Marfa, Texas

MARFA, TEXAS

Last week my friends and I took a weekend trip to Marfa, Texas.  The coolest, tiniest, and artsiest town west of the Mississippi. The place is mostly full of art junkies and southern hipsters who exiled themselves to such a place for the good of their own work — even the longtime locals are far out. 

There are galleries and shops and cafes, swimming pools at western chic hotels, all speckled throughout the town of nearly 2,000 individuals. The eclectic Marfans own and open their superettes only when they feel like it. Now, I say this with the utmost admiration for these folks, really.  Marfa living is easy living and I am all for it.  This town reps and proudly embraces the Mañana mantra: the belief that time allotted to do sweet nothing is time well spent. And what’s more, necessary.  

My friends and I fully embraced this Marfa mindset by chilling out (only somewhat literally of course, thanks to the 100+ degree weather) and getting some thorough relaxation in during our weekend stay.

El Cosmico

We bunked at El Cosmico, a sister property to Austin’s very own Hotel San Jose and the Austin Motel.  However, this place is unlike its siblings in that guests must throw their traditional hotel room expectations out the window. In fact, there aren’t really any “rooms,” or windows for that matter, at all.  The first night we stayed in a safari tent, complete with a bed, fan and mini bar. And that’s about it. No AC, no room service, no glamorous balcony overlooking the west Texas desert plains. At El Cosmico, you’re pretty much right up in it.  They’ve got outhouses for showers and wood fire Dutch hot tubs that look like bowls for salsa. It’s a bohemian’s paradise. They also offer other forms of lodging like tepees, yurts, and trailers ranging from tiny to extra large, which are really something else, inside and out.  The trailers were so enticing in fact, that we decided to upgrade ourselves to a small trailer, called Amigo, night two. Worth it.

The campsites were great, however, the heat of the West wastes no time in essentially forcing you to get up and get to it.  So once we were up and at ‘em by 8am, our days mostly consisted of a schedule as follows: breakfast, gallery viewing and chotsky shopping, lunch, pool, dinner and drinks… then maybe some more drinks, stargazing, and good conversation in the comfort of our hippie hideouts.  I’ve included a list below of some of our favorite spots to see and places to dine.

The Mañana Mindset

My favorite part of the trip, aside from all the pool lounging and art gawking, was the mood that Marfa inspired within me and those who I was with.  El Cosmico calls it a “liberation from an obsession with productivity. A revolutionary act rather than a dereliction of duty. A declaration of total freedom to say, “now, I do nothing for a little while.”  It might sound like a far out, utterly unattainable way of being, but if there is anywhere that can inspire your stress to flee and your mind to rest, it’s Marfa.

We met some incredible people in Marfa. Some who have lived there all their lives, and others who spend the summers there making art, or music, or simply finding their zen.

TO DO + SEE

  • Chianti Foundation — Donald Judd, patron art saint of Marfa who also owns most of the city, created an art installation of 100 unique boxes that live inside two large warehouses located on this property.  Also located at the foundation are several other buildings full of works by artists like Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, John Chamberlain and more. Definitely worth checking out.
  • Ayn Foundation Kruger Gallery — We were lucky enough to come through when the Ayn Foundation was hosting three massive Warhol paintings: versions of his famous project, The Last Supper.  This was #1 on my list of coolest things we saw, for sure.
  • Ballroom Marfa — A great gallery with unique exhibits and installations that come and go frequently.
  • Marfa Book CompanyGreat place to go if you forgot to pack a book for a trip to the land of no wifi especially.  But in general a shop worth checking out.
  • Hotel Saint George — Located in the middle of downtown, this place is great for food, drink, and there’s even a pool across the street.  The watering hole at Bar Nadar was our oasis from the midday heat.
  • Vending Machine — This is a shop, or a room rather, with only a vending machine inside.  It’s contents are more than just chips and crackers though. You can purchase sunglasses, t shirts, candy, buttons and more.  A novel idea I could get used to seeing more of around town.
  • Marfa-RecsVisit this website for even more Marfa recs!

TO EAT

  • Al Campo — This place has some damn good tapas and wine.  Plus, the ambiance is everything. This is where the locals hang, we know because there are so few of them that after two days in the town, we recognized them. All.
  • Squeeze Marfa — Our go to breakfast spot.  Coffee, pastries and yummy breakfast sammys – what more could you want?
  • Stellina — Italian food with family style seating.
  • Marfa Burrito Co. — I’ve never seen a bigger burrito.
  • Planet Marfa — Pizza and beer garden.
  • Do Your Thing Coffee Shop
  • Frama Coffee
THE INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC

Don’t lie. You are probably guilty of arranging your food on your plate to translate nicely on your iPhone camera. You have probably changed your outfit after scrolling on Instagram, realizing that you’re not just dressing for the people around you, but also the people that follow you on social media. Our sense of community has extended beyond our real-world perceptions and now simultaneously takes place on the internet.  

It’s not news that we are constantly being warned about the health effects caused by our screen addictions. A multitude of studies have been published about Instagram and mental health or scrolling and insomnia—and that’s just skimming the top.

Living inside our phones has altered our reality to become an extension of our social media feeds, begging the question: is this a good or a bad thing for our society?

Overall, we have curated our real, every day lives to be camera-ready at any moment. From our morning coffee and perfectly messy bun, to our gym routine, and even the notebook we use at work–everything must translate to the “Instagram aesthetic.”

It can be argued that this gives off a false sense of reality, blurring the lines between social media and the gritty truth we all experience #IRL.

At the same time, if Instagram is the venue that pushes you out of bed in the morning to document your walk through the park or a trip to a museum—isn’t that a good thing?

Instagram has inspired ages across different generations to travel a little bit more outside of their comfort zones. In a sense, the “Instagram aesthetic” has given way to a whole new perspective on the world.

Through this wonderful photo sharing app, we are able to learn about new destinations that we never would’ve dreamt of visiting. It exposes us to bits and pieces of culture from emerging artists that we wouldn’t have found without access to hashtags. A stream of constant motivation comes through from fitness influencers who can personally train us through their Insta Stories.

And let’s not forget the community that Instagram has brought together. A plethora of strong figures continue to encourage us to live our best lives, support each other, and speak our truths. It’s through this app that we are able to connect with like minded souls that we would’ve never crossed paths with #IRL. Is the differentiating factor whether or not these virtual connections transition to in-person experiences?

So, we’ll leave it up to you: Is Instagram enriching our society through exponentially increasing the rate of connections we make on a daily basis or is it forcing us to uphold a fundamentally flawed aesthetic when we honestly all know better?

Don’t lie. You are probably guilty of arranging your food on your plate to translate nicely on your iPhone camera. You have probably changed your outfit after scrolling on Instagram, realizing that you’re not just dressing for the people around you, but also the people that follow you on social media. Our sense of community has extended beyond our real-world perceptions and now simultaneously takes place on the internet.  

It’s not news that we are constantly being warned about the health effects caused by our screen addictions. A multitude of studies have been published about Instagram and mental health or scrolling and insomnia—and that’s just skimming the top.

Living inside our phones has altered our reality to become an extension of our social media feeds, begging the question: is this a good or a bad thing for our society?

Overall, we have curated our real, every day lives to be camera-ready at any moment. From our morning coffee and perfectly messy bun, to our gym routine, and even the notebook we use at work–everything must translate to the “Instagram aesthetic.”

It can be argued that this gives off a false sense of reality, blurring the lines between social media and the gritty truth we all experience #IRL.

At the same time, if Instagram is the venue that pushes you out of bed in the morning to document your walk through the park or a trip to a museum—isn’t that a good thing?

Instagram has inspired ages across different generations to travel a little bit more outside of their comfort zones. In a sense, the “Instagram aesthetic” has given way to a whole new perspective on the world.

