Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Discoveries in Santa Fe: Georgia O'Keefe

In the time leading up to my trip to Santa Fe, I felt drawn to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. This was, for a couple of reasons, strange. One: normally I associate Georgia O'Keefe with her close-up paintings of flowers and while they are nice, they were never among my absolute favorites. Two: I've been going to Santa Fe for a little while now and I've discovered that, while there are some good museums, I'm more interested in spending time in historical or sometimes outdoor places (which sometimes are museums, but distinct from buildings that simply hold exhibits). Three: no one else was interested in going.

But we did have a free day planned (it was a short trip, so we kind of had to keep to a schedule most of the time). So after wandering around the Plaza for a bit, we split up and I went to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum and Kakawa Chocolate House (I'll post on that one later). And I think I discovered why I knew I was meant to go there.

Going there was a reminder of the life that I can live.

I'm not calling myself Georgia O'Keefe; I'm just saying that she was an inspired person and I would like to be, as well. I didn't watch the museum's film on her life because I didn't actually have too much free time, but I did read the text in the exhibit rooms. The paintings were grouped by theme, it seemed. Some of the abstract work was in the first room, where I was enthralled by Pond in the Woods. It's basically a circle, with more circles around it--all in blue, brown, and green. But it's absolutely fascinating and beautiful and amazing to see in person. The shapes and the shades and the sense of scenery and atmosphere; she really did capture the feeling of a pond in the woods. I don't usually care for abstract art, so I was surprised how much I connected with hers and how much it made sense to me.

I was also quite fond of her Winter Tree. And her picture of Machu Picchu was quite nice, as well. It was just something entirely different to see her work in person--and also different because there weren't very many flowers. So I saw a lot of things that I, at least, had never seen before.

Back to the theming. From what I gather, Georgia O'Keefe was a woman who saw beauty in the natural world and in the everyday world and wanted to capture the essence of that beauty in her work. She wanted to find new ways to record and new ways to translate and new ways to capture. And she was redefining the ways in which you could represent certain places--specifically the Southwest. She was doing exactly what I want to do with my writing: capturing the visuals of the Southwest unhindered by genre constraints. She painted her Southwest. This concept is very much evident not only in her landscapes but also in her skull paintings.

And there were some photographs of her, as well. In her garden. Sorting through vegetables she'd grown. That sort of thing. Oh, that is a life lived. To appreciate the world around us and to take part in it and to care for it and to capture it in artistic representation. I walked away from the museum truly inspired.

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