Credit Art (c) Judd Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
In the 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa, Texas, where he created giant works of art that bask beneath vast desert skies. In the years since, Marfa has emerged as a hot spot for art tourism.
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This summer, NPR's Destination Art series is going off the beaten path to visit small to midsize North American cities that have cultivated lively arts scenes. And we want to hear from you! Where's your favorite art hot spot? What makes it unique? Tell us about it.
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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.
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Though 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."
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The Marfa Book Co. is run by poet Tim Johnson, who doesn't think Judd would approve of Marfa's emergence as a chic art world destination.
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"You just come out here and you feel like, I want to make something; I want to do something!" explains sculptor Campbell Bosworth. Above, a creative car, spotted on the street in Marfa.
This tiny town perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert is nothing less than an arts world station of the cross, 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 and the drugs.
"They speak about Marfa with the same kind of reverent tones generally reserved for the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Lourdes," notes Carolina Miranda, a writer who covers the art world.
Fowler notched his 130 days in al-Qaida captivity on his belt. He was held in north Africa in 2008-09.
Credit Courtesy of Robert Fowler
Former Canadian diplomat and U.N. envoy Robert Fowler (center, front row) was kidnapped in 2008 by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and held for more than four months. He says al-Qaida's recent rise in Mali should be seen as a serious threat to Western interests.
For all the verbiage about al-Qaida over the past decade, only a tiny number of Westerners are actually speaking from firsthand experience. Robert Fowler, a former Canadian diplomat and U.N. envoy, is one of them.
In December 2008, Fowler and a U.N. colleague were traveling through a remote stretch of southwestern Niger, near the border with Mali, when gunmen forced them from the road.
Chris Bram is the author of the novel Gods and Monsters.
Gore Vidal was famous for his hates: academia, presidents, whole portions of the American public and, most notably, Truman Capote. Yet he could be incredibly generous to other writer friends. He wrote beautiful, appreciative essays about Tennessee Williams and Dawn Powell.
He was a man of many facets and endless contradictions.