Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Blue Mountain Winery is Closed Until Further Notice"

I don't want to speculate as to why Mr. Johnson wasn't able to keep our appointment. When I arrived at the vineyard site for the interview, the gate was shut tight and an outdated message was the only answer on the phone. When I called again today, just to see what had happened, Mr. Johson's succinct proclimation that the winery was closed until further notice concerned me. I wish the Johnsons well and hope that everything is alright.

Since I have no wine to talk about on this post, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on the most famous art installation in West Texas, the Prada Marfa:

It sits, conspicuous and bizarre, just beyond the near ruins of the old railroad town of Valentine. It is such a shock to see after having driven through the dying little town that I nearly swerved off the road.

The installation was completed in October of last year by the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, whose works are often unsettling commentary on public and private spaces and socio-economic issues. The locked storefront displays real Prada handbags and shoes which are even backlit during the evening. While they'd expected that the work would deteriorate and possibly be vandalized, they didn't expect the latter quite so soon: it was busted up and grafitti-ized just a few days after the opening. They decided to rebuild and protect it from future vandals, but the natural deterioration of the building is something that adds to it's point.

While I can appreciate the social critique of the Prada Marfa, I found myself having an emotional reaction that I didn't expect: it pissed me off.

The town of Marfa, Texas, home of the famous Hotel Paisano where Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean stayed during the shoot of Giant, has lately become a hotspot for hipness, due to its growing population of artists and devotees of minimalist sculptor Donald Judd. This Prada Marfa thing is an extention of this odd artsy gentrification, and I guess that's what bugs me. One of the critiques of the piece is gentrification, but I can't help point out that it's existence is also part of that same process. After all, some elderly lady who lives in a broken down motor home in Valentine probably doesn't give a rat's ass about it. And in a way, it might be a little taunting.

My next stop is Zin Valle vineyards in El Paso, Texas. For more Road Trip postin' fun, check out the Cocktails blog for adventures in spelunking Carlsbad Caverns.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bizarre. What must the locals of Marfa think of all this silliness? I guess if I was one of 'em I'd be tempted to create a little art of my own on one of the many oh-so-precious galleries on Main St. Well, you can throw all kinds of shit up against the wall and call it art. Or philosophy, or religion, or leadership or what the fuck ever. You're kickin' ass, T. Keep up the goods. Now a quote from Oscar Wilde: “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

Here's a wonderful ode to a hangover that I wished I'd written:


4:58 PM  
Anonymous zorra said...

Hi Taj--we enjoyed watching the Marfa lights with you and the Rocinante crew the other night (I was the soon-to-be-50-year-old with the Keats question). (Loved your post about it on the other blog; sorry we missed the "Redneck Mother" chorus.) The DH and I will stay tuned.

Re: Blue Mountain, someone in Alpine told us that the grapevines had died and the place has been bought by some guy in Houston. That's all I know.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I have just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Spectacular Southwest Texas. Flipping through the local tourist bumph, I was thrilled to learn that a lone winery was located in the vicinity. After completing our tour of Fort Davis, we headed out for Hwy 166. I experienced the same sunken feeling as Taj, upon discovering the locked gate and whited out sign. Seems a shame that vines planted in the mid-70's are no longer producing. Thankfully our disappointment was soon blotted out as we continued around the scenic loop.

John Mott
Toronto, Canada

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Stu2 said...

I drank my last bottle of Blue Mountain Wines, 1995 Sauvignon Blanc. It was still as crisp and fresh and full bodied as the first bottle I ever had in 1997. It was so rich and complex, the best Sauvignon Blanc I have ever had. I am saddened that the Winery and those great wines are no more.

9:54 AM  

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