Georgia O’Keeffe: A Towering Talent

October 18, 2017

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On Monday, July 17th I received an invitation via email from “The Apartment by The Line” to a screening of a documentary titled Art of Style that featured Georgia O’Keeffe, the famous artist. “This looks interesting,” I thought to myself so I responded at once to the RSVP. The email also noted that this work was directed and produced by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (her husband’s grandmother is Diana Vreeland).

The Apartment by The Line in California – located at 8463 Melrose Place, Second Floor, in Los Angeles.

THE LOCATION

My friend and I headed down to The Line on Tuesday, July 25th for this 7:00 to 9:00 pm event. This place takes a bit of effort to find because it’s located at 76 Greene Street. We took the #6 Lexington subway, got off at Spring Street and walked a number of blocks west to Greene.  

 

The first room one sees when walking into The Apartment by The Line in Manhattan.

For more information about The Line CLICK HERE for “A New Venture” that appeared on November 19, 2014.

THE CANCELLATION

When we arrived, there was a crowd of people waiting in front of the building so we assumed that they were just waiting to enter. Sensing that we hadn’t caught on, a young lady turned and said, “You realize it’s cancelled, don’t you? Take a look at the notice on the door.” A very short note said that the event had been cancelled “due to technical difficulties.” Of course, everyone said the same thing: why didn’t they just send out a global email about the cancellation?

THE FOLLOW-UP

Since we’ve been to literally hundreds of events in Manhattan and never ONCE been cancelled – this was a bit of a shock. But we salvaged the evening with three hours of walking, talking, laughing, drinks and munchies.

The next day I thought a global apology would be sent to everyone. Instead, I received an email from The Line describing their new merchandise. This ticked me off so I called them and explained that we had attended the screening and I wanted to know what happened.

There was a long, long pause as I waited for my call to be transferred. Then I was disconnected. I called back and talked to a young lady who explained that the building was experiencing power outages for the past week because of the heat wave. Her excuses for all the screening mishaps that took place went on and on. Finally she said it would be possible to view this 20-minute documentary on the fashion video network M2M.

Guess what? It didn’t work. We gave up.

THE ARTIST HERSELF

Frustrated to the core, I decided to research O’Keeffe (her father was Irish) because she’s always been one of my favorite artists. Her parents were dairy farmers and she was born (number two of seven) in 1887 in a farmhouse located in the town of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

By the age of ten she had decided to become an artist and eventually studied at the Art Student’s League in New York and Columbia University. At the age of 31 she moved to New York (1918) at the urging of Alfred Stieglitz an art dealer and photographer who had exhibited her work. They married when she was 37.

Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918

O’Keeffe and Stieglitz lived together in New York until 1929, when she began spending part of the year in the southwest. This served as inspiration for her paintings of New Mexico landscapes and images of animal skulls.

Her husband was 25 years older than her so he provided financial support for her career.

She is most famous for her depiction of flowers – and created roughly 200 flower paintings. However, in 1925 they moved into a 30th floor apartment, with fabulous views, in the Shelton Hotel, which was between 48th and 49th Streets on Lexington Avenue. This is where O’Keeffe began to do paintings of NYC skyscrapers. (Years ago, I lived on East 49th between Third and Second Avenues – Katharine Hepburn lived four doors down – she owned a townhouse, I didn’t.)

Jimson Weed, oil on linen, 1936, by Georgia O’Keeffe sold for $44,405,000 in 2014

While living and working in the south, O’Keeffe traveled extensively in a Ford Model A. By the mid-1930s (at the age of 49) she had made her mark and was a popular and reputed artist.

When her husband retired in 1937 he had made more than 350 portraits of her. Stieglitz died in 1946 and O’Keeffe moved permanently to New Mexico in 1949. In the 1950s she began traveling around the world. But she loved her Ghost Ranch in New Mexico and once said, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” Isn’t that a wonderful quote?

Summer Days by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1936, is a desert scene with a deer skull and vibrant wildflowers – this is one of her most well-known paintings

She moved to Santa Fe in 1984 where she died in 1986 at the age of 98. Her ashes were scattered, as she wished, on the land around Ghost Ranch.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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