Publisher’s Point: Prada Marfa, Whimsical or Wacked?

10-19-2013 8-16-09 AMMy husband has been over the road for more than a decade, and it is due to the blessing of technology that we are able to talk each day for at least an hour, which is perhaps more than many couples do who come home to each other after close of business. We send pictures, jokes, texts, and now that we both have IPhones, sometimes we do Face Time, which lets us see each other as though we were on Skype. Face Time at times is painful, because the camera’s view of yours truly is not exactly kind, but getting a chance to see my honey’s beard that threatens to take over the planet, as well as his twinkling blue eyes that swept me off my feet long ago make the harsh reality of what is captured by the camera on his end more than worth it.

10-19-2013 8-15-31 AM

Recently he was in El Paso, and snapped a picture of the orphanage on the Ciudad Juarez, Mexico side where we used to live and work. On the top of the mesa where the orphanage is located were two tiny bumps that would be indistinguishable to the eyes of most, but I knew they were some of the buildings he had helped to construct while we lived there. I texted him and said, “Makes me miss it and you, all in a good way.” “Me too you,” he texted back.

Not much later we were talking on the phone as he was further on down a two lane, (or “skinny road,” in Trucker Speak,) out in the middle of absolute nowhere, heading toward Marfa, TX, when I heard him say, “What the heck is that? Hon, I just drove by this building that is out on the edge of the desert with the word Prada on the front, about 12 shoes (not pairs) in the window, a woman in a white burqa who got out of her car to look at the front of the building, and two guys across the road taking pictures.” On his way back he was able to snap a pic, and when it was safe to do so, sent it to me.

10-19-2013 8-18-10 AM“Good night nurse,” I thought, and decided to see if there was any trace of it on the Internet. Sure enough, Prada Marfa has been there since 2005, is a commissioned piece of pop art, cost 80,000 dollars to produce, has been vandalized, restored, and the subject of litigation. Not bad for a few shoes! It is the proof that you are getting close to Marfa, where there is now new life blood flowing in the town’s veins because some artists decided that this would be just the place to make a new Taos or Santa Fe. Oh, and did I mention that the project was privately funded, and not the red headed step child of the National Endowment for the Arts?

What makes this even more fun is that the townspeople are mostly grizzled old ranchers that have been slugging it out in the desert for generations, and now they are peacefully coexisting with the artists. Strange bedfellows, no doubt, but the point is that someone came up with a wacky, whimsical idea, paid for it themselves, revitalized a town, brought unity between the “un-likelies,” and now there is a whole new reason to endure the infernal question, “Are we there yet?” Not bad, not bad at all.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner