SCENE…in a Giant of a sleepy little town in Texas.

MARFA, Texas: An Unlikely Art Oasis In A Desert Town.  Ever heard of it?

marfasighThis tiny town perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert is nothing less than a deceiving world class art station like Art Basel in Miami, or Documenta in Germany. It’s a blue-chip arts destination for the sort of glamorous scenesters who visit Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum ( & let’s not kid ourselves – the drugs too).

Although the locals have mixed feelings about being an art mecca, Kaki Aufdengarten-Scott, Marfa’s one-woman chamber of commerce, says without art tourism, “this town would have dried up and blown away.”

This town has one bank, one pizza place, one coffee shop, one laundry, one radio station, one bookshop — basically one of everything, except for the things of which it has none: billboards, pet stores, chain stores, clothing stores, bowling alleys or traffic lights.

What in the devil? Seen just off U.S. Highway 90.
What in the DEVIL? Just off U.S. Highway 90.  See our Eurovan in reflection?

Was this someones idea of a cruel joke? A shopping mirage? Guess the joke was on me when I tried to open the door and it just would not open.  Believe me I tried.  Hope there was no camera!  My husband laughed at my expense because he knew it would have been at HIS expense had the shop actually been open.

Prada, Marfa is a faux boutique displaying luxury bags and shoes in the middle of the sparse Texas landscape. It was created in 2005 by artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.

When Hollywood needs Western desolation, it comes to Marfa.giant movie

Hotel Paisano - an oasis in itself.
Hotel Paisano – an oasis in itself.

With Hollywood types, it doesn’t hurt that Marfa is, well, a different sort of Texas town, with just one blinking traffic light but 14 art galleries, an independent bookstore and an organic grocery.  Are you getting the picture?

“No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” were filmed here, which made actor Daniel Day-Lewis (of the latter film) a regular jogger up and down the main drag, Highland Avenue, for a while.

Inside hotel paisano
Inside hotel paisano

Also, more than 50 years ago, famed filmmaker George Stevens also settled on this area for his epic Texas oil tale “Giant,” which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. (Stevens won a best director Oscar for “Giant” in 1957, the only win of that film’s 10 nominations).

Hey, I’ve been to the hotel where they stayed at (Paisano) which was a beautiful little find and even saw the rooms they stayed in which made my imagination run wild at the thought of all sorts of shenanigans going on – who was with who, etc.  Well we now know who Rock wasn’t with!   Above Photos: d. kingelizabeth2

Okay, back to 2012. I don’t want to blow Marfa’s cover too much because who knows.. they might even consider opening up a Starbucks? Oops.. maybe they already have.

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The Scandinavian-born, Berlin-based artist collaborators Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset with their permanently installed sculpture aptly entitled Prada Marfa, which actually stands some 30 miles outside of Marfa. The boutique’s resemblance to its major-city counterparts, however, is purely external; visitors are not invited to enter the installation. Yeah I know that! And how does designer Miuccia Prada feel about the work of art, which features pieces from her fall collection in the windows? The answer is easy: she picked the shoes herself.

Scene in the City – Old meets Nouveau

“One Love” for food and beverage at
651 E. 15th Ave @ Fraser St.

at E 15th Ave. and Fraser.

This old but “up and coming” area of East Vancouver is quickly becoming the new “hot spot” with an eclectic array of funky places to check out.

Even though establishments like the “Lion’s Den” cafe and “ClayZone Ceramics/Sculpting Gallery” (previously Heaventree Art Gallery – but with same owner) have been there for many years.

Inside the ClayZone at 661 E. 15th @ Fraser

These two places have had a cult like following from the beginning but with the addition of the newly popular French Bistro “Les Faux Bourgeois” it has gained a fresh clientele.

Owners Ken & Junko

Lion’s Den” has quite the fusion menu with it’s mix of Caribbean and Japanese cuisine or Japaribbean. Most of the time Ken, the friendly Jamaican owner will greet you with a wise crack as his Japanese wife Junko works her magic in the kitchen.  Right now every second Saturday chef “Big Al” originally from New Orleans is in the house to cook up Southern Fried Chicken, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Catfish and Cornbread as only he can. There is of course the story of how they got the name “The Lion’s Den” but you’re better off going in person to find out as told my Ken himselfLive jazz on Fridays.

