Georgia O'keeffe Country

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Abuiqui Lake Campground

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Monday, April 26, 2010

I have been a fan of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe for many years and one of the places I knew I wanted to see on this trip was her home, and the landscape that inspired her, in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  Her New Mexico landscapes have always been my favorites of her paintings -- more so than the paintings of flowers that gave her public fame.  She was an artist at a time when women artists were rare and she had a fascinating life and career, always characterized by a strong and independent spirit,

Georgia O'Keeffe had two homes in this area.  The first was a casita at Ghost Ranch, a former dude ranch where she spent her summers and now a conference retreat owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church,  Her second home was a restored pueblo hacienda in Abiquiu where she spent the winters.  Both of the O'Keeffe homes are now owned by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

The home at Ghost Ranch is not open for public tours. Instead, we took a tour of the countryside around Ghost Ranch that were featured in many of O'Keeffe's paintings -- the red and yellow cliffs of the Piedra Lumre, the black trails of waterfalls against canyon walls, and her beloved Pedernal Mountain.  At each stop, the tour guide showed us photo of the painting inspired by the scenery. 

A couple of days later, we took the guided tour of her home in Abiquiu.  O'Keeffe had her eye on this house for several years.  The bones of the house and the black door in one of the walls fascinated her.  The 5,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-era Abiquiu compound was in ruins in 1945, and for the next four years, O’Keeffe supervised its restoration, which was carried out by her friend, Maria Chabot.  She moved from New York to make New Mexico her permanent home in 1949, and lived either at the Abiquiu or Ghost Ranch houses until 1984, when she moved to Santa Fe because of ill health (she died in 1986). 

The tour includes both the exterior (including her gardens) and the interior of the home and her studio,  Most of the rooms are furnished and equipped just as she left it.  I had seen a documentary on her where she was interviewed at the Abiquiu home, so I could picture her wandering through the home.  The tour guide was wonderful in providing historical background and photos.  But you got the real sense of Georgia O'Keeffe through the furnishings and the natural objects that served as are alongside her own paintings.  She saw beauty in rocks and skulls and other mementos from the surrounding land.

Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed on the Abiquiu home tour, so you will have to come see it for yourself!  If you are interested, please be aware that you must get reservations in advance for either tours and apparently, they can be hard to come by at certain times of the year.  We are so glad that we planned in advance and had this wonderful opportunity to see the homes and countryside of a truly great master artist.  I look forward to our visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

Some links for more info:'Keeffe

On the way back to our campground on Abiquiu Lake, we stopped at "Echo Ampitheater" -- part of the Carson National Forest.  A pathed trail leads to the natural rock ampitheater that has teh echoing acoustical qualities of its name.  A fun side trip if you are in this area.

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Nancy Starling Ross on

You are nearing our part of the country. We'll be at our ranch this weekend (May 8and 9th) if you get up that way. Give us a call at (719)378-2856. Let us know if you need a place to stay - our guest house is always open to you whether we are there or not....You can also always reach me at (303) 246-8007. Hope to see you!!

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