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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, February 28, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Georgia O’Keeffe

Friday February 28,2014 Quality Inn Santa Fe, New Mexico 5:03 PM MST  Suite 108

Boy, oh Boy, did the wind howl last night!  Some rain and the far mountains this morning showed there was a bit of snow, too. Today was beautiful, however, starting with temps in the 50’s and warming up to the 60’s by noon. Had done my nails last night and was pleased to see they needed just a bit of refining around the edges but the colors perfect for the Southwest—a bit of terra cotta with some spring green.

We have many things we’d like to see in Santa Fe, Holy Faith, but among altitude, hot sun without many clouds and age, we are going to not overdo. Today we chose two of the places, close to each other and both time consuming with walking. So after breakfast we started out to the Sanctuaria ( Shrine ) of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I remember receiving a holy card of  this incarnation of Mary, the Mother of Christ, as a prize for winning a spelling bee. The aura around her was a metallic gold and the stars on her dress and veil were also. I always loved the card and think it may still be around somewhere, unless it was in my St Joseph’s Missal which my father gave away after I moved out on my own. At any rate, the history of this Church, its simplicity and its many representations of Mary was very interesting. There was no one there, to speak of. A local lady who took home one of the poinsettia plants in the nave with a sign to take one home. A couple of men, who came and prayed for a short time and lit candles. Other than those few people, the place was ours and it was so serene and soothing. We walked around the whole square block—enjoying the quiet neighborhood with its high walled homes and carved wooden doors for entry into their private courtyards.

Drove over a few blocks and parked on Grant St to explore the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which is a small, intimate space with simple exhibit space. The museum owns 3000 pieces of her works as well as Ghost Ranch and her home in Abiququi. The exhibits are changed fairly frequently and though not all are of GOK’s work ( the museum is the OK ) those that are of her things usually include the works of another artist with whom she was familiar and whose work mirrors hers in location and focus. Today’s was a small retrospective of her paintings done in Hawaii when she was hired to illustrate Dole Pineapple Company’s Pineapple Juice ad campaign. (Interesting that Rockwell is considered an illustrator because of his work with the Sat. Evening Post but she is considered an artist despite this work for Dole—ah, artistic airs and snobbery!) Her works were interspersed with Ansel Adams photographs of Hawaii on a different trip and for different reasons. These I could not photograph.

I found her change in colors and heaviness of strokes and tools through the years very interesting. It is so interesting to me that her early NYC and pre-NYC work has been largely forgotten—even her Lake George work –across the Lake from our camp—is relatively unknown except to real fans. Her flowers are probably best known of her work and yet she spent so much of her life painting the Southwest, in particular the landscape around her homes in New Mexico. Indeed, she had been coming here for winters since the 20’s and moved here permanently in 1949. She died in 1986 so 36 years of her output, not counting the sojourns to escape Lake George and NYC, had as its focus the scenes of New Mexico. My first introduction to her work were sun-bleached cattle skulls on sand under a bright blue sky with impossibly white clouds. To this day, those are my favorite of her works.

Leaving the museum it was amusing to see a modern day Georgia or George has one of those skulls bound to the grill of a car, parked in a compact car zone, which was hardly compact. We took a spin around the Plaza to scout out parking and location of other sights in preparation for tomorrow. Then we found an Applebees for an early dinner. What fun we had, on our left, four clean-cut Anglo boys—around 30, since they were in town from Los Alamos, Atlanta and other out of town places to attend a surprise party for a fellow here in town whose 30th birthday is today. Bantered and chatted with them on and off and also chatted with the group of Native blue-collar workmen, also in their mid-30s. One fellow just arrived back from Eagle’s Nest where he was working. Another man works in the Santa Fe Sewers and another was a carpenter. This was as much fun and as interesting as the Shrine and the museum.

Came back to the motel and relaxing with the news—a life-long farmer declared dead at the hospital, in the body bag, ready to be embalmed when he moved and it was discovered he is very much alive. Where is that bell string when you need it?  Scary!

Don’t know what is on the agenda tomorrow but looking forward to it. Will let you know all about it tomorrow night. Take care and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Hugs, KandB

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