So recently I had the opportunity to visit Georgia O'Keeffe's home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It has been a long time in coming! You see for a Native New Mexican there can be deep resentment over her presence here due to the fact that New Mexico did not seem to exist on the map until her arrival and subsequent kinship with the state. And if I had a dime for every person who told me they moved to New Mexico or visited Abiquiui and O'Keeffe's home because, "I want to paint like O'Keeffe," let's just say that I would have a lot of dimes!
It was while taking an American Art History class in undergrad that I unexpectedly came to appreciate O'Keeffe. The fact that she dabbled in clay and loved it was a plus! Many of these vessels are in fact scattered throughout her home. Although I must suggest that the potential pilgrim should take the "Behind the Scenes" tour ($60.00) on Friday evenings if at all possible. This tour provides access to O'Keeffe's workroom storage, the famous room behind the black door, and O'Keeffe's fallout shelter and will allow you to see her private quarters and her bedroom, which are roped off for the standard ($30.00) tour .
Art History classes are about papers; researching a particular period presumably acquaints one with the socio-economic, spiritual, and political milieu of the era that produced the artist and subsequent art. I was actually interested in one of O'Keeffe's mentors, Arthur Wesley Dow and his book "Composition" as a research project. I also wanted to write about a work I could see in the flesh and not in a book. As fate would have it the University of New Mexico had a watercolor painting of O'Keeffe's, Tent Door at Night. I thought it would be a good exercise to write about the work of an artist I wasn't overly fond of. Shockingly enough I found that O'Keeffe's painting was oddly similar to a woodblock in Dow's book, pg.94 in case you are interested. I later learned from my professor at the time that I was not the first to make this discovery (darn!).
It was what I later learned through my research about O'Keeffe's philosophy that made me appreciate her and her work. She once said that "Sometimes I wish I lived in a tent and every morning I would open the flaps and let the wind blow through and clean everything out." (Paraphrased!) I found this refeshingly simple and at one time or another when life gets particularly hectic this statement becomes incredibly relevant to me and lovers of nature. If your ever in New Mexico, Santa Fe or Abiquiu visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and arrange a tour of her home. Tours can also be scheduled online. You won't be disappointed! Matthew Scott Drake was our tour guide and will be presumably during the 2015 season. Matthew was very knowledgable and overall fabulous.
No photos are allowed of O'Keeffe's home, inside or out so I've included photos from our hike through Plaza Blanca, The White Place that O'Keeffe loved to paint and hike and one of Abiquiu Lake. The area itself which we have visited numerous times is gorgeous, fun to hike and yes it is conducive to creativity, so bring your camera, watercolors, pastels if you so desire or simply enjoy and bask in the sunshine!
For more information on O'Keeffe and her work check out Artsy. The Artsy will give you links to more articles and listings on O'Keeffe exhibitions and images of her work that I cannot supply in this blog. Enjoy!