Sunday, January 02, 2005


Georgia O'Keeffe

Just went to see the exhibit of her work in Fresno. First, what so often happens at these types of viewings is that I find myself more interested in the writing about the artist and the others gathered to see it than the art itself. Today was no exception. The people there were of all ages, socio-economic levels and cultural backgrounds. It always thrills me to see people who don't look the part walking and reading and pondering with the rest of us. The well-dressed and the sweat pants'ed alike took it in.
Aside from her brazen use of color, which I love, I was taken aback by her story. Here was but another woman with an innate talent that lost it, not by death, but rather by loss of sight. The one thing that made her who she was got taken away, as if to teach her a lesson about what it was to be normal. Her life was anything but, as a Wisconsin farm girl turned society woman (which I would venture she could've done without). In photographs of her, you get the sense that she was solitary even when surrounded by friends, guarded in her personal relationships. I would also imagine that her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz (pardon the possible misspelling) was probably not all she had dreamed.
She had another interesting departure from other women of her time. She did not take his name. I don't get the impression from the small bits of her tale today that she was by any means famous by the time they married, but rather maybe that she just had a quite certain sense of herself and identity by that time. I am not intimating a self-centeredness, but rather a grounded core identity.
Whatever the reasons for her choices, her work was nothing short of amazing. In fact, even the cards by each piece could not find more than a couple overused terms to describe the work. A thesaurus might or might not have helped.

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