Georgia O’Keeffe Country: following in the artist’s footsteps

 Georgia O’Keeffe Country: following in the artist’s footsteps was first published September 24, 2012. It was updated and republished on 9/24/16, exactly four years later.

Georgia O’Keeffe had two passionate love affairs in her life: Alfred Stieglitz and New Mexico. The one with New Mexico was more enduring.  Miss O’Keeffe, as she is known in these parts, first came to Taos in 1929, the guest of bohemian heiress, Mabel Dodge Luhan. It was pretty much love at first sight. In 1934, O’Keeffe discovered Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. She made it her New Mexico base and spent a portion of every year until 1949, when she moved to the small Northern New Mexico hamlet full time. She divided her time there between the home and studio in town and her Ghost Ranch home. She loved to get into her Model A Ford and drive around Northern New Mexico with her art supplies capturing the haunting landscape. Here are some of the places immortalized by her art. Explore Georgia O’Keeffe Country with us.

Explore Georgia O’Keeffe Country

The Pedernal

“It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” Georgia O’Keeffe 

Georgia O'Keeffe The Pedernal photo Billie Frank

The Pedernal, photo/Billie Frank

Cerro Pedernal, locally known locally as “The Pedernal,” reaches high into the clear New Mexico sky. From the east this Jemez Mountains peak is visible for miles.  You can see it from the High Road to Taos if you know where to look. It has a distinctive silhouette. The flattened mesa at the top makes it look like its top was lopped off. It was the western view from the artist’s Ghost Ranch house. She had a strong kinship with this peak. She famously said, “God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” At the end, she got her got wish. Georgia O’Keeffe’s ashes were scattered at the top of her beloved mountain and it was hers.

Georgia O'Keeffe #1020 Road to Pedernal, 1941 Oil on canvas Georgia O’Keeffe 6 1/8 x 10 (15.55 x 25.4) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation (2006.05.170) © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

#1020 Road to Pedernal, 1941 Oil on canvas Georgia O’Keeffe 6 1/8 x 10 (15.55 x 25.4) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation (2006.05.170)
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Ghost Ranch House

“So, he {Arthur Pack} pawed the ground a while with the toe of his boot and after a while  asked me if I’d as soon live over here. So I moved in and I’ve lived in it ever  since.” Georgia O’Keeffe*

Georgia O'Keeffe photo Herb Lotz courtesy Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch house, photo/Herb Lotz courtesy Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe first came to Ghost Ranch in August 1933. In 1936, she arrived at the ranch unexpectedly and there was no place for her to stay. Arthur Pack, owner of the ranch, let her live in the home he’d built for his family in 1933. She bought it in 1940. She loved this adobe house with its view of “her mountain.” While the home isn’t open to the public, you can view the exterior from a distance on Ghost Ranch’s Georgia O’Keeffe Landscape Tour.

Georgia O'Keeffe The House I Live In, 1937 Oil on canvas Courtesy Yale University Art Museum. CR913

The House I Live In, 1937 Oil on canvas Courtesy Yale University Art Museum. CR913 photo/courtesy Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Ghost Ranch

“Living out here has just meant happiness. Sometimes I think I’m half mad with love for this place.”Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe Ghost Ranch photo Billie Frank

The hills at Ghost Ranch landscape, photo/Billie Frank

Georgia O’Keeffe learned about Ghost Ranch in 1934 and went to check it out. She wasn’t a fan of dude ranches and didn’t know if she wanted to live on one. She went and fell in love with the spot. She called it home at least part of the year for the rest of her life. Everywhere she looked there were rock formations, mountains and inspiration. She painted her house, the sky, the rocks, the trees and the mountains.

Georgia O'Keeffe #837 Purple Hills Ghost Ranch-2 / Purple Hills No II, 1934 Georgia O’Keeffe Oil on canvas affixed to masonite 16 1/4 x 30 1/4 (41.3 x 76.8) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gift of The Burnett Foundation (1997.06.020) © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

#837 Purple Hills Ghost Ranch-2 / Purple Hills No II, 1934 Georgia O’Keeffe Oil on canvas affixed to masonite 16 1/4 x 30 1/4 (41.3 x 76.8) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gift of The Burnett Foundation (1997.06.020) © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The White Place

“When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before…” Quote from Perry Miller Adato’s award-winning 1975 film, Georgia O’Keeffe, made to commemorate the artist’s90th birthday in 1977.

