, artists from out of town who need space and time to work.