Visiting Georgia O'Keeffe's Happy Place — Ghost Ranch

 

Long on my bucket list, Ghost Ranch was beyond my wildest expectations. No wonder Georgia O'Keeffe spent more than 40 years here. Every where you turn, you simply can't believe what you're seeing. In fact, back in the 1930's, nobody believed that O'Keeffe's paintings depicted the true colors of New Mexico. But then, almost no one from New York had ever visited there, including her famous photographer husband,  Alfred Stieglitz.

 

The day started out grey and cloudy. New Mexico was (thankfully) experiencing some rain fall (.10" -- a virtual monsoon for them), and there were fires in the southeastern part of the state that were sending black smoke across the area. Temperatures were in the mid-70s, causing the locals to feel it was a tad chillier than usual (normally around 100 degrees) and scrambling for long-sleeved shirts. 

 

 

As we drove from Albuquerque to Abiquiú, I was struck by the extraordinary vistas surrounding us. Mountains off in the distance, their tops shrouded in clouds, with glimpses of rays of sunlight here and there. And where those rays hit, you were astonished by the incredible hues of red, ochre, pink, orange, lavender, rust, magenta, purple, teal, olive ... all the colors we've come to associate with a typical southwestern color palette. The colors were so intense in those moments that it was impossible not to gasp with absolute delight.

 

By the time we got to Ghost Ranch, we were already drunk on color. Little did I realize that was just the tip of what we were going to see. I should have known better being a fan of O'Keeffe's work. Strolling about, looking at all the views, it was all I could do not to cry. I felt this overwhelming sense of awe, peace, of gratitude and joy.

 

Even more, I began to realize why I felt so attached and moved by her art now that I was here. Being here made me more aware of how I'm so hypersensitive to all the colors I see and how I interpret them. Whether on land or sea — colors and abstract shapes move me in a way I had been unconsciously suppressing. Well, no more of that for me! My wild child was starting to come alive! 

 

Georgia's courage to express the beauty she saw in the way she saw it was awe-inspiring. The elegance of her forms, colors and gradations, simplicity of shapes, attention to showing the grandeur in the mighty and the tiny. Oh my!

 

We did an historical tour and learned how O'Keeffe bought only 7 acres of Ghost Ranch's 21,000 acres. But she considered the entire property as her front yard and back yard. Its history is fascinating and I encourage you to read about it (I've put some sources at the bottom of this post). [Warning: when you want to visit, make reservations. It's a very popular place and you might not get in without one. Do it online at least 2 months in advance.]

 

 

Several of my art buddies and I plan to return here for a week of painting because, well, BECAUSE the place is beyond words. (And I thought Sedona was gorgeous. -- Ha!) My photos don't do Ghost Ranch and New Mexico justice. You've simply got to go there to believe it. Bucket list item.

 

I'm going to bring at least 100 canvases when I go there next  ... I hope I don't run out! 

 

Suggested reading: 

https://www.ghostranch.org/about/our-story/the-past/, 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Ranch

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/