I love the colors in these clay designs.

On the block you will also encounter design geeks and coffee connoisseurs alike at “Matchstick Coffee Roasters”, a tasty “Gluten-Free Epicurean”, “Che Baba Cantina and Yoga Studio”, “Spool of Thread” where you can buy fabric and be taught how to make something out of it.

Unique one-of-a-kind pieces at ClayZone

Art Galleries offing art classes and magic of clay for all ages and jewellery making classes at “ClayZone Ceramics and Sculpting Gallery” with owner Aline Beth Marshall and other local artists. 

Beth instructs a student at ClayZone
Gluten-Free Epicurean
Art and Sewing classes for a rainy day

Something to Discover!

AWay with Words – on design


Room8 modern counter top

Design is the search for a magical balance between business and art; art and craft; intuition and reason; concept and detail; playfulness and formality; client and designer; designer and printer; and printer and public.

Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future – Robert L. Peters

It’s art if it can’t be explained.
It’s fashion if no one asks for an explanation.
It’s design if it doesn’t need explanation – Wouter Stokkel

Art, Design, Fashion….it’s all personal is it not?

AWay with Words – Artful quotes

An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.

Van Gogh’s  café ce soir

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.  Vincent Van Gogh

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Warhol’s Marilyn

An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.
Andy Warhol

Michelangelo’s David

A man paints with his brains and not with his hands. Michelangelo


The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Pablo Picasso

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. Twyla Tharp (dancer/choreographer)

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Oscar Wilde

Georgie O’Keeffe. Double click to enlarge.
 I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. Georgia O’Keeffe                            
Art is like masturbation. It is selfish and introverted and done for you and you alone. Design is like sex. There is someone else involved, their needs are just as important as your own, and if everything goes right, both parties are happy in the end.  Colin Wright
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Scene in the City: Witty Works of Wong

The Artist

Donald Tobias (Tobi) Wong – 1974 – 2010                             A Designer who made Art & an Artist who Designed     

Wong’s World – a visionary, collaborator, anti-consumerist, provocateur, “paraconceptualist“ (as he called himself), prankster – was 35

He was a designer whose outrageous mimic of luxury goods and witty expropriation of work by other designers blurred the line between conceptual art and design.   Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wong attended the University of Toronto, studied Art and Architecture at Cooper Union in Manhattan then concentrated on sculpture. The design and art world lost one of it’s brightest stars when he sadly took his own life at his home in the East Village.

Killer Diamond – look closely and you can see the claws.  Double click to enlarge.

Clever objects of Desire:

This diamond has been set upside-down, pointy and sticking out, and is held within 4 claws.

Catherine Osbourne of Azure Magazine says it as “the most truth telling, bittersweet object I’ve ever seen that describes what marriage really feels like.”

Lit from within

This is a lamp!

Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair turned into a softly glowing lamp.

The wrong store – double click to enlarge

One of his most elaborate productions was “the Wrong Store“, a hoax-like exhibition he organized in 2007 with Gregory Krum, the director of retail at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

The store, in a tiny Chelsea gallery, was stocked with objects by artists and designers from the United States and Europe and appeared, from the outside, to be a bona fide business enterprise. Mr. Wong had a business phone installed and printed letterhead paper and cards for a nonexistent group of directors.  All was not as it seemed, as the discerning might have gathered from a sign in the window that read, “Come In, We’re Closed.” In fact, the store had never opened.

elaborate gold bill holder used for snorting drugs.  Double click to enlarge.

Other companies were not as accepting of Wong’s work. In a collaboration with Ju$t Another Rich Kid, Wong turned a McDonald’s coffee stirrer (an infamous 1980s “icon” that frequently appeared as evidence in drug trials) into a coke spoon.

Protect me from what I want tattoo

His one-man show is currently on display at the Vancouver Museum (at the Planetarium).  I went to the opening and it was most interesting. You may not love it all but all will agree that he was an Original! See more below:

Wong’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He completed projects for Colette, Comme des Garcons, Prada/OMA, Cappellini and Swarovski Crystal Palace.

Photos: d. king