Georgia O'Keeffe The White Place photo Steve Collins

The White Place, photo/Steve Collins

The stark rock formations at Plaza Blanca (the White Place) was minutes from in her Abiquiu village home. This other-worldly landscape drew her. She used to drive there in her trusty Model A and set up for the day and paint.

The Black Place

“Such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the ‘Faraway’. It is a place I have painted before . . . even now I must do it again.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe The Black Place

The Black Place, photo/Billie Frank

Georgia O’Keeffe liked “The Black Place.” She loved these black lava formations, part of the Bisti Badlands on the Navajo Reservation in western New Mexico. It was about 150 miles northwest of her Ghost Ranch home. It was a long and arduous ride over dirt roads in her Model A Ford. She went there several times in the 1940s with her friend and companion, Maria Chabot. They camped out in the stark, lunar landscape in a canvas tent. It was hot there and sometimes she crawled under the car to paint. Here artist’s eye saw color in the way the light hit the rocks in this monochromatic landscape.

Georgia O'Keeffe #1112 The Black Place III, 1945 Georgia O’Keeffe Pastel on paper 27 ¾ x 43 ¾ Private Collection (Slick)

#1112 The Black Place III, 1945 Georgia O’Keeffe Pastel on paper 27 ¾ x 43 ¾ Private Collection (Slick)

Another place O’Keeffe made famous in her paintings was the Church of St. Francis de Asia in Ranchos de Taos.  “Everyone paints the Taos Church,” she said. “If you’re up in Taos two days you have to paint the Taos Church.”*

Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore… unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I’m gone.” We hope they were right, Miss O’Keeffe.

We hope we’ve tweaked your curiosity and you’ll want to explore Georgia O’Keeffe Country on your own.

*If you go, Dar Al Islam, while you explore Georgia O’Keeffe country, the land the White Place is on, the owners ask that you stay on the existing paths and respect their beautiful and fragile land.

Read more about Georgia O’Keeffe:

Visit Abiquiu New Mexico: the gateway to Georgia O’Keeffe Country
Home and Studio Tour

Ghost Ranch Tour
Photo of the Week: The White Place

 

 

 

 

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8 Responses to “Georgia O’Keeffe Country: following in the artist’s footsteps”

  1. Lisa @chickybus
    September 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Great post, Billie–I love how you handled it with the photos, art and quotes. Very cool! Great video, too. I visited Santa Fe and Georgia O’Keeffe’s museum several years ago and enjoyed both. I can understand why she was so inspired there. I think NM is one of the most beautiful states in our country–perhaps the most beautiful one!
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..*New* Rare Sumatran Tiger (Photo of the Day) #Indonesia #animals #ngtradarMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      September 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks, Lisa. That means a lot coming from you. New Mexico is very beautiful- but in a very stark way for the most part. Some people hate it and others fall into instant love- that would be Miss O’Keeffe and I. It was a great piece to research and put together.

  2. Lisa @chickybus
    September 28, 2012 at 5:11 am #

    You’re welcome! I definitely fell in love with NM when I visited. Just about every night, the sunset was so gorgeous that I had to pull over to the side of the road because I wasn’t focusing on driving!
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..Rare Sumatran Tiger in Bukkitingi, Indonesia (Photo of the Day)My Profile

  3. Hanna
    September 30, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Loved this article, Billie. My only regret, on my last visit to NM, was that I didn’t get up to see this area. Ah, a valid reason to return. I love NM. I’ve been to Santa Fe 3 times now and always vow to come and live here. If only it were possible. But it’s nice to dream. And to return. Thanks for the posting.

    • Billie Frank
      September 30, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      I love it too! It was great fun to research as we got to discover great places and got to detour to Chaco Canyon when we went to find the Black Place. Next time you come- you can follow the O’Keeffe trail. We’ll leave breadcrumbs

  4. Billie Frank
    May 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    We didn’t stay there as we live in Santa Fe. It’s a very small town. Places to stay include Ghost Ranch, the Abiquiu Inn, Casa Chuparosa and other B & Bs.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Georgia O’Keefe Country : Two Casitas Vacation Rentals – Our Santa Fe Blog - October 20, 2012

    […] It’s O’Keefe country, the land where Georgia O’Keefe ended up in 1934. We could write an entire blog entry about the landscape around Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, and how it inspired the art of O’Keefe, but lucky for us, someone else already has.  We thought you’d enjoy reading it as much as we did. Thanks to Santa Fe Travelers for this:  http://santafetravelers.com/santa-fe-blogs/georgia-okeeffe-country/ […]

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