Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist. She was known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O’Keeffe has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”.
Self Portrait and her hands
O’Keeffe spent the fall of 1934 in New Mexico, and it was then that she discovered Ghost Ranch, a dude ranch in a spectacular desert setting, some 20 miles (32 km) north of the village of Abiquiu. This is where my connection to her comes in. I’ve known her paintings for many years, so when I went on my own spiritual quest to Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico, I visited many special places along my route.
Abiquiu has a famous Benedictine Monk retreat. These monks do script work for the Vatican. Their beautiful “Abiquiu in the Desert” retreat sits along the Chama River dotted with aspens and cottonwoods and has a chapel and the twelve stations of the cross in the rock outcroppings above it. Completely off-grid, they have solar power, a well-maintained garden and monks who will answer questions in the bookstore. Just up the road from the main turnoff to the Benedictines retreat, sits Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keefe’s beloved home, now run by the Presbyterian Church. They also use it as a retreat and which also contains a museum of O’Keefe’s paintings, guided tours of her studio, and a gift shop. Santa Fe has the formal O’Keefe Museum and research center. Walking the property, you get an idea of her inspirations, in the abstract. The light and shadows fill the spaces.
Ms. O’Keefe lived a very creative life by teaching and traveling. Besides her love of the Southwest, she spent much of her life traveling to places like Peru and Mount Fiji, Japan.
In 2014, O’Keeffe’s 1932 painting Jimson Weed, pictured above, sold for $44,405,000, more three times the previous world auction record for any female artist. In 2007, O’Keefe received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The best way to honor Ms. O’Keefe is with her paintings. I have selected those that display her early works in New York to her vivid flowers, which she was most famous for. You can read more about her life in the attached link. The work speaks for itself.
Georgia’s use of color is unmatched. Her paintings conjure a sexuality in the vividness and movement. She was given this space in time to thrive, to be exactly who she was meant to be. Lucky us to be the beneficiaries of her talents. If you are ever in the Santa Fe or Abiquiu areas, be sure to see her work up close and personal. It will fill your soul with gladness that you did.