NjWILDBEAUTY readers know that three of the Intrepids — Jeanette Hooban, Janet Black and I — pursued a Georgia-O’Keeffe-Quest in Santa Fe and Taos. On this grey day in this week of not only no sun, seemingly never sun, I journey back into the southwest’s sunlit scenes. Come with us. Help me realize that somewhere, surely, sun is gleaming.
Frail early light in a southwest olive tree, weathered classic adobe and a cloudless sky greeted first visitors at the Millicent Rogers Museum on our last full Taos Day. This ‘glamourwoman’ was one of a constellation of strong-minded females who turned this tiny New Mexico town into a 20th Century arts mecca. Georgia O’Keeffe and Mabel Dodge Luhan were key members of the major triumvirate. Feisty, original, independent to the core, weaving in other luminaries of both genders, –such as D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda; the luminous Ansel Adams; Mark Strand — photographer whose extreme cropping heavily influenced Georgia O’Keeffe; her long-time friend and travel companion, connoisseur/collector David McAlpin; and, oh, yes, the entire Taos ‘School’ of artists — these worldly women linked Taos to the world.
Millicent Rogers became devoted to American Indian culture of the Southwest, of Taos in particular. This is not just any turquoise jewelry, in the picture provided by her museum. They are among the finest early 20th-Century Navajo pieces, of which Millicent was a renowned connoisseur and promoter. Rogers earned world renown for her passion for the first truly American art form. She was equally sought after for her own massive, dramatic, ‘unignorable’ jewelry designs. A ‘cover girl’ in every sense of the word, she shared brilliance, originality, independence, and depths with her Taos ‘sisters’-in-creativity.
We spent ‘the shank of the day’ ‘with Millicent’, learning Taos through her fascinated, discriminating eyes. Our entire journey was justified by the treasure trove of Navajo pieces, alight with resonant early turquoise, in gleaming cases on all sides. We marveled at Millicent’s designs, and that this slender woman could carry off works of such massive majesty.
Remote as we found Taos, –set like fine turquoise in the bezel of the Sangre de Christo range –, last summer, this haven seems even more impossible back in New Jersey. Tethered to my desk, creating art receptions at D&R Greenway as I did last night, sending releases to all our media partners every week as I do. I can feel as though The Intrepids must have dreamed our journey. But I wear my own perfect turquoise pendant, bought while kneeling in Santa Fe, literally rapt with respect, before Navajo Grandmother Verdie Mae Lie. It is very simple, chosen for color, gleam and lustre. Her mark, incised behind the stone, strengthens me in times of challenge
Crafting this post, this drizzly morning, I see that my own passion for preserving New Jersey lands has been amplified and deepened by the wise women of the Southwest, especially, today, the glamorous Millicent Rogers.