Through this wonderful photo sharing app, we are able to learn about new destinations that we never would’ve dreamt of visiting. It exposes us to bits and pieces of culture from emerging artists that we wouldn’t have found without access to hashtags. A stream of constant motivation comes through from fitness influencers who can personally train us through their Insta Stories.

And let’s not forget the community that Instagram has brought together. A plethora of strong figures continue to encourage us to live our best lives, support each other, and speak our truths. It’s through this app that we are able to connect with like minded souls that we would’ve never crossed paths with #IRL. Is the differentiating factor whether or not these virtual connections transition to in-person experiences?

So, we’ll leave it up to you: Is Instagram enriching our society through exponentially increasing the rate of connections we make on a daily basis or is it forcing us to uphold a fundamentally flawed aesthetic when we honestly all know better?

TRAVEL | Guatemala
In February Chris was on the road, building a home in Rabinal, Guatemala. The team of 20 volunteers traveled to a small town among the mountains and volcanoes near Salama. Working on the foundation on the house involved a good deal of dirt transportation and rebar, allowing us to really earn our happy hour cerveza.
TRAVEL | Joshua Tree
Capturing the beauty of a harsh high desert requires an array of both landscape and detail shots. This place is so unique it feels like an alien landscape.
EVENT | Lure Boutique Holiday Party
We were hired to capture Lure boutique’s “Most Austin’s Most Stylish Holiday Party”and did our best not to spend our entire budget on their cute clothes!
 
TRAVEL | 4 Tips for Maximizing Your Trip to Costa Rica
When you tell people you’re traveling to Costa Rica, you hear the same statement, “I’ve been there, and you’re going to love it.” Typically I have chosen to make up my own mind about travel destinations, getting lost in the jungles of Honduras (figuratively) or discovering locations in the mountainous plains of Bolivia on my own terms. Costa Rica, however, lives up to its hype. From the cloud-covered slopes of the Arenal Volcano to the stunning fine sand beaches of Samara, the beauty of this country is riveting. My adventures tend towards the more rugged side, i.e. run a few kilometers to a waterfall in the morning, and do a little caving in the afternoon.  Costa Rica was perfect for that. The memories and photos I took from this place easily put this trip in the top 5 vacations of my life.

And with that said, I offer you these tips to really maximize your travels in the land of Pura Vida:

Skip the hotel. Rock the hostel.
With private bars and gorgeous pools featuring swim-up bars, the hostels in Costa Rica feel a lot like little private resorts. The real difference will be the wealth of enthusiastic international travelers you will meet and warm friendships you will form.
Listen to the guides.
Known for popular tours like mountain biking and zip lining, it would be easy to miss some of the hidden gems most travelers miss. A twenty minute conversation with a guide after a hiking tour one afternoon turned me onto an incredible cave tour. The tour was so off-the-radar of most tours that it ended up being a private guided tour, through the cave guide’s favorite portions.
Talk to the locals.
Not everything worth seeing is in the guide books. Posting up at a local bar, bumbling through my horrific Spanish, I started up a conversation. As the conversation turned to dating, the twenty-something told me about a unique tree hidden away in the forest near town. Long ago, vines had wrapped the fallen tree creating a jungle-gym-like ladder making it easy to climb into an adjacent treetop. The view from the top as the sun set across the valley was magical, well worth the purchase of two pints of Imperial.
Soda > Restaurant
A “soda” in Costa Rican Spanish doesn’t mean a soft drink, but smaller local restaurant. Common in even the most touristy areas, these little mom and pop eateries offer absolutely delicious meals at a fraction of the prices of nearby restaurants. What better way to get the local flavor, than getting the local flavor.

Costa Rica offers a wealth of amazing habitats and well-preserved wilderness. And if you were to ask me in person, I’d tell you ‘you should go there, you’re going to love it.’

TRAVEL | Bolivia
Chris Sebilia’s photography adventure across this landlocked South American country.
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