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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.