Wednesday, April 23, 2008

O'Keeffe Country

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-RanchEarlier this month, I took a drive north with a friend up to Abiquiu and beyond. We lunched at the Abiquiu Inn, and then drove to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted in the summer months for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1934. Ghost Ranch has a long and colorful history which is well and thoroughly covered by Lesley Poling-Kempes in her 2005 book Ghost Ranch. It was a dude ranch at the time O'Keeffe began her life there, and is now a Presbyterian retreat and conference center.

In the early 2000s an exhibit was developed for the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which displayed paintings of O'Keeffe's in conjunction with photographs taken from the same vantage point. In 2004, these paintings and corresponding photographs were juxtaposed in a book entitled Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place.

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-RanchAfter the exhibit and the publication of the book, the Ghost Ranch was besieged with questions on how to find the locations shown in the paintings and photographs. Many of the vantage points were in areas of the property not open to tourists. But it didn't take long for the Ranch to figure out that there was a great opportunity here, and they started a twice a week ($25 a head) van tour which drives down by O'Keeffe's house on the property and shows visitors her "front yard" and "back yard" views.

It was a middling kind of day--windy and a bit cloudy, so the quality of my photographs isn't quite up to exhibit work! But I've included a few photos and a few paintings to give you an idea of the day and its significance.

The photo above is of O'Keeffe's residence at the Ranch, El Rancho de Los Burros. Of the flat-topped mountain, Pedernal, which she painted many times, and which you can see in two paintings and a photo below, she said: "It's my private mountain. God told me if I painted it often enough, I could have it."

Here are a few of the Georgia O'Keeffe Ghost Ranch paintings completed between 1937-1945:

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch

And my photos, April 2008:

O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch
O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, Ghost-Ranch

3 comments:

Sharon said...

I enjoyed your post and especially the pictures you took inspired by the paintings. Thanks for sharing!
~Sharon
http://e14studio.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html

SantaFeKate said...

Sharon--it's so clear how inspired she must have been by these vistas when you stand where she stood all those years ago. What a contrast to the canyons of Manhattan!!

Rick Beyer said...

I spent some time in Europe earlier this year to scout locations for my documentary film The Ghost Army. (http://www.ghostarmy.org) I was able to locate a half dozen vantage points in places such as Trevieres, Briey, Verdun and Triere where Ghost Army artists painted and sketched during World War II. It is wonderful to be able able to process backward like that, to see what inspired the artist, and also what the artist was able to add to the scene. Plus the little chill of knowing you are standing where they did when they froze their view of that scene on their canvas.

Wicked cool.