Ballroom Marfa Art Fund


Fairfax Dorn in San Antonio Magazine

8 Apr 2016

112_POI_FairfaxDorn_RyanInzana-7149baca In advance of Artpace San Antonio’s annual fundraiser honoring Ballroom Marfa co-founders Fairfax Dorn and Virginia Lebermann, Fairfax talks with San Antonio Magazine about her lifelong connection with art in Texas …

Almost two years ago, Dorn transitioned from executive director of Ballroom Marfa to artistic director, and returned to New York City. She married art executive Marc Glimcher and still travels to Marfa regularly. And though she has been enjoying more family time, she said she misses home. “I think about Texas all the time. I miss all the aspects of it: the birds, the grass, the relaxed nature, even the experience of art is just different there.”

Keep reading in San Antonio Magazine.

Ballroom Co-Founders Honored at Artpace Gala

7 Apr 2016

ArtPace Gala 2016 Ballroom Marfa co-founders Fairfax Dorn and Virginia Lebermann will be honored at Artpace San Antonio’s The Happening, their annual fundraising gala and 21st Birthday celebration. From Artpace

Raise a glass to Artpace’s 21st Birthday at its annual fundraising event,
The Happening, hosted by Co-chairs Anna Wulfe and Christopher C. Hill. The 21 Club Speakeasy Happening will celebrate Artpace’s coming of age with drinking, dining, and dancing ‘til dawn.


Artpace is proud to honor Fairfax Dorn and Virginia Lebermann, the visionary founders of Ballroom Marfa, who have worked to elevate Texas and Texas artists in the international contemporary art arena. Dorn and Lebermann transformed a 1920s-era dancehall into a dynamic, contemporary cultural arts space where varied perspectives and issues are explored through visual arts, film, music, and performance.

Find tickets and more info at Artpace.

Ballroom Marfa Names Susan Sutton as Executive Director

22 Sep 2014

Susan Sutton
Photo courtesy the Menil Collection, Houston

MARFA, TX – Ballroom Marfa’s board of directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Sutton as its new executive director. Sutton comes to Marfa after a four-year tenure at Houston’s Menil Collection, where, as assistant curator, she most recently organized A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James (2014), an exhibition exploring the work of the celebrated designer in relation to John and Dominique de Menil, two of his most committed patrons.

Fairfax Dorn, Ballroom Marfa’s co-founder and outgoing executive director, will transition to the role of artistic director, where she will work with Sutton in conceiving and implementing the creative and strategic vision for the Marfa-based non-profit. Dorn has served as executive director of Ballroom Marfa since she founded the organization with Virginia Lebermann in 2003. Lebermann is currently president of Ballroom Marfa’s board of directors.

“Ballroom Marfa has an extraordinary history,” says Sutton. “I am awed by the inspired risk the founders took to build it. I come from an institution where the founders believed in Texas, saw its potential, and wanted to create a world class place for the arts, on par with New York or Paris, and with intense loyalty to Houston. I see this same inspiration and loyalty guiding Ballroom Marfa. Ballroom is a nimble space that seeks out experimentation, supports emerging artists, and bridges different disciplines in the arts through its holistic point of view, which is extremely exciting to me.”

“Susan’s background includes scholarship, curation and the management of exhibitions at one of North America’s most significant museum collections,” says Dorn. “The diverse experience she brings from the Menil make her an ideal person to guide Ballroom Marfa as we continue with our ambitious plans for the future.”

Sutton joined the Menil Collection’s curatorial department in 2010, and was promoted to assistant curator in 2014. Sutton curated The Menil’s recent exhibition, A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James (2014), with interviews and features appearing in System magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Magazine and on Houston PBS. Sutton managed the exhibition Byzantine Things in the World (2013), contributing a major essay, “Resistant Surfaces,” to its catalogue. In 2012, Sutton led the management of The Progress of Love, an international simultaneous three-venue exhibition with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. In conjunction with The Progress of Love, she launched the Menil’s first exhibition related website. She was also a contributor to African Art from the Menil Collection (2008).

