Goodbye Marfa, Texas

February 2, 2015 3:03 PM

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Goodbye Marfa, Texas

When we love something we inevitably ruin it with our enthusiasm. The pleasure becomes passé, the charm disappears, we move on to the next new shiny thing. Marfa, Texas, is a city on the brink of proving this rule. For those new to Marfa: it is a beautiful, odd, art-filled place at the western edge of Texas, three hours from the nearest airport. This is only its latest incarnation. In the late 19th century, it was a stopover for oilmen, then a picturesque watering hole for ranchers. Today, because of a man named Donald Judd, local Marfans are losing ground to transplants from New York City and Seattle, the kind of people who thought they’d never set foot in Texas.

Judd, a native of Missouri, died of cancer in 1994. But his legacy lives on in the one-stoplight city he made his home. An artist who came to define American minimalism, he left the energy of early 1970s Soho in search of an asset he considered better than paint on a flat surface: in his words, “act...

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