Muse to Georgia O’Keeffe


Portrait of Rebecca Strand by Alfred Stieglitz, 1924

Last fall the Lifetime network aired Georgia O’Keeffe, a television drama that captured the stormy relationship between O’Keeffe and her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. A character named “Beck” had some nominal appearances in the production. At the time it was unclear to this viewer who exactly “Beck” was or how she fit into O’Keeffe’s life. “Beck,” I have learned recently, is the nickname for Rebecca Salsbury James, the pioneering artist who first brought O’Keeffe to New Mexico from the East Coast in 1929 and was eventually considered her muse. Now the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos is paying tribute to James with an exhibition of her glass artworks and embroidery, which she created in the traditional Spanish Colonial needlework style known as colcha. “Beck” was once married to prominent photographer Paul Strand. After her divorce from Strand, she remarried and remained in Taos for the next 40 years. In addition to her artworks, the exhibit features photographs by both Strand and Stieglitz. “Rebecca Salsbury James: Paintings and Colchas” is on view through June 6. –Bonnie Gangelhoff

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