May 30, 2019 500 AM
MARFA – Agave-themed academia, art, and alcohol, plus a pool party with the legendary Cheech Marin kick off day one of the third annual Agave Festival, which begins Saturday in Marfa. The homegrown festival, which runs a whopping nine days, celebrates the agave plant and “its influence on culture through food, film, music and science.”
Agave Festival’s schedule packs in lectures, conversations, tastings, parties, exhibitions, and more, and the festival strives to keep most of the events completely free of charge. The nine-day celebration covers a lot of ground, so here is your guide for the first five days. .
Conversations and lectures
The festival launches at 2pm on Saturday, June 1 with “Mayahuel Meets Guadalupe: Ecology of Faith and Practice in the Borderlands” at the Crowley Theater, where artists Santa Barraza, Kay Turner and Josh Franco discuss agave-related spirituality, and the traditions of Indigenous and Catholic religions, especially the iconography and worship of Mayahuel and La Virgen de Guadalupe.
The three artists will reunite Sunday evening to lead a procession to the site in Marfa where an apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in the 1990s. To this day, the event is commemorated by an altar.
Just before the Sunday evening procession, Josh Franco will hold a talk with Cheech Marin, who, aside from being one half of comedy duo Cheech & Chong, is a preeminent collector and advocate of Chicano art, as well as a mezcal enthusiast. Tuesday’s sole event is a reading at Crowley Theater from Big Bend local David Keller, who will reveal the natural history and archaeology of the Chinati Mountains and Pinto Canyon, and the historic Prieto family.
It wouldn’t be a Marfa festival without a connection to Donald Judd. Tony Berlant, an expert on Navajo textiles, who worked with Judd on his personal collection of Navajo blankets, will round out the Thursday schedule with a talk about Mimbre ceramics—elaborate New Mexican indigenous vessels, of which Berlant curated a show in Los Angeles last year. Berlant will consider their possible botanical basis, and share the ceramic tradition.
Legendary comedian Cheech Marin welcomes attendees to a pool party at Bar Nadar June 1, which begins at 7pm, and features Marfa local guest chef and grill master, Delfin Lopez. The event is open to the public and free, with food and drink specials available from open to midnight close. The following night, Monday, DJs Gaby and Zeke will spin records while GEM&BOLT Mezcal hosts a party at Bar Nadar.
Meals and tastings
Cochineal will host a 10:30am brunch and shopping market on June 2, which is open to the public, with reservations encouraged. A wine tasting that afternoon at Stellina will highlight Mexican-made wines, with appetizers available until they’re gone.
To get into the agave spirit, make a reservation Monday evening at Cochineal for a special ticketed dinner with Cinco Sentidos Mezcal.
Art, film, and music
300 S. Kelly St. hosts a cross-border collaborative art exhibition by Zoe Leonard and Dolores Dorantes entitled “El Rio / The River,” opening Saturday evening. The Crowley Theater will host a ticketed ($10) concert for guitarist William Tyler Monday night, with an after party by GEM&BOLT Mezcal at Bar Nadar. Pedro Jimenez has dedicated his career to the preservation of traditional agave-making. On Wednesday, he will present “Viva Mezcal,” a film screening, with a Q&A and mezcal tasting to follow.
A botanical garden tour at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute will delight visitors with the biodiversity of the Big Bend, and will be led by local landscape designer Jim Martinez on Monday morning.
The agave plant is distinctly tied to the indigenous people of this region, and Fernando Palma Rodriguez will host a Nahua language workshop at Ballroom Marfa on Wednesday.