In Sante Fe I visited with my old friend Carter Walker who came down from Albuquerque to go look at galleries with me and my friend Bernadette from Aspen.
I looked at galleries all week, among them Zane Bennett Gallery. It is located in The Railyard District which I happened by and saw a Sam Francis work in the window, causing a flashback of my times at Petersburg Press Gallery. I chatted with a director and the exhibitions coordinator who, upon seeing my surprise when I came up the flight of stairs and face to face with a Motherwell print my husband had pulled and I had assisted with in 1988, showed me through the stacks, and other works in storage. Together we perused the Motherwell catalogue raisonne first, then other works on paper and canvas. Seeing that print was a time traveling experience which took me back to 1988 in Manhattan on Varick Street, near Canal.
If I ever get the chance to see Robert Motherwell’s works on paper I take it. He was brilliant painter, a marvelous editor of his own work.
After this trip down memory lane I felt unusually energized. I wanted to go back home and paint. But I hadn’t yet finished with what Sante Fe had to offer. I wanted to time travel further back. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a block and a half from my casita, which the manager told Bernadette and me, had been US Officers Quarters (during the Mexican American War?) was only a three minute walk. I tend to get visually overwhelmed after looking at art for too long so I had planned to visit the museum at intervals during the day. During these periods of visual digestion I’d walk back to my casita and stare at the ceiling in the darkness. Then, off I’d go again to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s work or photos of her by Alfred Stieglitz and other of her friends. The museum guards began to recognize and greet me each time, with announcements of “back again!” I’d wave and smile, miming my passion for her work. Interestingly, as a very young artist I was never taken by O’Keeffe. I knew her as a painter of flowers, however clever. But it wasn’t until I looked at her work in person, in Sante Fe… well… there was so much more. Recently the works were part of a newly curated exhibition called Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction at The Whitney. It’s about time.
Still, understanding just a little bit more about this strong, slender woman, afraid of nothing, with her muscular hands and will of iron, I began to sense how she felt alternately imprisoned by her times, yet through her wit and great talent alternately vindicated and freed from stereotypes about women in general and women artists in particular. She kept people amazed and willing to look in new ways- at the world at large and beyond that to the world and history of painting.