Welcome To Marfa, Texas: Hipster Paradise

Deurbanization is everywhere these days. The cool kids move to Brooklyn. Brooklyn gets lame and they move to Detroit. Or Omaha. Or, in extreme cases, to the most desolate place on earth, Downtown Los Angeles.

Contemporary culture is obsessed with finding that cool, unexplored or abandoned gem that’s still authentic. Every hipster dreams of being the first bold colonist in that neighborhood of abandoned factories. Unfortunately, most people are posers, and they settle for a Girls-like existence in a community of white people in an area of a city that used to be “like, so ghetto.”

However, those that move to West Texas are kind of the real deal.

In 1971, minimalist artist Donald Judd rented a house in Marfa, Texas “as an antidote to the New York art world.” He chose Marfa because it was where the 1956 epic Giant, starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, was filmed. The house he rented eventually turned into a studio and that studio into a compound of minimalist art pieces laid out on the empty landscape like boulders on a plain. This compound, called the Chinati Foundation, became a fly-trap for artists frustrated with the scenes of various big cities throughout United States. And so they began to trickle into Marfa. Forty years later, it’s become a tiny hipster heaven of edgy galleries, food trucks and weird music.

Hollywood, normally behind the curve, has taken early notice. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were filmed during the same summer in Marfa. The story goes that the Coen brothers lost two days of filming because of the plumes of black smoke wafting from P.T. Anderson’s set.

Marfa is populated by irreverent artists and other deurbanizers—those who love the smell of authenticity that hangs thick in the air. On a roadtrip from New Orleans to LA, I stopped by Marfa. Here is what I saw.

Photography by Isaac Simpson and Adam Solomon.

Isaac Simpson is a writer and producer living in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter here.

  • Matt

    I’m from west Texas, get outta my house y’all.

    • http://twitter.com/PiluChavez Carlos

      El Paso right here.

  • Ken P

    Glad to see some Judd love on here. Worth checking out the documentary on him moving to Marfa. He’s the original “hipster” no doubt

  • http://www.brunopostigo.com Bruno Postigo

    You guys ran into CSS O_o

  • tnreagan

    Texas repzzzzin’. Harlingen and College Station in da house

  • rich

    Very cool article. I’ve long felt the same about poser hipsters. I wonder, do you think it’s an accident those movies were shot in Marfa and it’s become a hipster haven, or has it become a hipster haven, in part, because those movies shot there?

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminjamesross Ben Ross

    Solid piece. Makes me want to visit– which ironically enough, is the sentiment responsible for ultimately destroying all pristine, cool things and places.

  • Brett

    Glad to see you’re continuing to put out quality work, Isaac. See you in LA!

  • Evan

    Those Hipsters sure do love their Prada.

  • Doc

    This writer knows how to bring us from Southern Oregon to Marfa Texas……Simply MARFA-lous!

  • saywhat

    what, no Marfa Lights?

  • theDude

    That’s Coen, Isaac. Spelling matters.

  • Werewolves In Their Youth

    This place sounds like a real hoot. And of course you ran into CSS in Marfa Texas.

  • rubycw

    Very cool, well said and concise…do you think a 4 seasons will be coming soon, or better yet , a Best Western?

  • http://twitter.com/nkrienke Nick Krienke

    I was expecting pictures of bearded men riding hilariously tall bikes…

  • Tj Matally

    Chinati Foundation seems like a place where one of those electronic/house/experimental/ artists would make a music video. Preferably Grimes.

  • Maggie

    I stop in Marfa for the night every chance I can on my journeys from Houston to LA and can’t get enough of it.