Living in the Moment: Georgia O’Keefe and Clouds #MondayBlogs #GeorgiaOKeefe

If you’re new to my blog and want to know how this road trip began, click here for the first post. For our time in Casper, Wyoming, click here. For our experience with the Total Solar Eclipse, click here. For our drive through Colorado (aka the drive from Hell) and the oasis also known as Trinidad, click here. This will be my last post on our great adventure to see the Total Solar Eclipse among other things.

Our stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was a welcome respite from the fairly hectic traveling and anxiety-ridden anticipation of the Total Solar Eclipse that took place the first half of our road trip. Once we were in Santa Fe, we chilled. We relaxed. We drank coffee every morning on the quiet patio.

The patio where we had our morning coffee.

We walked to Whole Foods, replenishing our snack stock and buying ingredients for at least one nice meal at “home.” We walked to restaurants that were nestled in and among private residences. We walked to the plaza and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.

I’ve been a fan of O’Keefe for a long time, admiring the woman as well as her art. She always impressed me as being stoic and unconcerned with the opinion of others. She would do her art regardless. In reflecting on her transition to the artist she became, she wrote:

This was one of the best times in my life. There was no one around to look at what I was doing — no one interested — no one to say anything about it one way or another. I was alone and singularly free, working into my own, unknown — no one to satisfy but myself (emphasis mine).

As a writer I struggle with the tension between satisfying readers and satisfying myself. It’s not always the same thing.

Another aspect of O’Keefe that I’m drawn is to her humility. I’m not saying she was a humble person. I don’t think it’s possible to be both humble and world famous. The ego won’t allow it. But she had humility in that she knew her celebrity was the product of chance. She once said, and I have to paraphrase because I haven’t been able to find the quote, that she just happened to be in the right place at the right time. If she had been born at another time, perhaps her art would not be celebrated. It was all timing. Well, talent and vision, too, but without timing …

The Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe is a wonderful place, small, but full of O’Keefe’s life work and then some.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On our second full day in Sante Fe, my husband wanted to do a time lapse … of something, anything! As you might remember from a previous post, his efforts to do a time lapse of the Milky Way over Hell’s Half Acre failed. In order to do a proper nighttime time lapse, you need clear skies; even out in the western states, clear nights can be hard to come by. You’re at the mercy of Nature so you learn to take what you can get. We set out for the mountains, specifically Hyde Memorial State Park. The first part of the drive took us through a strange landscape of Flintstone-like mansions. Ah, we thought, here’s where the wealthy live, in their adobe bubbles. I am so bored with the uber-rich these days I can’t be bothered wasting my iPhone’s battery life on pictures of their overly expensive, tacky compounds so … nothing to see here.

Finally, we entered the park and found a decent turnout with enough of a gap between the trees for Greg to get a clear view of the sky. While he fiddled with his photography, I took my own pictures and played with stones.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think it was at this point when I remarked to Greg that I had probably spent more time outdoors on this trip than I had the previous half year in Florida. I exaggerate but the sentiment is true. Regardless of the time of day or night, on this trip I was never beset with bloodsucking mosquitoes, skin-burrowing chiggers, or biting ants. I would live in the moment without having to swat away flying insects or scratch myself raw. Saying goodbye to the west was not going to be easy.

On our last night, just to make it harder on myself, I looked up at the sky as we walked back from dinner  …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saying goodbye had to happen. As it turned out, that was a good thing since Hurricane Harvey was on the path to wreaking havoc and destruction. We had planned to go home via Dallas, Texas. Instead it was the Texas Panhandle, then Oklahoma, Missouri ever so briefly and, finally, the long slog through Alabama.

It was a good trip overall and even though I don’t like to drive, I will definitely be more than willing to drive back to Santa Fe or even Trinidad the first chance we get. Santa Fe is my new dream city (sorry, San Francisco) and Trinidad is my new dream affordable city.

Thanks for riding along with me on this great adventure. Regular sporadic programming will now resume.



32 thoughts on “Living in the Moment: Georgia O’Keefe and Clouds #MondayBlogs #GeorgiaOKeefe

  1. Awesome pics and it sounds like an awesome trip. Georgia O. is one of the people I wish I could go back in time and meet (the others are Frida K. and Emily D.). Imagine sitting in the New Mexico dusk and talking with Georgia about life and love and art. Oh, if only! Glad you got to enjoy her vibes while you were there. And I love what you wrote: “As a writer I struggle with the tension between satisfying readers and satisfying myself. It’s not always the same thing.” OMG, yes, yes, yes.

  2. I thought the O’Keeffe museum was especially well done given it’s smaller size. I also made it out to Ghost Ranch during my Sante Fe trip. She is such an inspiration. Right now, I’m in the process of re-doing my living room coffee and end tables with a distressed paint finish and the tops of all three will be decoupaged images of her art work.

  3. Sounds like it was a wonderful journey. My husband told me he has a conference next year in Santa Fe. I’d love to go. Never been to that part of the country, so I think I’ll join him.

  4. Marvelous again, Marie. Wow! My interest lately has turned to Santa Fe too (I now must investigate Trinidad though). I wanted to be in Las Cruces (far southern end of NM), but I’ve learned the air quality has gotten horrible… Then I learned the same bad air problem for the Phoenix, AZ area (that is my “logical” choice, because of jobs)… I love Santa Fe, but it gets so much snow in the winter… Sigh. It’s always something, isn’t it. Hugs on the wing!

