Without a doubt the iconic modern American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe, claimed Abiquiu, a town north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as her own. She first came to the region on a vacation trip in 1917, just before Alfred Steiglitz launched her career in New York City. Not until 10 years later did she return. During this second visit she caught her first view of Ghost Ranch, though from a distance. Five years later she actually discovered the location of the ranch and learned that it was a guest lodging. She stayed for the summer.
There followed many trips back and forth between New Mexico and New York as O’Keeffe continued to spend summers at Ghost Ranch, eventually buying a small cabin nearby. In 1945, she acquired a year-round home in Abiquiu, a ruined adobe residence that she and her architect, Maria Chabot, renovated and expanded. She took up permanent residence in this home in 1949 and remained in the Abiquiu until she was 96. At that point she moved to Santa Fe to be closer to medical care. She died at 98 in 1986.
Today visitors can tour the Abiquiu home and studio by appointment on a guided tour. The cabin at the Ghost Ranch is not open to the public, but on a guided bus tour of the Ghost Ranch the exterior is an option. Information is available at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.
The beautiful multi-colored mountain landscape dominating the Chama River valley is available to everyone, even though, in many published statements, O’Keeffe claimed it as her own. Of the Pedernal she said: “If I paint it often enough, God will give it to me.” Her ashes were scattered there, on its lofty basalt crown.
Many artists have found inspiration in the Abiquiu region. Read about landscape painter Louisa McElwain in the March 2010 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.
Louisa McElwain: Oil Landscapes of the Southwest
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