Plan Your Vote


Mike Simonetti Good Times DJ Set

17 Sep 2015

Simonetti Boiler Room

Get an idea of what’s in store for the Ballroom courtyard following the Äppärät opening with this Mike Simonetti DJ set from Boiler Room NYC. From their site:

The last part of our Good Times partnership series with Jamie xx, Young Turks and A-1 Records back in August at the pop up shop on the Bowery was with the one and only Mike Simonetti, co-founder of Italians Do It Better and now head of his own label 2MR, and basically your favorite DJ’s favorite DJ.

Stream it on Soundcloud, or watch and/or download from Boiler Room. Simonetti’s DJ set follows the opening reception for Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa this Friday, September 25. Reception from 6-8pm, tunes start in the courtyard at 8:30p.

So You’re Coming to Marfa Myths: Where to Stay (Part Two in a Series)

5 Feb 2015

As you may have heard, Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting the Marfa Myths festival over March 13-15, 2015. If you’re coming out, use our Marfa guide to help navigate your journey. See part one here, and read on for tips on where to stay.

Marfa, Photo by Justina Villanueva
Marfa. Photo by Justina Villanueva.

Marfa has four hotels:

Hotel Paisano
West Texas gem. Restored hotel with original architectural details, plus an outdoor pool and a restaurant. The cast of Giant — Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson—stayed here during filming. Rooms start at $99.

Thunderbird Hotel
1950s motel converted into minimalist-chic retreat with modern art-laden rooms, a pool & fire pits. Bicycles also available to rent. Rooms start at $180.

El Cosmico
El Cosmico is an 18-acre trailer, tent and teepee hotel and campground. Bicycles and wood-fired hot tubs are available to rent. A hammock grove and an outdoor kitchen with a fridge, sink and barbecue grills add to the bohemian vibe. Camping is risky business in March in West Texas, but you never know, the weather may cooperate. Rates start at $95 for a safari tent (which have beds with heated mattress pads and are pretty swank).

Riata Inn
Roadside motel with big rooms and a cold pool. Cheapest option in town. Note: You probably need a car to stay here, unless you’re a good walker, or plan on renting a bike from Bizarro Bikes.

There are many great houses and rooms available for rent in the area — check out all the options on VRBO and airbnb. We recommend booking as soon as you have your travel plans in place.

If you can’t find anything in Marfa, never fear! Try Fort Davis (21 miles away) and Alpine (27 miles away). Though a bit of a trek, both are pretty manageable. Plus Alpine is a university town, so there are lots of budget motel options — not to mention Alicia’s and Big Bend Saddlery. Fort Davis has the historic Indian Lodge, which was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a great thrift store.

Mimms Ranch, October 4, 2014. Photo by Jennifer Boomer.
Mimms Ranch, Marfa. Photo by Jennifer Boomer.

Although Marfa can feel carefree, please remember that you may not drink in public after public drinking hours. As hosts of 2011’s Railroad Revival Tour pointed out, “According to the Sheriff’s Department, public drinking hours end at 12:15 am Friday night, 1:15 am Saturday night, and at 12:15 am Sunday night. Absolutely no drinking can occur in public after these hours. This will be enforced.” Fair warning.

A few years ago, West Texas suffered from terrible wildfires that ravaged the area and destroyed homes, livestock, and land. Many of these fires can be traced to human carelessness. While we are not currently in a burn ban, it is best to follow these simple rules:

• NO open fires. No exceptions.

• Do not park or drive over dry grass.

• Use extreme caution with anything that produces a spark, including ashes or cigarettes.

• If you do not have an ashtray, do not smoke. Do not dispose of cigarettes out of car windows or on the ground, anywhere. Instead, extinguish the cigarette and keep the butt in your pocket or pack until it can be disposed in a waste bin or ashcan.

Marfa. Photo by Aurora Tang.
Marfa. Photo by Aurora Tang.

Check back later this week for our next installment, where we discuss things to do in the area (#1: take photos of the sky). For general info about Marfa, check out and, where you can find other housing suggestions, ride shares, and more.

Special thanks to Railroad Revival’s visitor guide from 2011 for some of these tips.

