12 March 2009

A Place Different

"When I got to New Mexico, that was mine. As soon as I saw it, that was my country. I'd never seen anything like it before but it fitted to me exactly. It's something that's in the air. It's different. The sky is different. The stars are different. The wind is different. I shouldn't say too much about this, 'cause other people may get interested and I don't want them interested.”

Georgia O’Keefe (c.1977 PBS Documentary)

Georgia O'Keeffe in Abiquiu, New Mexico, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950.

I don’t remember when I first saw or read this but I know I did, because around this time, I became fascinated with O’Keefe. Different was what I craved and understood. I read anything that was written about her, studied her art and wondered about this place called New Mexico.

I stared at the paintings at the Met and MOMA trying to understand the place and the images that exploded from O’Keefe’s canvases. Images composed using a modern chiaroscuro, light and dark, combining realism with abstraction.

It wasn’t the first time I heard about this amazing place.

D.H. Lawrence visited Mabel Dodge Luhan at Ghost Ranch and ended up owning a ranch some 20 miles north of Taos. While he spent less than a year in New Mexico, he said of that time,” I think New Mexico was the greatest experience I ever had from the outside world. It certainly changed me forever.”

Georgia O’Keefe spent nearly twenty years traveling back and forth from New York to New Mexico, until in the late forties after the death of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, she came, at 42, to stay until she died at 98.

So twenty years later, after returning home from Italy, I established my first rule for an orderly re-entry back into reality.

Begin planning the next big adventure!

Something about the art, the antiquities, the culture and the landscape of Italy, a place firmly placed in my imagination but yet, so considerably different from the culture of America compelled me to pick up my books on O’Keefe and begin the a study of this place she called home.

The following is a link to the interview above:


Note : You will need to pause the music to hear Georgia speak.

Just listening to it makes me smile—let me know what you think!


Ruth said...

I'm very glad I watched the video, thank you for sharing it. I love her last line especially about thinking it would paint itself for you, and then you try, and it isn't easy.

What you wrote about Italy, and then wanting to explore O'Keefe's place, and how I feel about Paris, and now about my farm - it all shows how the character of a place is like a friend, but more. What vibrations and energies pull us in so strongly? They're undeniable and real, but impossible to define.

magpie said...

Thanks so much for this link. At Ghost Ranch the land around the house O'Keeffe lived in is one of the most exquisite places i've ever been. It makes me glad just knowing it's there, overseen by the pedernal, Georgia's pedernal.



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