September 27, 2022

This time around, I knew to reserve tickets months in advance for a guided tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiqui?, New Mexico, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. I arrived at midday on August 30th, curious to know what I might learn about the iconic artist. But first, clouds and an adobe wall.

In the Patio VIII by Georgia O’Keeffe

Not the same wall, and not the same clouds. And yet seeing her home causes a rush of recognition when viewing her paintings again.

O’Keeffe’s house at Abiqui? was her winter home. In summers she relocated to Ghost Ranch, 12 miles away. “Though breathtakingly situated,” explains the O’Keeffe Museum, “O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch home was not suitable for her to live in year-round. O’Keeffe purchased a larger home, in the village of Abiqui?, for its well-irrigated garden and the comfort it offered in winter.” A well-irrigated garden — a worthy dream! She lived here from 1949 until 1984.

Our guide led us first into the backyard, where bleached antlers on an old stump recall O’Keeffe’s antler and bone paintings.

We viewed the large garden, where rows of vegetables and fruit trees once supplied the majority of the food for her kitchen.

An acequia supplies water to the garden still.

A big picture window offers a peek into O’Keeffe’s modernist living room, complete with a healthy jade plant enjoying the light. Her collection of rocks lines a deep windowsill. We’d tour the interior later, but this room is off-limits to visitors to protect its fragile adobe floor.

A narrow passage leads from the garden into an inner courtyard, or the patio as O’Keeffe called it.

Bundled corn adorns a wall.

That passageway as seen from inside the courtyard

Straight ahead, other doors offer entry into the rambling adobe house. “The oldest rooms of the house were probably built in 1744. The house was expanded in the 19th century into a pueblo-style adobe (mud brick) hacienda, with rows of rooms organized around a common open space, or plazuela,” the museum website explains. The place lay in ruin when O’Keeffe purchased it, and she spent several years restoring it from the ground up.

In the patio courtyard, a dark doorway (at left) mesmerized the artist — a doorway she would end up painting again and again. “As I climbed and walked about in the ruin,” O’Keeffe recalled, according to the website, “I found a patio with a very pretty well house and bucket to draw up water. It was a good-sized patio with a long wall with a door on one side. That wall with a door in it was something I had to have.'”

Our guide pulled out a laminated reproduction of O’Keeffe’s In the Patio II to show us how the artist had abstracted the door and wall.

From this…

In the Patio II by Georgia O’Keeffe

…to this, hanging in Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art, where we’d see it the next day.

Just past the wall with the door, a portal decorated with a deer skull and antlers, pottery, and more of O’Keeffe’s rocks leads from the courtyard to the exterior via a wooden door.

Collections

A partial bighorn sheep skull balances on a rock atop a post.

Mudded into an adobe wall, a little face peeps out.

We entered another courtyard, with a gated opening to the drive.

If you exit through that gate, this is the view back in.

Now we were invited inside, into the kitchen. Storage niches had been carved out of the adobe walls.

My gaze was drawn out a kitchen window toward a low wall and a view-blocking juniper and small tree. I asked if the garden remained as it was in O’Keeffe’s time and was told yes. Times change, don’t they? I am somehow surprised that O’Keeffe would not have preferred elegant and compact native plants to such over-pruned, out-of-place shrubs.

From the kitchen we could view two off-limits rooms, both with adobe earthen floors. I can’t recall what this room was used for. Perhaps herb-drying and storage?

The other off-limits space begins with a simple dining room with a paper Isamu Noguchi light that he gifted to O’Keeffe.

Beyond the dining room you can see into the modernist living room, with its big picture window and skylight. Adobe floors run throughout.

A cascading fern and copper kettle in the light of a window

The living room, with its view of an ancient tamarisk tree — how I wanted to step into this space and look around.

Back outside, where potted plants casually lean atop tree stump pedestals

Next we saw O’Keeffe’s winter studio, a large, white room with an enormous picture window that immediately draws the eye.

The window makes you feel a part of the northern New Mexico landscape.

Cattle horns rest gracefully on a deep windowsill.

In a corner by the window, a studio bed with a spartan coverlet overlooks the epic view.

Another window, curtained, offers a narrower slice of the chaparral.

Bundled feathers on the wall

Outside, more of O’Keeffe’s rock collection adorns a flat rock pointing like an arrow at a distant mountain.

