I lived in Santa Fe for about a year in the third grade. I don't have fond memories of going to school there, and I can't remember any of the kids or teachers at the school. I suspect that this is because I have managed to block them all out. Still, it was in art class there that I learned to appreciate my favourite painter, Georgia O'Keefe. The main thing that we have in common is that we both love northern New Mexico. In the Chicago Institute of Art this weekend I was listening to the recorded audio tour tell me about a painting she had done of New York City before, as the audio tour put it, she went to New Mexico and became the artist that we all think of as Georgia O'Keefe. The painting in question is less of New York itself, and more of the light behind a building obliterating a dark tall monolith. It is a painting of the city but like much of her work it is organic. I've seen paintings like this of hers before in books. I may have even seen this painting years before and forgotten the details. It's interesting and thrilling to experience an artist before she becomes that artist everyone “knows” she is, even in retrospect. I know her style and I seek comfort in it, even when she paints New York instead of New Mexico.
I turned the corner and saw across the hallway two iconic paintings of hers from her New Mexico years and I gasp a little. Even after all these years I can see her work and feel everything that I feel about New Mexico in an instant. It is a complicated feeling, with many dimensions and thoughts attached, but I think the one with the largest magnitude is homesick. When I left New Mexico in 2000 to find my fortune, I could not get out of the state soon enough. I wanted to see the world (and I am not sorry that I did), but now I think if I could arrange it, the land of enchantment is amongst the few places in the world that I would hesitate to move back to permanently.( some of her paintings )