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El Cosmico :: Marfa, Texas

At first glance, Marfa is just a small town similar to the other small towns off of Interstate 90.  But Marfa has a creative spark that I believe will soon be burning bright.  While Hollywood took Marfa by storm in the 1950’s with the filming of “Giant”, it was Donald Judd that put Marfa on the map.  Judd, a contemporary artist, established the Chinati Foundation, which has collection of permanent and temporary artwork.  Judd’s work attracted a number of artists to Marfa, which led to a great number of art galleries in the area.  There are over 12 art galleries in this town of 2,121.

As a result, Marfa is somewhat of a tourist town, bringing movie-goers in for the Marfa Film Festival held every spring and art lovers to the Chinati Foundation’s Open House, an annual art exhibition that also features music.

When we arrived in Marfa, we immediately began to ask the locals where we could find a suitable camping site.  Most of the people saw were in their late 20’s to early 30’s, which was surprising to find in such a small town.  A few mentioned El Cosmico , a developing “camp site” in town that plans to open this year.  John, who lives on El Cosmico, was nice enough to let us camp in the field leading to his home.

I put “camp site” in quotations because El Cosmico is much more than a camp site.  According to owner Liz Lambert, “El Cosmico will be part yurt and hammock hotel, part residential living, part art-house, greenhouse and ampitheatre – a community space that fosters and agitates artistic and intellectual exchange.”  It is a 15 acre stretch of land that currently has 6 airstream-style campers and retro trailers scattered throughout the field.  There are even a couple shipping containers, which are brightly painted on the outside.  Most of the campers are equipped with water and electricity, beds, and a kitchenette.  Outdoor bathroom facilities and solar showers are also on the grounds.

El Cosmico will soon have an outdoor bar, a reception house with a commercial kitchen, a 3-tiered terraced natural pool, hammocks, and much more.  The site is artistic and eclectic, constructed with reused building materials that are accented with splashes of color.

El Cosmico is sure to prosper in this community that is attracting so many visionary souls.  It is a prime example of Marfa’s “spark” – the creative flair that is bringing entrepreneurs and artists from all over the United States.  Will Marfa turn into the younger and smaller Austin?  There are certainly a large number of Austinites who have already relocated to Marfa.  A once intimate community may see the threat of popularization and mainstreaming, forcing those who sought to live on the outskirts of trendsetting cities to look elsewhere.  How can Marfa strike that perfect balance between a small town feel and inspired youthfulness?  I am looking forward to seeing the development of Marfa’s community in the upcoming years.

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