A corner window into O’Keeffe’s nun-like bedroom (not open to visitors) offers a ghostly view of her white bed and lamp with reflected red cliffs and green chaparral.

Tree rings

O’Keeffe’s house crouches at the edge of a steep mesa, overlooking a green valley below.

Our guide standing in front of the road that inspired O’Keeffe’s Winter Road I

Just below the house, a curving, two-lane road slices through the trees before tapering around another hill. O’Keeffe wrote about this road and painted it:

“Two walls of my room in the Abiqui? house are glass and from one window I see the road toward Espanola, Santa Fe, and the world. The road fascinates me with its ups and downs and finally its wide sweep as it speeds toward the wall of my hilltop to go past me. I had made two or three snaps of it with a camera. For one of them I turned the camera at a sharp angle to get all the road. It was accidental that I made the road seem to stand up in the air, but it amused me, and I began drawing and painting it as a new shape. The trees and mesa beside it were unimportant for that painting–it was just the road.”

https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/blog/10-quotes-georgia-okeeffe

Seeing the places that O’Keeffe saw on a daily basis, that she studied and tried to capture again and again in her paintings, gave me new insight into her work. Now I was seeing her paintings everywhere, even in the parking lot behind the visitor center, where this massive, furrowed cottonwood stretches its limbs skyward.

Cottonwood Tree (Near Abiquiu), New Mexico by Georgia O’Keeffe

Up next: The Taos adobe church that O’Keeffe painted and the vertigo-inducing Rio Grande Gorge Bridge just north of Taos. For a look back at Santa Fe’s colorful gallery and museum art and architecture, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

The Oct. 20th Garden Spark talk “Black Flora” by author Teresa Speight is on sale now, and you’re invited! Teri will be sharing stories of pioneering Black florists, floral activists, and flower farmers doing incredible work across the U.S. Her profiles of these unstoppable creatives in Black Flora are uplifting and inspiring; check out my book review for more info. Come join us and meet Teri at her talk and book signing. Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Adobe, sky, and bones at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home appeared first on Digging.

Touring Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiqui?, New Mexico, where modernism thrives and rocks and bones connect with the landscape…. Read More
The post Adobe, sky, and bones at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

September 27, 2022

This time around, I knew to reserve tickets months in advance for a guided tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiqui?, New Mexico, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. I arrived at midday on August 30th, curious to know what I might learn about the iconic artist. But first, clouds and an adobe wall.

In the Patio VIII by Georgia O’Keeffe

Not the same wall, and not the same clouds. And yet seeing her home causes a rush of recognition when viewing her paintings again.

O’Keeffe’s house at Abiqui? was her winter home. In summers she relocated to Ghost Ranch, 12 miles away. “Though breathtakingly situated,” explains the O’Keeffe Museum, “O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch home was not suitable for her to live in year-round. O’Keeffe purchased a larger home, in the village of Abiqui?, for its well-irrigated garden and the comfort it offered in winter.” A well-irrigated garden — a worthy dream! She lived here from 1949 until 1984.

Our guide led us first into the backyard, where bleached antlers on an old stump recall O’Keeffe’s antler and bone paintings.

We viewed the large garden, where rows of vegetables and fruit trees once supplied the majority of the food for her kitchen.

An acequia supplies water to the garden still.

A big picture window offers a peek into O’Keeffe’s modernist living room, complete with a healthy jade plant enjoying the light. Her collection of rocks lines a deep windowsill. We’d tour the interior later, but this room is off-limits to visitors to protect its fragile adobe floor.

A narrow passage leads from the garden into an inner courtyard, or the patio as O’Keeffe called it.

Bundled corn adorns a wall.

That passageway as seen from inside the courtyard

Straight ahead, other doors offer entry into the rambling adobe house. “The oldest rooms of the house were probably built in 1744. The house was expanded in the 19th century into a pueblo-style adobe (mud brick) hacienda, with rows of rooms organized around a common open space, or plazuela,” the museum website explains. The place lay in ruin when O’Keeffe purchased it, and she spent several years restoring it from the ground up.

