Monday, September 28, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe's Mountain

I enjoyed taking a look at a young college woman's new blog, A Bit of Rain, after she left a comment about one of my posts. When I saw that she was a fan of Georgia O'Keeffe, it made me remember my joy of discovering that artist decades ago. It looks like the Bit of Rain blogger was introduced to the artist via the new Lifetime biopic, "Georgia O'Keeffe" starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons.

In an earlier post, I mentioned my Elderhostel trip to New Mexico, a six day course fashioned on all things O'Keeffe. I recently found my notes from that trip in 2006, page after page of tidbits and trivia about the artist, her art and her life and having also watched the Lifetime movie, I fell back into my fascination with her.

O'Keeffe particularly loved one flat-topped mesa, Cerro Pedernal. She called it "my private mountain", which she could see from the front yard of her home at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It is featured in 28 of her paintings. She paired it with flowers and with bones. She painted it up close and from faraway, under blue skies and moonlight. During my six day stay at Ghost Ranch, I too grew very fond of the Pedernal, which you could not help but recognize from her paintings. It is also the place where O'Keeffe's ashes were dispersed.

Another interesting aspect of Cerro Pedernal is its connection to the Navajo myth of Changing Woman, who also holds a place of power for the Apache. Changing Woman represents the turnings of the wheel of time, as well as eternal timelessness. She is the beneficent female deity of all the seasons of life: birth, growth, life, aging, death and rebirth. Symbolizing balance, beauty and harmony, Changing Woman came to life on Cerro Pedernal, a child born of sky and mountain. I wonder if O'Keeffe felt a connection to Changing Woman's timeless wisdom.

In future posts I will explore further topics related to O'Keeffe. I'd like to go back to Ghost Ranch in the fall, when I'm told the cottonwoods turn yellow as liquid butter. But for this year's fall field trips, my husband and I are bound for the State Fair in Dallas and then on to Missouri to visit family there. I am really excited about finally visiting the State Fair. I've lived in the state of Texas more than half of my life now, so clearly it was time to pay my respects to Big Tex, the super tall iconic State Fair Cowboy, he the wearer of a 75 gallon hat and size 70 boots!

photo: KAO at Ghost Ranch. Cerro Pedernal in the background, Spring 2006.

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