During Georgia's second summer in New Mexico she began collecting the dry, white animal bones scattered over the desert. She would crate up many of them and ship them to Lake George so that she could study and paint the bones later.
"The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho' it is vast and empty and untouchable...and knows no kindness with all it's beauty."
In June of 1934 Georgia would visit Ghost Ranch for the first time, and knew immediately that she would live here. The ranch is located in a remote area approximately 120 miles north of Albuquerque. Among other guests to visit the ranch were, D.H. Lawrence, Charles and Anna Lindbergh, and Ansel Adams.
"All the earth colors of the painter's palette are out there in the many miles of badlands..."
Georgia purchased the house where she had been staying at Ghost Ranch in 1940, along with the view of the flat-topped mesa in the Jemez range, called the Pedernal. She jokingly remarked:
"It's my private mountain, It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it."
In December 1945 she bought an abandoned hacienda in the village of Abiquiu, 16 miles from Ghost Ranch. The crumbling structures of 5 buildings would go through extensive renovation until completion in 1948.
While Georgia was spending the summer of 1946 in New Mexico, Stieglitz suffered a cerebral thrombosis. She quickly flew to New York to be by his side where he died on July 13, 1946. She took his ashes to Lake George and buried them at the foot of a tall pine tree beside the lake.
As both the inheritor and executor of his estate, Georgia found herself busy the next three winters in New York cataloging his works and finding suitable institutions for his photographs and writings.
Although separated for long periods of time through the years, Stieglitz had taken care of many business details for Georgia. She would now have to take on these responsibilities.
She would withdraw from the limelight...tending her garden at the Abiquiu home and travelling to Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asia...often in the spring when the dust storms were so prevalent in New Mexico. When asked why she travelled so much, she would say that she wanted to see if she lived in the right place.
In 1962 Georgia was elected to the 50 member American Academy of Arts and Letters, the nation's highest honor society for people in the arts. By the 70's people began to take renewed interest in her work. She was invited to show at the Whitney and her retrospective exhibit travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago and San Francisco Museum of Art...setting new attendance records. Her popularity was skyrocketing.
In 1971 Georgia became aware that her eyesight was failing. At the age of 84, she was losing her central vision and only had peripheral sight...an irreversible eye degeneration disease. She would stop painting in 1972.
O'Keeffe's love of Ghost Ranch remained as strong as the first day she had seen it more than 40 years before.
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Santa Fe Photographics
BREAKING NEWS: O'Keeffe's "Canyon Suite" watercolors at Kemper Museum declared FAKES. Read all about it at the Kansas City Star or the recent Washington Post article (August 4, 2000) The Curious Case Of the Spurious O'Keeffe's
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico officially opened on July 17, 1997, and is located at 217 Johnson Street. More than 80 of her paintings, drawings, and sculptures will be on display. An official 144 page catalog is available with 120 illustrations, price $35. For further information you may call 505-827-4455.
For those of you who would like to visit her home in Abiquiu, 45 miles north of Santa Fe, you will need to make reservations months in advance. Guided tours are $20. for the interior, and $15. for the exterior. Appointments only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. For more information call 505-685-4539.
O'Keeffe, The Life of an American Legend; Jeffrey Hogrefe; Bantam; 1994; ISBN 0-553-56545-1
Portrait of an Artist; Laurie Lisle; Washington Square Press; 1986; ISBN 0-671-60040-0
Becoming O'Keeffe; Sarah W. Peters; Abbeville Press; 1991; ISBN 0-55859-362-4
Georgia O'Keeffe; Georgia O'Keeffe; Penguin Books; 1977; ISBN 0-14-004677-1
Georgia O'Keeffe; Elizabeth Montgomery; Barnes & Noble; 1993; ISBN 0-88029-951-7
Georgia O'Keeffe; Charles C. Eldredge; Harry N. Abrams, Inc; 1991; ISBN 0-8109-3657-7