SERENITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SUN: Remembering Santa Fe & Taos

Brooding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Santa Fe Indian Museum, New Mexico Skies

Sometimes, I am compelled to take NJWILDBEAUTY readers into my ‘memory bank’, especially on gloomy New Jersey days.  The entire sky this morning is filmed with grey, –somewhere between fog and soot.   It’s hard for me even to remember sun. But it was ever-present in Santa Fe and Taos in the spring.

StoryTeller Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

STORYTELLER, BY A. E. HOUSER, Santa Fe Indian Museum

Two of ‘my’ Intrepids and I, as you know, undertook a Georgia O’Keefe pilgrimage in Santa Fe and Taos.  Janet Black and Jeanette Hooban were part of this quest. Carolyn Yoder is the fourth — not present in O’Keeffe Country at that time.  Sometimes we call ourselves The Four Musketeers — Janet (of Manhattan) being d’Artagnan; as in not always near enough to partake of every challenge.  All for one and one for all, and always seeking — art, history, courage..

In Houser’s “Storyteller” above, a man’s image of a strong woman inspires us, “stiffens our spines” in the urgent causes on every side in thus 21st Century.

Motherhood Pearl Buck Estate July 2017

Motherhood statue at Pearl S. Buck Estate — Buck adopted six children of mixed race, spent her lifetime insisting  upon honoring what we now call ‘diversity’

Pearl Buck Grave July 2017

“Gone, but Not Forgotten” — Pearl S. Buck’s being and ideals

Here, she rests in her beloved Bucks County, PA,

surrounded by bamboo and lilies.

All four of us, as you well know, require regular doses of strong women, Eleanor (Roosevelt, of course) above all.  Abigail Adams.  Pearl S. Buck.  And Georgia, always Georgia, — modern in art and dress and life, before there was much ‘modern’ in the United States.  As this interweaving of strong women unfolds this morning, I sense that each, that all, would insistently approve of the motto of Al Gore’s splendid new film on climate change: “BE INCONVENIENT!”  (This has become my motto for my upcoming birthday year.”

All of these women lived by strong and high ideals.  Each engendered practical change, against all odds, from the 1700s through the 20th Century.  They stood against prejudice and insularity, for compassion and courage.  They took bold actions; wrote strong words; painted reverberant works to convey the truths by which they lived.  We honor them, especially by visiting their sites, for courage, for being the original Intrepids.

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Augustus St. Gauden’s Statue in Washington D.C., which comforted Eleanor in her travails.

Riverside Park Statue Eleanor Rroosevelt-

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, Riverside Park, NYC

Prayer Santa Fe Indian Museum

Prayer, by A. E. Houser: Santa Fe Indian Museum

When I began this blog, I thought it was going to be about wallowing in the wild, complex, ever-changing sunlight on the mountains and adobes of New Mexico.

Adobe Outbuilding Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

Sun on Simple Adobe, so very Georgia! (Indian Museum, Santa Fe)

The Universe had other ideas.  I need to enshroud myself with strength and courage.

fig. 78: Alfred Stieglitz

Iconic Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz from Internet

The world as we know it is being altered exponentially, by political forces seemingly beyond our control.  I’ve ‘been there’ before,   as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese sought to rearrange the world.  I never understood how the Germans or the Italians could go along with those tyrants.

It never occurred to me that our own country could be usurped and taken in directions with which most of us do not agree.  Politically and climactically, we are poised to lose everything we hold dear.

Abigail and Eleanor and Pearl and Georgia stood firm against currents of their time.  For women, for freedoms, for children of other lands, for art, for feminine dress itself, in Georgia’s time, and against prejudice..

It’s up to us to do likewise.

Abigail Adams Portrait from Internet

“John, remember the women,” Abigail Adams 1770’s –As Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, were being composed…

In the lexicon of Alfred Stieglitz, publicizing all art, especially Georgia’s, ” The spiritual was opposed to material and modern art was materialism’s antidote,” insists the catalogue from “Georgia O’Keeffe, Living Modern”, [Brooklyn Museum exhibition].  Brilliantly authored by Wanda M. Corn, it goes on to assert that “Stieglitz described his artists, not as ordinary beings, but as gifted modern seers.” He found their avant-garde work “healing and therapeutic for those living in an age dominated by commerce and business.”  

Realize that Stieglitz and O’Keefe’s first command of the art stage took place in the 1920’s!

As the values of our Founding Fathers and Mothers, our powerful authors, out iconic artists are increasingly trampeled, “BE INCONVENIENT!?

The Harsh Southwestern Landscape seems a breeding ground for strength:

Late Afternoon Santa Fe Indian Museum

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.

millicent-rogers-and-her-jewelry

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.

 

 

RETURN TO THE SOUTHWEST

“A green and pleasant day” of hikes, today (Friday), on New Jersey’s Bull’s Island, in the middle of the Delaware River.

Delaware's Watery Beauty, Spring

Azalea Season, View of Pennsylvania from woods on Bull’s Island, NJ

Followed by a sinuous, climbing drive up the Delaware’s other bank, into deeply forested Pennsylvania.  Silos rose against a gentle sky, and farmstands lured with hand-lettered signs.

