Of all the adventures we’d planned on our trip, visiting Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu was one I was most excited for. She is such an inspiration to me and understanding her art in the context of where she lived and worked was at the top of my list of pilgrimages to make.
Georgia honored the land and was as self-sustaining as possible, growing everything (organically) that she needed. Any renovations to the home preserved the original foundation and she hired local workers to support the area’s economy. Our guide, Pita, was the granddaughter of one of these workers– her mother also worked for Georgia and so did she. Pita walked us through each of the rooms sharing her personal stories of Georgia–amazing!!! To have such an intimate tour with just the three of us allowed the space to truly breathe and stirred a part of me unlike any piece of art of museum ever has.
Austere, minimalist, and surprisingly chic, the house is left exactly as it was- as though she might come home any moment from one of her morning walks.
The space is completely saturated with her essence, revealing her values. She was highly controlling and it is apparent in her perfectly ordered artistic environment: everywhere we looked was a carefully considered vignette, even when it wasn’t– the three panels of glass looking out over the garden, creating a sort of japanese screen art that changed with the seasons, her enormous pantry (a full-sized room!) filled with jars of dried herbs, collections of teapots and shelves of cookbooks with scrap-paper markers. Still-lives of her favorite stones and other items from nature cover window sills, benches, shelves, a rattlesnake skeleton embedded under glass in the living room. Her wide studio with a sweeping panorama of the entire Chama valley. Even her once dark floors were changed to white carpet because the liked the contrast of her black and brown dogs against it.
And then her bedroom.
Surprisingly small, bare and almost painfully modest, it has only one lean bed, a chair, an adobe wood stove, and a thai hand in the mudra “fear not.” It brought me to tears afterward thinking about her only extravagance– the two floor to ceiling windows she had installed in the corner of her room. Two full walls looking out over the valley and wavy road leading to Santa Fe, no curtains. From her tucked away corner of the world, Georgia had created a perch from which she could observe the earth, the sky, the light, and the comings and goings of all who traversed the land she considered hers. It speaks volumes to the entitlement she felt to what she loved, whether it was rational or not, and it is for that stubbornness and true artist’s passion that I admire her so.
all images via the georgia o’keeffe foundation