I [art] Marfa

8 Aug 2014

I [art] Marfa

In April 2014, we were honored to be part of the “I [art] Marfa” series for Arte Creative in France. Conceived and filmed by Sébastien Carayol and Katie Callan, the pair spent a week in Marfa, interviewing five locals: the Chinati Foundation’s Rob Weiner; artist Julie Speed; Ballroom Marfa Executive Director Fairfax Dorn; Food Shark owner Adam Bork; and artist Sam Schonzeit. The series is finished, and excellent. Watch Dorn’s episode here; or view the entire series here.

You put in what you get out,”

Prada Marfa: An Explainer

27 Sep 2013

James Evans, Prada Marfa, 2005
James Evans
Prada Marfa, 2005
Digital photograph
40 x 50 inches (unframed)
Limited edition available from Ballroom Marfa


Prada Marfa: An Explainer

What is Prada Marfa?

Prada Marfa is a site-specific, permanent land art project by artists Elmgreen & Dragset constructed in 2005. Modeled after a Prada boutique, the inaccessible interior of the structure includes luxury goods from Prada’s fall collection from that year. The door does not open, ensuring that the sculpture will never function as a place of commerce. Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa co-produced the project.

Prada Marfa is an artwork initiated by ourselves and realized in a collaboration with the not-for-profit cultural organizations Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa in 2005. It was not a work commissioned by the fashion brand Prada nor had the fashion brand any involvement in the creation of this work. They kindly gave us the permission to use their logo after we asked them, due to the founder Miuccia Prada’s personal interest in contemporary art, and she donated shoes and bags, which have never been renewed but stay the same – as a historic display – inside the sculpture. The right definition of advertisement must be based on criteria more accurate than just including any sign which contains a logo. It is advertisement only when a company either commissions someone to make such a sign, pays for its execution or makes a sign themselves in order to promote the company’s products. And this is not the case here since Prada Marfa never had any commercial link to the fashion brand Prada, unlike the Playboy bunny which went up this summer initiated by Playboy itself.

Prada Marfa is firmly positioned within a contemporary understanding of site specific art, but also draws strongly on pop art and land art – two art forms which were conceived and thrived especially in the USA from the 1960’s and onwards. Many artists, from Andy Warhol with his famous Campbell soup cans to Andreas Gursky with his grand photographic documentation of retail spaces have appropriated and dealt with the visual language of commercial brands. In an increasingly commercialized world, we see the independent artistic treatment of all visual signs and signifiers as crucial to a better and wider understanding of our day-to-day surroundings, including the influence of corporations.

It comes as a big surprise for us that the Texas Department of Transportation now after eight years may declare this well-known artwork to be illegal and we think it would be a shame for the local community if it disappeared after being there for so long since the work clearly is one of the strong points for the cultural tourism, which is such an important financial factor in this region. However, we are very happy to experience the fantastic support from both art professionals internationally, locals and others, who have even created a Facebook page named “Save Prada Marfa” that after just a short while has received almost 4000 likes and daily receives plenty of new posts, stories and images from people who once visited this site.

— Elmgreen & Dragset


Within our 13 years of producing and presenting important public art, few works have been as eagerly embraced than Prada Marfa by Elmgreen & Dragset. With full integrity, the artists refused for us to ask any corporation, especially Prada, for monetary donations to support the making of this project. It took us over a year of intense fundraising from local and international private patrons to realize this authentic and pure permanent artwork. The family of the late Walter Alton “Slim” Brown, even generously contributed to the project by lending their land. Great public art empowers people and gives them alternate ways to understand the times that we live in; Prada Marfa is a civic gift that has become one of the great worldwide pop icons.

– Yvonne Force Villareal & Doreen Remen
Art Production Fund


Prada Marfa is a living sculpture, an installation that has taken on a life of its own. In the eight years since its creation, Elmgreen & Dragset’s work has become part of the cultural and physical landscape of Far West Texas. At the same time it has entered into international art history discourse. It’s part of what people think of when they think of Marfa, either as art lovers on a pilgrimage, or as surprised passersby.

It’s also a non-profit project — supported entirely by funds from foundations and individuals — and the antithesis of commercialism. Prada Marfa is an embodiment of the Ballroom Marfa mission to combine innovation and accessibility without compromising on either front. We are encouraging engagement with art, and Prada Marfa is an important precursor to other public art projects in Marfa and Far West Texas.

