July 8, 2020 535 PM
This is an open letter to Simone Rubi of Do Your Thing coffee shop and to the managers of Marfa Group on Facebook. On June 24, I was approached by a video production company to request use of my property for a commercial. I agreed. After further discussion, I also agreed to do construction and painting of an America-themed mural. I completed it on the 28th, and the video was made on the 29th. It was hard work to meet their deadline, and I was proud of my work. On the 30th, Ms. Rubi created a post pretending to ask if the installation was permanent. Her business is across the street. I say pretend because after more than 70 comments over 24 hours, including one suggesting arson, Ms. Rubi commented, “I haven’t deleted my post because I’m letting y’all talk it out :-).” Here she clearly stated her true intention of trying to stir up conflict and division in Marfa. The post was deleted around 10:30 p.m. on July 1. My building was vandalized later that night. Does anybody else see the hypocrisy of her using social media to bully me for doing MY thing?
A police report has been filed along with screen shots of the comments. I encourage the vandal(s) to speak with the Marfa Police Department, and it will not be prosecuted. I was just the contractor. I never spoke with the creative director. Your interpretation of the art is as good as mine. I see a symbol of our nation with a population of 328 million, and I see a message about the unity of every American in these trying times. I ask those of you intent on sowing division in this community to use your talents in more constructive ways. As you know, children are being held in cages a couple hours away.
To the people responsible for Marfa Group, I ask you to re-evaluate how you use your forum. You allowed a post, clearly in violation of your own rule number 3, to remain for 24 hours. You tarnish the good name of Marfa by allowing Marfa Group to promote hate speech and arson. By the way, speech that incites imminent lawless action is not protected under the First Amendment. I hold Ms. Rubi and Marfa Group responsible for creating the negative climate that resulted in vandalism; fortunately it was spray paint and not fire. These are trying times in our nation. I am sad to see the negativity and division from our capital spread in Marfa. I ask for, and will try to practice, more kindness toward neighbors.
I am writing this letter to the editor to stress the importance of why public libraries are an essential part of a community. Libraries are important cornerstones of a healthy community. Libraries give people the opportunity to find jobs, explore medical research, experience new ideas and get lost in wonderful stories, while at the same time being a safe place to be.
The City of Presidio Library reflects the diversity and character and the needs and expectations of our community. Those needs and expectations are often extensive and the services invaluable.
The City of Presidio Library is often the only readily available source of comprehensive information needed by people for personal, family and job-related purposes. Our community’s economy benefits when businesspeople use the library resources to make wise business decisions, employees use it to improve job skills or the disadvantaged use it to help break the cycle of poverty. During economic hardship, our citizens turn to and depend on the library.
The City of Presidio Library is the only library available to school children, from preschoolers to children of all ages; it is simply the only library available to the public when the public school is closed. College students often use the library when they are home for the weekend or for the holidays. And the reference resources in public libraries are usually unavailable elsewhere in the community. We strive to provide to the community the best possible resources, and if we don’t have what you are needing, we have our inter-library loan services free of charge. The library has been used as a testing site for government officials, as we have a very positive working relationship with our local Border Patrol in Presidio (who volunteer to provide programming during our summer reading programs), The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Fort Leaton State Historic Site, Presidio ISD, the Consulate of Mexico in Presidio, the U.S. Census Bureau, and many other public businesses that use our resources and have volunteered to assist me with the children’s reading programs held throughout the year.
Our city library is a unique and valuable resource. It is a lifeline to the world and all the information in it. While libraries do not generate income for the city, it provides services to the taxpayers in the community, as taxpayers sponsor the library’s existence.The local taxes paid by the citizens of Presidio provide the funding for our services to the community. Yet we struggle to keep up with the many changes in technology, rising costs in books and other materials, staff and budget shortages and a growing demand from our customers for more information. As community leaders, I ask you to please make a commitment to your library and to library services for all. The intellectual and economic health of our community depends on it.
I would like to acknowledge our city mayor, Mr. John Ferguson, and mayor pro tem, Mr. Alcee Tavarez, city council members: Mr. Rogelio Zubia, Mr. Irwin Olivas, Mr. Antonio Manriquez, former council member Samuel Carrasco, our city administrator, Mr. Joe Portillo, city finance director Ms. Glorissel Muniz and all other city administrative staff for all their support during this tough economic time dealing with the COVID-19 issues, and for protecting our community as decision-makers for the City of Presidio in a positive professional manner. The City of Presidio remains closed to the public as per the COVID emergency closure policy in place, most area libraries remain closed to the public and some continue to provide a curbside service as their operating budget allows. We look forward to serving you once again in the near future.
Ms. Carmen Elguezabal, library director
City of Presidio Library
Behind Closed Doors
On March 14, 2020, we closed the doors of the Marfa and Presidio County Museum to the public to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. During this period, when we could not be open to our community of supporters near and far, we have been using our “downtime” very purposefully. When it is safe to reopen, there will be many improvements to share with our visitors. For now, we can share some of the exciting things accomplished while we work behind closed doors.
A significant portion of the museum’s revenue stream comes from proceeds from the Museum Thrift Store and donations from visitors to the museum. We are pleased to report that this income loss, while we have been closed, has been greatly tempered by generous agencies, allowing us to keep our employees working and the lights on without depleting our humble resources. We thank the City of Marfa for the second installment of a HOT grant awarded last fall – THANK YOU! We are also grateful to the CARES Act which allowed us to apply for a Payroll Protection Plan loan to keep employees working and a roof over the thrift store. We successfully met the terms of loan forgiveness, essentially turning this PPP loan into a grant. A big thanks to Marfa National Bank for helping us to secure this loan! Finally, we are pleased to announce a COVID Relief Grant from Humanities Texas and The National Endowment for the Humanities that will help us to cover payroll, rent and utilities through the summer. All of this support is truly inspiring and deeply appreciated.
We have been busy putting these funds to good use both at the museum and the thrift store. At the museum, we have taken this time to reconsider and refresh some of our permanent galleries, clean and reorganize our collection and storage facilities, and create an online accession database. Hannah Marshall, the Chinati Foundation archivist and a Marfa Museum board member, has continued to generously volunteer her time to make progress on a project to examine the museum’s archives and prepare a needs assessment. We are working with local artist Gretchen Coles on an installation project that we hope will include participation from Marfa students this fall as well as working in collaboration with the National Archives to present a small exhibition on women’s suffrage, also hopefully in the fall. We have continued to take donations at the thrift store and our hardworking team has plugged away cleaning, organizing and arranging the many items donated to us. In related news, the thrift store will be moving to a new home in the near future. The location is yet to be determined, but we will keep you all informed on our website (marfamuseum.org), on Instagram (@marfamuseum) and on Facebook (Marfa and Presidio County Museum) as things develop.
We wish you all a happy, healthy and safe summer!
Your friends at the Marfa and Presidio County Museum and the Museum Thrift Store