Weird West Texas Desert: Marfa

You may have heard of this place… a mysterious small town… a minimalist artist’s hub… home of the lone Prada “store” art installation. Along with other monumental wonders like the dim-lit Stardust Motel sign and the Marfa Lights, this is a lonely pocket of the West Texas desert. There are many hidden wonders to observe in such small towns. On the surface you can only grasp so much… and when you talk to the locals there’s so much more to discover. We even heard there used to be a lonely “World’s Smallest Target Store” art installation as well, but has since been torn down.

Prada Marfa

It’s no secret getting out of Texas is a road trip itself. We left Austin around 7 am to make the six-hour drive out to Marfa by mid-afternoon. We were greeted pleasantly by the front desk of our boutique hotel, the Thunderbird, which even had old-school brass key rings instead of card keys. We are in another world that’s for sure. So we unloaded our bags, loaded the mini-fridge with some libations from our cooler, and headed to the pool.

Unfortunately, we noticed that most Marfa businesses operate Wednesday through the weekend. We had begun our stay on Monday and Tuesday. Bummer! But that didn’t deter us from generally exploring what we could during our two-night stay.

Someone in our yoga class said, “We’re on Italian time.” I wasn’t sure what that meant until we talked to our Milanese tattoo artist in Santa Fe. He said the only reason Italians know about Marfa is from the Prada installation and their tourism grew since it was erected. A few businesses run sporadic hours, maybe because they’re well off from tourism, but I’m not sure. Some businesses did not survive 2020’s lockdown and are taking time off to renovate and hopefully reopen.

Vintage Thunderbird Restaurant sign (pictured left)

It was pretty windy when we arrived and I wondered how this outdoor yoga class would be in the desert… dusty. Normally classes take place outdoors, under the sky (Big Sky Yoga) onsite at the Bohemian El Cosmico grounds. Instead, we headed to the main street to a communal residency building across from various art galleries and boutiques. It was a small class of mostly experienced yogis, all very welcoming. I recalled when someone mentioned “Italian time” as I noticed next door two women sharing a bottle of wine, laptops closed done for the day, curbside of the Stellina Mart: a petite bodega. Salud!

Everyone we met asked us if we were staying at the El Cosmico and now I wish we had! The natural property is gorgeous and expansive. There are several ways to shelter at this place: yurts, teepees, self-camp, airstreams trailers, safari tents, and the Brite Building (where our class was held). There’s even a glamorous micro-home called Cosmic Kasita, composed of high-quality eco-materials and designed with a lighting and color scheme that embodies the El Cosmico ethos. Well, till next time!

Neon Nights: Working At Life is Beautiful

IMG_4377

One of the most anticipated times of the year, for me at least, is when the Life is Beautiful festival comes back to invade Downtown Las Vegas. Last year, after hearing about it from my co-worker, I applied to work the festival in 2017 and received an on call opportunity. Sort of ho hum reaction from myself as I assumed that I wouldn’t be working and would instead be at my real job that weekend. Though on opening day of the festival I got a call to work all three days. Crap! Do I call out all three days from my job? No, I couldn’t do that to my team… so, reluctantly I declined the offer and went on my way.

This year I made a promise to myself, that it potentially being our last year in Las Vegas that I would make it to the festival one way or another. I requested that whole weekend off at the beginning of the year and when August came around I went to the interviews again. Fast forward to Adam and I in Chicago at the ALL IN wrestling event on September 1st, we’re having the time of our lives… I can’t help but check my email and there it is. “CONGRATULATIONS! You’re hired to work the 2018 Life is Beautiful Festival!”

That month passes by with excitement and anticipation for LIB weekend. My friend, who told me about the event staffing, works this event pretty much every year its been in Vegas. So, with experience working in all things customer service from retail to Vegas pool parties, I knew I would be a shoe in. However, it’s competitive! You gotta have a great attitude going in, because the first impression is the only impression that matters for these cattle calls.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 1.32.50 PM

That lineup though…

Besides making money all weekend, I was most excited to just be INSIDE the festival grounds. To walk around and look at all the artwork, food trucks and various stages with all different genres of musical acts… I’m so grateful. The two main groups I was most excited for was French electronic duo Justice and indie rock group Arcade Fire. The whole lineup was pretty spectacular though, with Death Cab for Cutie, First Aid Kit, Wolfmother, Cashmere Cat, Alison Wonderland and so many more… there really is something for every listener. Even the not so “hip with the times” person like myself.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 1.27.03 PM

Photo: From my friend’s instagram @supergluu88 caught the flame throwers going off at my skee ball booth.

My booth, or bar I guess would be the proper thing to call where I was working was on 8th and Ogden street off the main drag of Fremont Street. Though we were pretty quiet during the daylight hours, once the sun went down, we were poppin’ (literally) cans upon cans of beers. In the empty lot we were in, a whole row of neon-lit skee ball lanes were erected for festival goers to enjoy and, spoiler alert, it’s FREE! Unlike anything else in the festival. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, there were lots of opportunities for free swag. One of the biggest sponsors, Toyota had two tents where they had mini DJ sets of main stage acts performing smaller “secret” sets and drew modest crowds of people. All the while handing out bandanas, screen printed tote bags, ice cream, custom enamel pins, and fanny packs! Seriously, so much swag.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 2.32.53 PM

Photo: Multi-colored sequin interactive art piece right by my booth.

Just being inside the park for the weekend, there was so much to see. Besides the musical talent, there is so many art installations and galleries that are put together just for the weekend. One vacant building, The Western Motel turns into an indoor art gallery, where you can purchase artwork. Empty walls and facades turn into a painter’s canvas. All of downtown turns into one giant art installation of all different kinds of mediums. There are always several murals that pop up during Life is Beautiful that I’ll spot when we’re ever downtown at the bars on a later date.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 6.04.27 PM

Photo: Mural by artist Retna.

This was my first year being a part of this festival as a staff member. Though at times not everyone was on the same page, as with crazy, mega-scale festivals can be hectic, I am so lucky to have had this opportunity. I really scored on the location and the team at my bar. They were long 12 hour days, but it didn’t feel like it AT ALL. At the end of the day, it felt like a hard days work well earned. When I was done, I got to enjoy a few of my favorite bands, live. There is no greater sound or feeling.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 2.34.12 PM

See ya next year!

 

Origami, shadows, and Hello Kitty: Japanese fashion hits SAM

1

(Photo by Hailey Way)

The Seattle Art Museum’s new exhibit is a study in the cultural exchange between Japan and the US through fashion.

Remember doorknocker earrings, shoulder pads, and hair that was teased to no end?

Starting in the 1980s, Western influences like these had a snowball effect in the Japanese design industry.  The West’s fitted and symmetrical styles sparked early designers like Yohji Yamamoto to create their own antithetical interpretations of these styles, drawing on the roots of Japanese clothing.

Continue reading “Origami, shadows, and Hello Kitty: Japanese fashion hits SAM”