We know Marfa, TX is the coolest, artiest place name to drop these days, and there’s a reason behind that, as Stephanie and I discovered this week.

We went to Center 548, a venue for art and culture created by the Elizabeth Dee Gallery for the Ballroom Marfa Benefit.  Created in 2003, Ballroom Marfa is a center for the public’s exploration of contemporary art located in the converted dance hall of a sleepy Texas town.  Its coolness has attracted the attention of the international art elite– a fact that was fully evidenced by their first NYC fundraiser last Tuesday.  It was truly a sight to behold.

A photo from the famous art installation, Prada Marfa

The Ballroom Marfa Building, a former dance hall

We entered through the venue’s awesome freight elevator, which set the tone for the edgy experience to follow….

Upon entry...

Front and center, an installation of a woman sitting in a chair, rotated 90 degrees, and hanging from the ceiling served as the initial eye candy.  As event people, we thought about insurance, but the fastening was secure thanks to the team of art professionals who put the event together.

We hope she was meditating...or something.

The vibe was casual, not overproduced, a haven for the art world elite that like the Texas town, was totally relaxed.  MF Productions worked closely with the inimitable Fairfax Dorn, Virginia Leberman, and their Board to run the show, raise lots of money and make it all super-fun in the process.  It was a room filled with people who could take themselves seriously not taking themselves seriously.

Jen and Stephanie: Cocktails and Art

Stephanie almost cried with joy when we arrived at the bar to find a lineup of Casa Dragones tequila arranged in beautiful bottles and a fleet of bartenders from Silkstone Catering ready to pour it.  If it hasn’t been brought up on this blog before, Stephanie is a tequila aficionado, and Casa Dragones, a “sipping tequila,” is one of her favorites.

Casa Dragones, a "sipping tequila"

Tequilas in hand, we browsed the silent auction and caught up with some friends and even some past clients.  Larry Bamburg’s “Bone Stack #10, Turkey to Chicken to Rock Cornish Game Hen, Shown in Sea Mist, Tent-poled” was a favorite for making a virtual turducken look like a delicate stem in a vase.  Absurd, awesome, beautiful.

Bone Stack #10, Turkey to Chicken to Rock Cornish Game Hen, shown in Sea Mist, Tent-poled, 2011

We moved upstairs for dinner, where long rectangular tables were grouped around a colorful stage, and an even more colorful plate of farm fresh food courtesy of Silkstone (also known for their heavenly restaurant, The Fat Radish) awaited us.  The dinner experience had us doubly charmed by Brits: Silkstone’s Philip Winser (not to neglect the charming American Jamie DuMont), and the witty, debonair auctioneer Alexander Gilkes, who rumor has it, is being groomed to succeed his boss, Simon de Pury.

Alexander Gilkes of Phillips de Pury

There is no energy better than that of a live auction with a charming auctioneer and a cool, ready-to-spend crowd.  Pieces by major names such as Leo Villareal (who also did the light installation at our neighbor, BAM), Matthew Day Jackson and Aaron Curry flew off the metaphorical shelves at a frenzied pace, raising money that will go to enable other artists to innovate and create in Marfa.

Peter Doig's Rear View Mirror, 1994

We moved back downstairs for the after-party, still sippin’ that sipping tequila for a special performance by Andrew Wyatt and Pontus Winnberg of Miike Snow, the super-hip, super-Swedish, indie-pop band.  So cool, they looked like an art installation themselves and kept the crowd dancing, drinking tequila, and popping delectable sweets proffered by Silkstone until….well, long after we went home.

Miike Snow