At Casa Perez, recreation and advocacy

PRESIDIO COUNTY — Follow Pinto Canyon Road (Ranch Road 2810) for about 45 miles south of Marfa and you’ll reach a remote former goat ranch where cell phones don’t work.

This is Casa Perez, part of the Ayala de Chinati ranch once owned by local artist Donald Judd and now maintained by the Judd Foundation. Judd acquired the property in the 1980s and named it after the family who once worked it.

For the past six years, it’s also been the site of “Ranch Day,” an educational and recreational event organized by the Judd Foundation.

The sixth annual Ranch Day is happening this Sunday, October 6, from 11am until 4pm.

“Ranch Day is something that the foundation’s been doing in different forms for a couple decades now,” said Caitlin Murray, director of archives and programs at the Judd Foundation. “In the last five years, we’ve made it a standalone event.”

The goal of the event, she told The Big Bend Sentinel, is to give people “a different sense of who Judd was” — especially people “coming from cities only familiar with his work in larger institutional contexts.”

Judd was more than an artist, she said. He was also a “citizen of West Texas” who “engaged in a lot of civic activities to try to keep this area safe from extraction or from nuclear dumping.”

“This is our way of making this [ranch] accessible to the community,” Murray added. “It also allows us to talk about issues that are important to Judd, largely relating to the preservation and conservation of this area and its ecological system.”

The events kick off at 11:30am, with a hike guided by caretaker Randy Sanchez.

Starting at noon, Marfa eatery Convenience West will be serving barbecue. David Branch, with “Honky Tonk Happy Hour” on Marfa Public Radio, is providing music.

At 1:30pm, Dr. Patricia Harveson, a professor at Sul Ross University and an endowed chair for Conservation Biology with the Borderlands Research Institute, will be giving a talk on mountain lions.

A key part of Ranch Day is the guest speaker, Murray said. Past speakers have included geologists and historians of the region.

Casa Perez, added Murray, is a place where “mountain lions thankfully still live. If you go to the Dallas Museum of Art, you might not necessarily encounter a mountain lion.”