Which makes it an unlikely tourist destination.
Wallace Shawn came down for the opening of one of his plays, and some of rock 'n' roll's biggest names—Yo La Tengo, Wilco, Sonic Youth—have played here.
"No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" were filmed here, which made actor Daniel Day Lewis (of the latter film) a regular jogger up and down the main drag, Highland Avenue, for a while.
"You can be having coffee and sitting next to your favorite artist," said James Scott, 26, a waiter and Marfa native who hopes to start a local theater company. "I don't know of anyplace close to this."
Marfa's strange status can be traced to one simple development: Donald Judd, one of the fathers of minimalism, moved here from New York in 1973. For years, tourists came to see Judd's work, and artists came to commune with the same wide-open spaces as did their hero.
In the mid-1990s, out-of-town investors started buying land and restoring downtown property. A bookstore was the first major business. A few restaurants and hotels, a National Public Radio affiliate and the galleries followed.
It's still largely a ranching town, but within that town exists this strange art burg that persists against the odds.
"This place changed my life the first time I came here," said Amanda Mayo, 22, a recent college graduate who works at the Chinati Foundation, the museum Judd started.
"It's just the expanse of this place and how majestic it is to be out here."