Wow, what were the odds? I guess they were 365 to 1. Today we appeared for our long-ago reserved tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu and learned that it is her 126th birthday. Cookies were served all around!
The birthday part was the icing on the cake, so to say. What a terrific experience it was, going through the hacienda that was her home for the last 35 years of her very long life, from 1949 to 1984. And naturally, no photos were allowed. In fact, no purses or bags of any sort were allowed. Judging from the warning email we received last week, we were actually anticipating a full cavity search, but they got civilized at the actual moment of the tour. Maybe it was the birthday spirit – kind of made the guides giddy.
You take a small van from the tour office at the Abiquiu Inn, about a mile up the hill to the town of Abiquiu, which is a small community with a tiny post office.
We went back later and took pictures of the buildings outside her house and of the driveway in. Dog warning signs are original because evidently her chows were not well-behaved. And then we scampered for fear of being arrested. So here are a few of the buildings around her house, the adobe wall surrounding the garden where she grew most of her own food, and the driveway.
And here are also a few pictures of the interior, which I have been reduced to taking from postcards. Here you will see her garden, her 1950’s kitchen, complete with a table made from that new miracle product, plywood, and her studio space. Best I could get, guys.
At the moment I snapped the picture of her driveway, the skies opened up and it started pouring. But a mile down the road, the sun also came out, and we had a gorgeous rainbow. Guess Georgia forgave us for visually trespassing. And not 10 minutes later, we saw our first tumbleweed. Oh joy!
Our next stop was Ghost Ranch, about 15 miles from Abiquiu. That was the dude ranch where she stayed for many years before she was able to persuade the owners (the Catholic Church) to sell her the property she had her heart set on. It now seems to be a retreat for Presbyterians, and still operating with dude-type stuff, but we drove in briefly to get an idea of the landscape that captured her imagination and that was the source of many paintings. The vistas are so vast that you can see at least three different weather patterns at the same time. It is just a magnificent landscape.
Then it was back to Santa Fe to end the birthday celebration at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Small, but a great slice of her oeuvre, including a New York City one I love. There were many paintings done during her time in Lake George with Alfred Stieglitz at his family home. The style is recognizable, but she was out of her element there. “Everything is green,” she said. “There is nothing to paint.”
When she discovered New Mexico, she knew she had found her spiritual home. Here is a sample of what I was allowed to photograph in the museum, including two Stieglitz photos.
Happy birthday, Georgia! (Don’t you love the Ansel Adams picture of her with Orville Cox, the wrangler at Ghost Ranch and the guide on a trip taken by O’Keeffe and Adams?)