When You Get Really Close to a Movie Screen, Film Emulsion Looks like…
Boiling Sand
Picking up where Jane Withers left off.

Over fifty years ago, native Atlantan Jane Withers (along with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson) arrived in Marfa, Texas, to shoot George Stevens’ film, GIANT.

Over the last weekend, this native Atlantan arrived in Marfa to follow in Withers’ footsteps.

Downtown Marfa

In addition to being a movie location for works such as GIANT, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the landscape south of town claims a sprawling art installation by minimalist artist Donald Judd, who bought an old army base here when land was cheap. The land is now home to Judd’s CHINATI Foundation.

Donald Judd's site-specific installation

The art scene doesn’t begin and end with Chinati. There’s an impressive gallery scene, including an exterior video installation outside The Ballroom‘s exhibition space. The works at Galleri Urbane were rich with textural and cognitive pleasures. Equally as engaging was a conversation with the owners, Jason and Ree, on topics ranging from art supplies to Moby Dick to Javier Bardem’s social life while filming in Marfa.

Marfa’s the sort of magical place where just about anything can happen. (E.g., for over a hundred years, on clear nights UFO-like lights can be seen on the Marfa horizon.) How else can I explain that, while grilling hot dogs on Friday night, a guy plugged his iPod into the sound system, and out came one of my favorite Bollywood songs: Mohammed Rafi singing “Jaan Pehechaan Ho” from the 1960s Mod-a-Go-Go epic, GUMNAAM (if you ever want to see sexy Indian babes twisting the night away in saris, rent this one).

But perhaps the most amazing time for me: sitting in the center of town, drinking coffee and nibbling at a cinnamon roll, while talking with a Marfa resident who worked on the set of Fellini’s 8 1/2. As the chat progressed, I discovered she was friends with the older sister of Catherine Deneuve, Fran&#231oise Dorleac. Dorleac (on whom I developed a huge crush when I saw her with David Niven in WHERE THE SPIES ARE at a drive-in in 1965 with my best friend) died at the age of 25 in an auto accident when she was rushing to Nice airport to catch a plane to London. Waiting at the airport, with Dorleac’s ticket, was this fascinating and beautiful woman with whom I was chatting on a bright and cool Saturday morning in Marfa.

BTW, did you know that Marfa is named for a character in a Dostoyevsky novel???

Doug of PostModernJoan

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