In the patio courtyard, a dark doorway (at left) mesmerized the artist — a doorway she would end up painting again and again. “As I climbed and walked about in the ruin,” O’Keeffe recalled, according to the website, “I found a patio with a very pretty well house and bucket to draw up water. It was a good-sized patio with a long wall with a door on one side. That wall with a door in it was something I had to have.'”

Our guide pulled out a laminated reproduction of O’Keeffe’s In the Patio II to show us how the artist had abstracted the door and wall.

From this…

In the Patio II by Georgia O’Keeffe

…to this, hanging in Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art, where we’d see it the next day.

Just past the wall with the door, a portal decorated with a deer skull and antlers, pottery, and more of O’Keeffe’s rocks leads from the courtyard to the exterior via a wooden door.

Collections

A partial bighorn sheep skull balances on a rock atop a post.

Mudded into an adobe wall, a little face peeps out.

We entered another courtyard, with a gated opening to the drive.

If you exit through that gate, this is the view back in.

Now we were invited inside, into the kitchen. Storage niches had been carved out of the adobe walls.

My gaze was drawn out a kitchen window toward a low wall and a view-blocking juniper and small tree. I asked if the garden remained as it was in O’Keeffe’s time and was told yes. Times change, don’t they? I am somehow surprised that O’Keeffe would not have preferred elegant and compact native plants to such over-pruned, out-of-place shrubs.

From the kitchen we could view two off-limits rooms, both with adobe earthen floors. I can’t recall what this room was used for. Perhaps herb-drying and storage?

The other off-limits space begins with a simple dining room with a paper Isamu Noguchi light that he gifted to O’Keeffe.

Beyond the dining room you can see into the modernist living room, with its big picture window and skylight. Adobe floors run throughout.

A cascading fern and copper kettle in the light of a window

The living room, with its view of an ancient tamarisk tree — how I wanted to step into this space and look around.

Back outside, where potted plants casually lean atop tree stump pedestals

Next we saw O’Keeffe’s winter studio, a large, white room with an enormous picture window that immediately draws the eye.

The window makes you feel a part of the northern New Mexico landscape.

Cattle horns rest gracefully on a deep windowsill.

In a corner by the window, a studio bed with a spartan coverlet overlooks the epic view.

Another window, curtained, offers a narrower slice of the chaparral.

Bundled feathers on the wall

Outside, more of O’Keeffe’s rock collection adorns a flat rock pointing like an arrow at a distant mountain.

A corner window into O’Keeffe’s nun-like bedroom (not open to visitors) offers a ghostly view of her white bed and lamp with reflected red cliffs and green chaparral.

Tree rings

O’Keeffe’s house crouches at the edge of a steep mesa, overlooking a green valley below.

Our guide standing in front of the road that inspired O’Keeffe’s Winter Road I

Just below the house, a curving, two-lane road slices through the trees before tapering around another hill. O’Keeffe wrote about this road and painted it:

“Two walls of my room in the Abiqui? house are glass and from one window I see the road toward Espanola, Santa Fe, and the world. The road fascinates me with its ups and downs and finally its wide sweep as it speeds toward the wall of my hilltop to go past me. I had made two or three snaps of it with a camera. For one of them I turned the camera at a sharp angle to get all the road. It was accidental that I made the road seem to stand up in the air, but it amused me, and I began drawing and painting it as a new shape. The trees and mesa beside it were unimportant for that painting–it was just the road.”

https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/blog/10-quotes-georgia-okeeffe

Seeing the places that O’Keeffe saw on a daily basis, that she studied and tried to capture again and again in her paintings, gave me new insight into her work. Now I was seeing her paintings everywhere, even in the parking lot behind the visitor center, where this massive, furrowed cottonwood stretches its limbs skyward.

Cottonwood Tree (Near Abiquiu), New Mexico by Georgia O’Keeffe

Up next: The Taos adobe church that O’Keeffe painted and the vertigo-inducing Rio Grande Gorge Bridge just north of Taos. For a look back at Santa Fe’s colorful gallery and museum art and architecture, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

The Oct. 20th Garden Spark talk “Black Flora” by author Teresa Speight is on sale now, and you’re invited! Teri will be sharing stories of pioneering Black florists, floral activists, and flower farmers doing incredible work across the U.S. Her profiles of these unstoppable creatives in Black Flora are uplifting and inspiring; check out my book review for more info. Come join us and meet Teri at her talk and book signing. Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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