Friday, May 6, 2011

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum & Ghost Ranch

I had the privilege of visiting the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and seeing the O'Keeffiana: Art and Art Materials exhibit recently. The museum is situated in downtown Santa Fe, which I must say has excellent weather this time of year.

Seeing O'Keeffe's art materials in person is a strange experience. Here are these things - mostly pastels and oil stored humbly in her husband's tackle box and other modest containers; nothing abnormally special - and in this rudimentary form they created some of the most beautiful and notable art of the American Southwest.

I also got to visit the famous Ghost Ranch, where O'Keeffe lived and worked for nearly fifty years.

It is easy to see why she loved this environment. One characteristic of O'Keeffe's paintings was that she oftentimes focused on small portions of a subject, magnifying it to epic proportions. I don't believe the motive for this approach can be fully realized without visiting the territory in person. Ghost Ranch is a place that not only looks big, but feels big. Overwhelmingly big. The features themselves are not what create this feeling so much as the contrast of said features against their inactive and comparatively dead surroundings.

Georgia O'Keeffe's home/studio at Ghost Ranch still has her ladder propped up against its adobe walls. It is said that whenever she would have guests, they would always be made to climb up the ladder onto the roof where they would talk and take in the view. The ladder also made an appearance in her 1958 painting, Ladder to the Moon.

I highly recommend touring both the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe and Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu.