ON SUNLESS MORN, SOUTHWEST MEMORIES

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.

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Early Morning, Millicent Rogers Museum

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.

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Millicent Rogers sitting in a chair wearing a sweater set and many pieces of turquoise jewelry        Millicent Rogers Museum Caption

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.

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The Dramatic Millicent Rogers as photographed for Manhattan-based magazine article

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Abstract Doorway — Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sun and Shadow — Courtyard, Millicent Rogers Museum

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.

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Millicent’s Navajo Collection – one shelf of one case

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Millicent Design — Mostly Diamonds

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Looking Out from Within Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sangre de Christo Range, Taos, from Millicent Rogers Museum

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BEST OF TAOS! — Millicent Rogers Museum in Early Light

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

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Ms. Rogers, Wearing one of her Own Designs

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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.

 

 

WALKING SANTA FE STREETS WITH THE INTREPIDS

Land of Enchantment

LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

Your traveling blogger greatly appreciates the intense comments on our recent Taos scenes.  We began our trip to the High Desert in Santa Fe, coming in on a golden evening, heading from Albuquerque’s airport to Santa Fe’s ordinary but acceptable Best Western.  Next door was a shop whose sign read “Unlimited Firearms — Big Discounts for Cash”.  One of their major windstorms soon played havoc with the sign before I could photograph it for NJWILDBEAUTY.  This is not the form of ‘wild’ I had in mind when I named this communication op…  I considered going INto that shop to see what I could see…  Was not so ‘intrepid’, after all…

La Fonda Lunch Bell Tower

END OF THE TRAIL

The heart of Santa Fe is no longer the holy faith after which it was named.  Nor even the cathedral of Archbishop Lamy.  It is La Fonda Hotel.  Hundreds of years old, its name signifies the end of the, YES!, Santa Fe Trail.  We ate in every one of its restaurants, each more interesting and gratifying than the previous, even a French one for afternoon respite from the inescapable dazzle of sun.

High Noon Welcome La Fonda Bell Tower

BELL TOWER RESTAURANT — HIGH NOON — Note container of lemon/lime/ ice/water for arriving guests

We went West for Georgia O’Keeffe.  Know that Georgia’s spirit prevails in her museum in Santa Fe and home/studio in Abiquiu.  This museum held her earliest, most abstract, even most daring (nude self portraits in watercolor) works.  We had always known there was  more to Georgia than flowers and skulls and storms over Lake George.  Her museum and her home/studio proved this indelibly.  We might dare to call Georgia an original Intrepid, along, of course, with Eleanor (Roosevelt).

Object of our Quest Santa Fe

OBJECT OF OUR JOURNEY – GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM OF SANTA FE

The most exciting aspect of Santa Fe for me was the museum of Indian Arts and Culture.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves.  Just know, –if you’re a fan of Maria’s black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery–, you can feast your eyes on it in Santa Fe and Taos.  You will find whole rooms dedicated to this master artist.  You will even see her clothing and her own personal Navajo jewelry, in your wanderings.  You may depart even more impressed/committed, even obsessed, than ever.

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Afternoon at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

A few Museum of Indian Arts and Culture scenes for you – full blog later.  We spent our entire afternoon up there!  We particularly could not resist returning to this icon:

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READY FOR BATTLE – Outdoor sculpture at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

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REPLETE! — THE END OF THE TRAIL; Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The West thrilled and filled.  Our hearts, our spirits often return there.  We greatly miss BEING there.  But a certain level of roughness is required.  And, as Janet gently observed, “I have to keep reminding myself that lawlessness is the norm.”  I require that level of light, those levels of change in the clouds.  I could return to find ‘my’ Navajo woman and her luminous art and liquid language on the hem of Santa Fe’s Governor’s Palace.  But I will always be a visitor.

Santa Fe Silhouette at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

MY HEART REMAINS

New Jersey and Pennsylvania wildnesses are filling me anew.  And Lenapes are replacing Navajo and Apache and Hopi and Tewa.  Most of the time…