– Fairfax Dorn
Co-founder and Artistic Director
Ballroom Marfa

Where is Prada Marfa?

MD/NY in the Big Bend Sentinel

1 Aug 2013

A letter to the editor from Fairfax Dorn and Hamilton Fish, from the July 25, 2013 Big Bend Sentinel:

To the many friends and supporters of the Marfa Dialogues in the high desert – We have exciting news: the Marfa Dialogues project is hitting the road and will be opening this fall in New York City with a series of programs on climate change and the arts that will expand on the symposium held in Marfa last September. It’s been our dream to build on the work we started here in 2010, and to export the Marfa Dialogues model of engaging the arts with social and political concerns to communities around the country.

With the support of our partners at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation we have created a two-month long Marfa Dialogues calendar of events in New York, beginning in October. More than 20 leading New York cultural, academic and public interest institutions are participating in this city-wide public conversation around climate change. Like our Marfa project, but on a larger scale, the Marfa Dialogues/New York program will feature community forums, public panels, an exhibition curated by Ballroom Marfa at the Rauschenberg project space in Chelsea, an online magazine, public sculpture projects, theater performances, cabarets and film exhibitions – and in the enduring spirit of Marfa, we also have an environmentally conscious food truck as one of our program partners.

Through your participation as co-sponsors, audience members and supporters, the Marfa community has helped shape this initiative. We are hugely grateful for the collaborative efforts of Tim Johnson and Caitlin Murray of the Marfa Book Company; Robert and Rosario Halpern of the Big Bend Sentinel; Tom Michael and the staff at Marfa Public Radio; Farm Stand Marfa; Cochineal; Maiya’s; Rob Crowley, Gory Smelley; The Crowley Theater; Thunderbird Hotel and The Capri; Padre’s; Robert Potts of The Dixon Water Foundation; and to the Food Shark and chef Rocky Barnett for all of their amazing creations. Add to that all of the camera people, copywriters, graphic artists, publicists and the very long list of all of you who contributed so much to the success of our first two Dialogues.

Even as we are expanding the horizons of the Marfa Dialogues project, we will continue our established practice of producing a new Marfa Dialogues program every other year here in Marfa. So break out the new dress and press that shirt – the Marfa Dialogues will be returning to Marfa in the fall of 2014.

And with the Marfa Dialogues banner flying over New York this fall, we hope if you can you’ll join us there and be a part of the exciting schedule of climate change programs being organized across the city. In the next several weeks we’ll be posting more details about the calendar of events on and our new website,

With great appreciation to all,

Fairfax Dorn
Hamilton Fish, co-founders, Marfa Dialogues

For more information on Marfa Dialogues past and future, visit our archive.

Announcing Marfa Dialogues/NY

16 Jul 2013


Marfa Dialogues/NY to Debut in New York City this Fall

Interdisciplinary Project Brings Together Over 20 Leading Cultural, Academic and Advocacy Organizations Citywide To Address Climate Change in Art, Activism and Science.

June 27, 2013: The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation will bring the Marfa Dialogues to New York in October-November 2013 as part of a continuing examination of climate change science, environmental activism and artistic practice.

Marfa Dialogues/NY will feature two months of programming including community forums, art exhibitions, musical performance and environmental panels, all accessible to the public and available via broadcast and digital media. Ballroom Marfa will present an art exhibition of environmentally-engaged works at the Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space (455 W. 19th Street in Chelsea), and will orchestrate additional events with Marfa Dialogues program partners at that location.

A calendar of events will be available in August at, along with ongoing context and discussion for participants. For more about previous Marfa Dialogues, see

Through program grants provided by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Marfa Dialogues/NY establishes 18 programs radiating across New York. Programming partners include:

The Carbon Tax Center; The Center for Social Inclusion; Columbia University’s Earth Institute; Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate & Society; Cooper Union’s Institute for Sustainable Development; Gallery Aferro; High Line Art; IMC Lab & Gallery; Joe’s Pub at Public Theater; Mary Miss/City as a Living Laboratory; Materials for the Art; New School’s Center for New York City Affairs; NRDC; Sculpture Center; Socrates Sculpture Park; Storefront for Art & Architecture; Superhero Clubhouse and Triple Canopy.