So You’re Coming to Marfa Myths: How to Get Here (Part One in a Series)

30 Jan 2015

As you may have heard, Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting Marfa Myths over March 13-15. If you’re coming out, you may need some help navigating your journey to Marfa. Enter our visitor guide (in five parts).

Lineup by Rob Carmichael

Marfa is a town of about 1900 people, and we are bringing in a slew of visitors for the festival (not to mention it’s Spring Break). The impact of our presence will be huge. Please remember to be respectful of the community — be kind to strangers, pick up after yourself, be patient, and understand that we are a community of hard-working people in a very small town. Adjust your expectations (we have no drugstore; shops and restaurants have funny hours), and see these quirks as part of the adventure.

Marfa, Texas

You can get to Marfa via car; plane; and kind of by train (the train will take you to Alpine, which is 25 miles away).

• If you’re coming from Austin, the drive is seven hours; from San Antonio, six hours. (Flying from either of these places doesn’t really make sense.) Houston is about 9-10 hours away — flying cuts down on that journey, but doesn’t give you quite the flexibility.

• The closest airports are El Paso and Midland, both about three hours away (directions from each here). If you fly into El Paso, rent a car, pick up a snack at Taco Cabana or Pho Tre Bien, and blast the radio (El Paso’s Fox Jukebox [Sundays, 12-8pm] is awesome; as you get closer to Marfa, tune in to Marfa Public Radio/KRTS 93.5). Driving after dark can be a bit grueling: if you can schedule it, roll into Marfa around sunset.

• There is a municipal airport in Marfa (three miles from Marfa) and one in Alpine (26 miles from Marfa), which can service most private jets. We think there’s a shuttle from the Marfa airport, but call to confirm.
Marfa Municipal Airport: (432) 729-4452
Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport: (432) 837-5929

• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, the time zone changes from Mountain Time Zone to Central Standard Time, and you lose one hour.

• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, you’ll pass Prada Marfa on Highway 90, about 35 miles from Marfa. It will be on your right, just before you enter the town of Valentine, Texas.

Prada Marfa map by Paul Fucik
Map of Prada Marfa by Paul Fucik.


• Most Marfa galleries, shops, and restaurants are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Plan out-of-town excursions or loafing around on these days.

• Consider stocking up on snacks and water prior to arrival: there are only two groceries in town, plus a Dollar General. (You might also get cash, too — there are only two ATMs in town, and neither are chain banks.)

• We recommend booking your lodging prior to traveling. Hotels in Marfa will most likely be sold-out that weekend.

• If you are flying into El Paso, or driving from the West, you will pass through a Border Patrol Checkpoint on your way to Marfa. Be forewarned.

• We’re in the high desert, about a mile above sea level, and the altitude and dryness can be rough on newcomers. Stay hydrated.

• Cell phone reception can be spotty out here. Embrace it.

Out the driver side window
Sunset on the drive into Marfa

Check back next week for our next installment, where we discuss where to stay and if a safari tent at El Cosmico is all that (it IS, though possibly chilly in March).

Special thanks to Railroad Revival’s 2011 visitor guide for some of these suggestions.

Irene Agnes O’Leary at the Lumberyard this Saturday

17 Dec 2014


Ballroom Marfa intern Irene Agnes O’Leary will have work on view this weekend here in Marfa! Irene Agnes O’Leary Drawings: Social Spaces opens this Saturday, December 20 at 7pm at The Lumberyard, 213 S Dean St (across from the Get Go).

From the artist’s statement:

By using the traditional medium of drawing and photographic sources, these portraits address the nature of human encounters and the realm of perceived social space between spectator and subject. Characterized by layers of transparency, these drawings illustrate expressive gestures as bodily, pictorial forms of consciousness, and hierarchical relationships between line and form is further used to expose a dialectic between depth and flatness within a 2-dimensional space. Pulling from historical notions of beauty in the context of art and life, I frame my portraits around the human condition with an undercurrent of desire and empathy.

Irene Agnes O’Leary is a visual artist based in Texas. In 2010, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso where she focused on painting and drawing. Irene then pursued and earned her MFA in Multidisciplinary Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2013, where her paintings and drawings shifted to incorporate the realm of photography. Irene’s work focuses on portraiture as a medium to reflect on social constructions of gender, class, and self-identity formed by ideologies of visual culture. Find more on her website,

Making the World Strange Through Opera: An Introduction to Vidas Perfectas

1 Jul 2014


Sigue leyendo en español

Before the Texas/Mexico premieres of Vidas Perfectas – an all new Spanish-language version of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives – in El Paso, Ciudad Juárez, and Marfa, we wanted to present you with a quick primer on some of the important aspects of the piece. The new work, directed by Alex Waterman, has been in development since 2009 and replaces not only the language but the location of the original work, moving from the American Midwest to the Far West Texas desert.

Vidas Perfectas is presented by Ballroom Marfa in conjunction with the El Paso Opera, Whitney Museum of American Art, ISSUE Project Room and Irondale Brooklyn.

Vidas is the realization of years of hard work, rehearsal, and research by the cast and crew, and will be an exciting tribute to Ashley, who passed away earlier this year.

Waterman, who is a founding member of the Plus Minus Ensemble and performs with the Either/Or Ensemble, has been engaging with Ashley and his work for over a decade. He is currently co-writing a book on the composer’s notational scores entitled Robert Ashley: Yes, But is it Edible? and working on his PhD in musicology.

Vidas Perfectas will premiere in El Paso on July 12 and then move to Juaréz (July 13) and Marfa (July 18-19). All the details are on the Vidas Perfectas page.

Who was Robert Ashley?

N+1, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal Reflect on Robert Ashley, “Perfect Lives”, and “Vidas Perfectas” at the Whitney

16 Apr 2014


Vidas Perfectas premieres tomorrow at the Whitney Biennial and many have taken this opportunity to reflect on Robert Ashley’s legacy and the great works he left behind, particularly this recent three-opera series at the Whitney.

In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey discusses with director Alex Waterman what drew him to Ashley’s operas:

“That’s the genius of Bob’s work,” said Mr. Waterman, in the Williamsburg apartment he shares with his wife Elisa Santiago, who performs in “Vidas Perfectas,” and their toddler son. “His idea of an opera is that it’s characters in a landscape telling stories musically.”

For Mr. Waterman, a major attraction of Ashley’s work is the idea of music as a social and collaborative process, where a less formal interpretation—like that of the performance collective Varispeed, which produced a site-specific “Perfect Lives” in the Catskills—is just as valid as Mr. Waterman’s more formal one.

“I’m interested in music not just as a way of organizing sound,” said Mr. Waterman, “but as a way of thinking about who we are when we gather together, and how we listen and speak together, and how we produce things together.”

Paul Grimstad focuses on the importance of Ashley’s Perfect Lives: A Television Opera for N+1 Magazine. An excerpt:

While the operas for television might seem yet another way in which the calculatedly outrageous became a commonplace of 20th-century art, Ashley’s work looks more like an ingenious trick of defamiliarization whereby that quaint banality “television” is transformed into a medium for opera. In the end, I think, Ashley was mostly interested in the sound of Americans talking to each other, or talking to themselves: insistent, often indistinct, never meaningless, demotic. In these voices can be heard something revelatory and strange, as if someone took the lid off life and let us see the works.

Finally, Steve Smith eulogizes Ashley in The New York Times. Finding comfort in the fact that Waterman’s new productions of Ashley’s work manage to both be faithful to Ashley’s vision while cleverly building upon them. An excerpt:

What I have appreciated most about previous reconceptions of Ashley’s operas was the extent to which newcomers found fresh possibilities. Already in “Crash,” broadened horizons were evident. Ms. Bell’s inquisitive “yeah” was not Mr. Pinto’s hipster aside. Mr. McCorkle’s stammer was more pronounced than Ms. Kidambi’s. Ms. Simons and Mr. Ruder employed distinct hues of wistfulness. If the specter of death haunted this wistful, articulate swan song, prospects of preservation and renewal were also at hand.

After extensive filming on location in Marfa, Vidas Perfectas will debut at the Whitney Biennial tomorrow, April 17, 2014. Please join us here in Far West Texas as the production returns to Marfa and El Paso from July 10-14.