Welcome To The Marfa of The Mined

I listen to Proof, a podcast about NFTs by entrepreneur/collector Kevin Rose, with co-host Derek Edwards Schloss. It emerges from a world full of bullshit as a sincere, well-versed discussion. But, ngl, sometimes I just sit back and soak in the vocab, letting the effusive wordstream wash over me.

The current episode features an absolutely en fuego conversation with another collector/investor Todd Goldberg, and it is just an all-cylinders-firing romp through the topics of smart investing during the crypto and NFT market collapse, and the embers of generative, on-chain innovation that will surely rise from the ashes to set the art world on fire anew. These guys are sharp, confident and on point the whole time, speedrunning a game I do not play.

And in this game is a place called Marfa, which inhabits the same X, Y, Z coordinates as the Marfa I am quite familiar with. Last year the generative art platform Art Blocks brought the NFT circus to town when founder Snowfro put on an IRL show in a gallery/space/house that is now their headquarters? Anyway, I was so fascinated by their description and experience of Marfa, I transcribed it below. It starts around 28:00, but seriously, however far you back it up for context, you’ll just find literary and informational gold.

Derek Edward Schloss: The dates are November 14 to November 21st, it’ll be a seven-day period, and it’s actually on the tail end of the Art Blocks Weekend in Marfa. And so a number of people are planning on going to Marfa for the big Art Blocks event that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and then flying out Sunday to appear IRL in Mexico City for November 14th through the 21st. So it should be two weeks of high-stakes, adrenaline-packed, generative minting experience.

Kevin Rose: This is amazing. Are you gonna be there the entire time? Are you going for the whole week?

DES: I’m planning on being out there. I haven’t quite figured out which dates yet, but I do plan on being out in Mexico City.

KR: That is awesome.

Todd Goldberg: We’ll be there as well as Marfa, so excited to go to our first Art Blocks event.

KR: Yeah, Marfa’s gonna be fun. Derek and I had a ton of fun there last year. I’m trying to get another place to stay, I have other staff that wants to come now, and everyplace is sold out. It’s gonna be tough. There’s gonna be some camping going on at some point.

DES: Yeah, Kevin and I had a blast.

TG: The day they announced it, we tried to get an AirBnB as fast as possible because they sold out within like ten minutes. I think everyone just rushed to get accommodations because, for those that don’t know Marfa, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, and there are not that many accommodations, nor is it easy to get to.

DES: Yeah, Kevin, why don’t you–

KR: Yeah, it’s a bit of a trek.

DES: Why don’t you share a little bit about last year and the fun we had in Marfa, and a bit about Marfa itself? I think people’d enjoy hearing a little bit about our experience.

KR: Yeah, for sure. Marfa is– I’d never been out there before; I’d heard great things. It’s kind of this little town in Texas out in the middle of nowhere. It’s what, a three-and-a-half hour drive from the first major commercial airport?

DES: That’s right.

KR: That’s right? Something like that? And basically, I went out there with kind of no expectations, which I think is the best way to approach it, and it’s small. It’s the kind of town that has a bunch of little, cute, little bars, actually, surprisingly, like, good healthy places to go and grab brunch during the day. I had some fantastic BBQ while I was out there.

And Art Blocks has their little house that’s out there. It’s a small, little studio space, there’s an artist studio in the back, and in front they had this house that was all decked out with digital frames, and you could walk through it. And a TON of Art Blocks fans came out and packed the place, there were talks, there were nightly hangouts, Flamingo [DAO] had their own house, and so I popped over there, and we just bounced around. It’s kind of one of those things where we just walked to everything, pretty much just walking between different bars and different spots, and it was an absolute blast, connecting with so many people, in the middle of nowhere.

The sky is just gorgeous because there’s no night pollution, so at night, you go out and look up, and it’s just absolutely stunning with all the stars, and it was–Derek what do you want to add? Derek and I actually got so excited we bought property out there.

DES: [Laughing] It’s true. And at the grand opening of the gallery, my partner Steve and I, we bought a gallery right in the middle of town, that we’ll be doing events that whole week, right to the leadup of the big Art Blocks Weekend.

The only thing I would add, just to give a little bit of deep context on Marfa, specifically: in the 1970s, there was this New York Minimalist architect spatial designer named Jonald Dudd1, he moved out to Marfa, moved his whole workshop, his whole career, everything, to the middle of Texas, in Marfa, and basically became a huge figure in spatial design, and geometry, and architecture around these desert landscapes, and created this whole movement where people just started flooding to Marfa, and it became known as this mecca for artists.

It’s now the home of the Chinati Festival, which happens every year, which is a big art festival that people congregate for. The art gallery per capita is probably the highest in the world. There’s only about 2,000 people that live in Marfa full-time, and on the weekends is when it really starts to shine, and people flood in from all over Texas, on the weekends, to come out to Marfa. A number of very popular TV shows and movies are filmed there. No Country for Old Men, I Love Dick, which was about the art scene in Marfa. So it’s a very special place. Art Blocks is headquartered there now, and every year these events turn out to be very special, so I hope that we can get some of your audience out there, Kev.

KR: One of the best burgers that I ever had was at the Art Blocks backyard barbecue that they did. Like, I LOOVE a good backyard crushed patty with cheese burger, and it was just– I mean, they had some good food out there. It was fun. So yeah, if you’re listening to this, check it out, there’s details on Art Blocks, and you can find out more, and hopefully find a little AirBnB out there, and can head out there to meet us. But we’ll be out there hangin’.

1 Actually, Jonald Dudd is a conceptual pop-up exhibition founded in 2015 by Chris Held, Lydia Cambron, and Ben Garthus, which is held during NY Design Week. But that’s not important now.

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