Home General Georgia (O'Keeffe) and Mabel on My Thoughts

Georgia (O’Keeffe) and Mabel on My Thoughts

“On the Portal, Ghost Ranch, 1959” Picture by Todd Webb, © 2010*

Final August after Karen Younger and I started planning for the 2012 12 months of Exceptional Taos Ladies, Canadian poet and writer Kate Braid contacted me. One among her favourite painters is Georgia O’Keeffe. Kate spent every week in Taos some years in the past. Impressed by the panorama, historical past and folks – and a few current analysis she’d carried out on Georgia, she went on to jot down a e-book of poems that “doc” Georgia’s journal of an imaginary journey with Emily Carr, Canada’s iconic lady painter. Nominated for a number of prizes, together with the Pat Lowther Award for Finest E book of Poems by a Canadian Lady, Kate’s e-book, Inward to the Bones: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Journey with Emily Carr, gained the VanCity Ladies’s E book Prize in Vancouver, British Columbia.
One among Kate’s poems (under) impressed this weblog posting. I remembered studying how two collection of pictures by Georgia’s husband Alfred Stieglitz had helped develop a mystique round O’Keeffe, particularly his pictures from the 1930s. These portraits, launched to the press within the 1910s and 1920s, contributed to the legend that grew up round her: descriptions of her persona ranged from aloof to enigmatic to reserved.
On studying her letters, nevertheless, I found a extra complicated persona, the true Georgia. One she penned in April 1929, every week earlier than leaving New York for New Mexico, illustrates her reluctance to go away Stieglitz (who had suffered a extreme coronary heart assault the earlier September). She wrote: “If I can sustain my braveness and go away Stieglitz I plan to go West the start of subsequent week for 2 months. It’s all the time such a wrestle for me to go away him.”
Kate Braid portrayed that side on this poem (from Half II, “New Mexico: Mild over Water”):
I pack the suitcase, trembling with pleasure.
And concern. Alfred will miss me.
He’s so fragile, so tragic.
His lengthy white fingers play with my valise,
His eyes solid down in sorrow.
However I need to go—
It’s for my spirit, for my life.
Kate additionally captured O’Keeffe’s anticipation. Then experiencing an ebb in her profession, a time when she thought-about her portray weak, she wanted a change, a brand new world of prospects. In 1916 Georgia had discovered inspiration within the west Texas panorama, within the contrasts between coloration, type and form, after her transfer to Canyon. The New Mexico panorama, considered briefly throughout a go to to Santa Fe in 1917, had additionally captured her creativeness.
How Georgia obtained to Taos is an extended story, however at Mabel’s invitation she and her pal and fellow painter Rebecca Strand (then married to the well-known American photographer Paul Strand) arrived there in Could 1929. Mabel put them up within the Pink Home, and gave Georgia her personal studio to work in.
That summer season in northern New Mexico modified O’Keeffe’s world endlessly. What occurred to her comes out in letters. Simply days after their arrival Rebecca wrote to Stieglitz telling him how a lot higher the chance to work was, how she and Georgia each felt energetic and alive in Taos away from all of the distractions of town. Someday that summer season O’Keeffe wrote her pal Henry McBride(artwork critic for the New York Solar)”You understand I by no means really feel at residence within the East like I do out right here—and eventually feeling in the correct place once more—I really feel like myself—and I prefer it—and I like what Mabel has dug up out of the Earth right here…” On the finish of her keep, O’Keeffe expressed her appreciation to Mabel (who was absent from Taos many of the summer season):
I want I might see you this morning—greater than that I might let you know how vital these months have been to me—Possibly you already know—I’m able to go now—in each means—In the event you have been right here I might let you know fairly undoubtedly the way it happened—it’s some factor so excellent—so excellent for ending this and starting a brand new factor—(August 1929)**
Within the strategy of starting the “new factor”—work impressed by the folks artwork, structure, gentle and panorama of Taos—Georgia additionally discovered herself. From 1929 till her dying in 1986, O’Keeffe captured the huge New Mexico sky, the canyons and cliffs round Abiquiu, and bones bleached within the desert solar. These photos grew to become her signature work. And it began at Mabel’s in Taos.
For me, Kate Braid’s final poem (from Half IV, “Inward the Bones”) encapsulates O’Keeffe’s lengthy life and portray profession. It supplies the proper ending to this posting.
I dream a wild wind over my naked bones,
a terrifying tune by means of the cavities of my cranium,
my hips. The skinny digits of what as soon as have been
articulating fingers, path paint.
I’m diminished to gentle     wind.
I can really feel myself inside this physique
like hills, like a vaulted room,
like spans or poles set
bone-deep in pearly earth
A darkish shell falls away, gentle rising
by means of translucent flesh.
I’m haunted by skeletons, stripped clear
of blood and grime.
Shaken, I vibrate to the sensations
that have been as soon as this physique. The wind whistles
music by means of these bones.
Earlier than I log out, I’m happy to announce that Kate has promised to contribute one thing sooner or later about her expertise writing these terrific, transferring poems on O’Keeffe.
Adios for now,
* Cowl picture to Inward to the Bones: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Journey with Emily Carr (2010) by Kate Braid courtesy of Caitlin Press, Half Moon Bay, British Columbia.
** Quotes from this and different letters excerpted from Georgia O’Keeffe: Artwork and Letters by Jack Cowart, Juan Hamilton, and Sarah Greenough. Washington : Nationwide Gallery of Artwork ; Boston : New York Graphic Society Books, 1987.

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