    • Hugs back at ya, Teagan! One of my cousins lives in Las Cruces with his family. We thought about visiting but it was too far off the path of our trip. I’m hoping with our next trip we’ll have time to travel around New Mexico. Yes, it’s always something. And these days it seems like that “something” are natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, fires. I don’t mind snow but it’s been years … well, decades since I actually had to get around in snow. I should look to see how much snow Santa Fe gets. Trinidad is a lot smaller, I think less than 10,000 people live there. But it’s only 4 hours from Santa Fe and that stretch of I25 was really lovely. Also they have an Amtrak station. Big plus in my book 😉

  5. Such gorgeous photos! I’m glad we came along. Georgia O’Keefe’s art is so fascinating! I’m also a fan of Ansel Adams. 🙂

    Is it hard to come back after such a memorable trip?

  6. I’m so happy that you had such a wonderful time, Marie! Those pests you mentioned: is that what they have in Florida? I thought it was alligators! Ewww. But in the west there are rattlesnakes and scorpions and stuff like that. So nice outside as long as you don’t camp in a tent (IMO). About Georgia O’Keefe, do you think she meant also that she didn’t have a man looking over her art telling her what she did wrong as she had in the past? Does that fit her timeline/history?

    • Oh, I don’t mind alligators … although they do make me hesitant to canoe 😉 No, Florida has a lot of mosquitoes, biting ants, chiggers, etc. Mosquitoes eat me up and, really, if it weren’t for mosquitoes, I could enjoy the outdoors a lot more. We have snakes too although I don’t mind them either. But I understand rattlesnakes and scorpions would be new, unhappy experiences 😉 About O’Keefe: I think that was part of it. I remember an interview in which she talked about the time she would spend at Lake George with Stiegliz and his friends. The men criticized her because she had never painted a barn, which I take to mean she had never painted a realistic object? Anyway, she painted a barn to “show them” and then moved on. What I didn’t know until I watched a short film at the museum was that Stiegliz had an exhibition of his photos of her at his gallery before she had her first exhibition. Some of the photos were nudes (frankly, O’Keefe did have a gorgeous body). Critics associated the sexuality they saw in Stiegliz’s photos with O’Keefe’s large paintings of flowers. That made her very unhappy. Part of me wonders if Stiegliz was trying to undermine her work even though he was also her champion.

      • So fascinating to hear more about O’keefe. I am not surprised that the men criticized her. Male artists were not used to female artists and probably felt threatened, and I can just imagine it happening. Aside from his probable mixed and controlling motives, do you think she made a mistake letting him photograph her nude since it made her vulnerable?
        I don’t even know what chiggers are!!! But biting ants are horrible. And mosquitoes, well, too many of them ruin a night. Are they around in the spring, say March?

        • Mosquitoes are year-round here, especially since our winters are rarely cold enough to kill them off. Chiggers are tiny insects that irritate your skin and make you itch. Re: O’Keefe posing nude. No, I don’t think it was a mistake. The few photographs I’ve seen are beautiful, not pornographic or gratuitous. The fault is with Stieglitz who should known how critics would respond (and maybe he did), and then the critics who too quickly associated O’Keefe’s art with Stieglitz’s photographs. But the art world in general wasn’t used to female artists either. Much easier to sexuality her art than take her seriously. And that’s my humble interpretation of those times. I am by no means a scholar 😉

          • Have you seen how somebody imitated the photo of Sylvia Plath in her bathing suit that has been used to “market” Plath on a book cover by putting Ted Hughes, her [slimy] husband in a bathing suit on a fake book cover to make the point that people are sexist toward female poets?
            Chiggers sound like I would HATE them.

            • I saw the Plath photo but didn’t read the story behind it. Cheers to whoever did the fake Hughes photo. I am so tired of the attitude that women’s bodies are public property 😬

              • There is a backlash saying she looked great so why not share it, but the point is that is not the way she would want to be depicted in her poet-of-the-literary-canon persona. Besides, I am always anti-Hughes ;).

  7. Wow, gorgeous pics, and your riff on O’Keeffe reminded me of an exhibit of her work I went to at the LA County Museum of Art, way back when. Seeing the paintings in person changed my whole idea of them, and of her, and I bought the catalogue and read bios and just soaked her up. Then I visited Santa Fe. It’s definitely a unique place and you can see why she loved it there.

    I hope you’re savoring your trip even as you ease back into “normal life.”

    • Yup, there’s still a lot of savoring going on 😉 My husband is already asking when we could go back. Many years ago Greg was in Chicago on a business trip and had the time to go to the museum where Sky above Clouds IV is hung. That made him a fan 🙂

  8. Thank you for taking us along. I enjoyed it! Georgia O’Keefe was fascinating. I don’t think she was always happy, but I like the way she explored her life through her art. I went through a period where I did NOT like her art, but then when I learned more about her, I liked her work a lot more.

    • I agree, I believe O’Keefe had her dark times. She was definitely determined to live her life the way she wanted. I do think her art is better appreciated in context. Maybe that’s just me since I’m not an artist, I can’t even imagine how she visualized her work. And that’s why artists are so important 🙂

Comments are closed.