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Georgia O’Keeffe: the Beautiful and the DAM

rsz_okeeffe_georgia-chama_river_ghost_ranchThere’s nothing like a room full of O’Keeffe to make me want to take a road trip and the “Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam and the Land” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum is no exception. Horizontal landscapes of rugged terrain, softened under pastel lights and sharpened on the shadow stimulate my need for the wide and the wild. When Georgia O’Keeffe came to the badlands of Abiquiu she was already an established and successful New York artist. The untamed West, rendered by a soul who’d found her place on earth brings serenity to every city wall she hangs on. Heavy with landscape, the exhibit takes us away from the larger, more familiar cow skulls and flowers of our collective remembrance and sits us down on a rock at sunset. Shapes, shadows, fine strokes and drama draw the viewer deeper down the river. Hopi influences aside, or perhaps front and center I found myself transported to a different time and place, staring at a church or a chasm as if alone in the enchantment.  O’Keeffe crowds solitude with the thick heat and thin air of the high mesa desert, in a tone-on-tone moment that contains life and death without judgement.
“I longed for quiet, a sense of personal attachment and a place that held meaning”, Georgia said of New Mexico.  Not only did she find it she became it, inspiring us as layers of light call to the mind to open up, to share.  A pencil sketch becomes an intimate whisper, the high blue mesa a best friend. Georgia O’Keeffe is the retreat you long to give yourself, and now she has come to you.
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Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsnim & the Land at the Denver Art Museum through April 28, 2013

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