By Isaac Butler
A few years ago, Anne and I loaded six weeks of belongings and our trusty dog Ramona into a Honda Fit and drove to Portland and back. Along the way, I fulfilled a lifelong dream, visiting the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, a town so in-the-middle-of-nowhere that the land around it was used for shooting both Their Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men.
The Chianti Foundation is a very strange and wonderful place and I've been wrestling with the experience ever since in the form of an essay called Live Forever, which I finally decided to send into the world via Medium:
First we are told there will be no water here, in the middle of this particular South Texas desert nowhere, one town over from the Cowboy Poetry Festival, in a room whose walls are the same white as the Guggenheim’s. It’s the first of many dislocations we will experience in the middle of a town named after a Jules Verne character, where we have come to witness the impossible made real, to finish a pilgrimage that has taken all of us an eight-hour drive from the nearest city. Welcome to Marfa, Texas, population 2,200, home to the Chinati Foundation’s collection of minimalist and conceptual art, housed in the former Fort D.A. Russell.
Marfa’s magic is the kind created by the badass wizards of yore, the level fifty mages with eighteen intelligence and an extra D6 of charisma. Marfa’s wizard was named Donald Judd, who gained art world mega stardom with works that used simple shapes to explore form, space and context. After abandoning painting in the 60s, Judd — as everyone refers to him here — embraced a new form that he simply called “three dimensional work,” minimalist pieces that eschewed representation, that were the thing itself rather than a evocation of an object or emotional state. He even refused to call his work sculptures, as the term referenced a European figurative tradition that he wanted to upend.
You can RTWT, as the kids say, here.