Fay Lachmann, key adventure buddy who has been in other geographies lately, initiated this excursion.  As she drove, Fay reminisced about recent blogs on Janet’s Jeanette’s and my Santa Fe and Taos journey.

Carversville inn PA Jan. 2015

Carversville Inn, Carversville PA, decorated for Christmas

Our goal was Carversville, its storied Inn.  We settled into possibly my best meal ever in that 1800s structure.  Fay’s enthusiasm for wild skies, weathered adobe, sagebrush seas in my recent blogs suffused me with longing for our Southwest.

In the midst of all that greenery, I decided to come home and take NJWILDBAUTY readers back to Santa Fe.  I have left a part of my soul in that land of sand and sage and juniper, walking amongst the quaint and the rustic; challenged and intrigued by the tough and the vivid.

I especially miss art at every turn.  Here is Canyon Road of Santa Fe, Gallery Central, unfurling like a tapestry beneath technicolor skies.

Santa Fe W indows Canyon Road

Santa Fe Wall, Canyon Road

Blue Swan and Water 'Feature'  Canyon Road Scenes 001

Blue Swan and “Water Feature” — Canyon Road Gallery

Native  Canyon Road

Essence of the Southwest, Canyon Road

locoweed Canyon Road Scenes

Jimson Weed Blooms on Canyon Road

Canyon Road Mailboxes

Small Town Mailboxes, Vivid Curb, Canyon Road Galleries

Master Gardeners of Santa Fe Art Canyon Road

The Secret Garden of Canyon Road, Tended (especially WATERED!) by Santa Fe’s Master Gardeners

Symphony in Blue Canyon Road

Symphony in Blue, courtesy of Santa Fe’s Master Gardeners

Columbine Canyon Road

Classic Western Flower — Columbine

Bliss on a Colonial Swing of Canyon Road

Blissed! Intrepids at Rest on swing of colonial house, facing garden

Colonial Retreat Canyon Road

Leaving the Porch, to return to Canyon Road itself

Beneath Old Adobe  Canyon Road

What’s Underneath Very Old Adobe

Vintage Doorway Canyon Road

Vintage Santa Fe Doorway

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.

Brooding  Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

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:

Ready for Battle

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

End of Trail at Santa Fe Museum Indian Arts etc.

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…

 

 

GHOST RANCH ~ GEORGIA O’KEEFFE AT HOME NEAR TAOS

Janet Black, Jeanette Hooban and I, –as July was born-, traveled to New Mexico on a Georgia O’Keeffe Quest.  Firstly, in Santa Fe.  Then to her home and studio in Abiquiu, near Taos; then to Ghost Ranch, where she first leased, then owned a house in the Southwest.

I remain speechless before the magnitude of beauty we encountered at every turn, every moment bringing cataclysmic changes in clouds, shadows and drama.

We are more inspired than ever by the  lofty talents of this artist – so abstract and unique so young (in 1915, 16, etc.!), like no one else anywhere ever.  Thiw woman cannot be described nor encompassed.  Georgia belonging to no ‘school’, painted from within.

As you see, this phenomenal artist was inspired by what she claimed as her everyday surroundings.  Her sites and sights would overwhelm ordinary mortals. But Georgia immortalized mountain majesty, without descending, even momentarily, into the trite or the trivial.

We learned nothing of her literary influences.  But Georgia lived her life on EVERY level, according to the key lines of Hamlet:  “… and this, above all… to thine own self be true…”

Janet, Jeanette and I walked very slowly away from the Georgia-sites.  We now have a new yardstick for life:  “What would Georgia do?”

 

Ghost Ranch Gate

GHOST RANCH GATE – Georgia O’Keefe’s First Southwest Homeland

Ghost Ranch Gate with Bullet Dents

GHOST RANCH SKULL — GATE — NOTE BULLET HOLES — This is the West!

Ghost Ranch Gate Ranch Side

GHOST RANCH GATE, RANCH SIDE

Ghost Ranch Wagon

GHOST RANCH WAGON AND SOUTHWEST’S CLOUDS

Ghost Ranch Wagon and OKeeffe Mountains

GHOST RANCH WAGON, COTTONWOOD AND GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MOUNTAINS

Ghost Ranch Cabin

GHOST RANCH CABIN

Classic Acequia Ghost Ranch

GHOST RANCH ACEQUIA — TO BRING WATER FROM RIO GRANDE

Ghost Ranch Flags and Clouds

GHOST RANCH FLAGS AND CLOUDS

Georgia's Pink Rocks near Ghost Ranch

GEORGIA ROCKS NEAR GHOST RANCH

Ghost Ranch Ride from Abiauiu

GEORGIA’S RIDE FROM GHOST RANCH HOME TO ABIQUIU AND BACK

The Cloud-Builder Ghost Ranch Drive

THE CLOUD-BUILDER

We felt as though we could walk across the Rio Grande (Grand-ee) – which Janet re-named ‘The Rio Petito’.

Rio Grande near Ghost Ranch

RIO GRANDE NEAR GHOST RANCH

Rio Grand Islands near Ghost Ranch

RIO GRANDE ISLANDS EN ROUTE TO AND FROM GHOST RANCH

Georgia OKeeffes Mountain  Pedernal Ghost Ranch ride

GEORGIA’S MOUNTAIN – THE PEDERNAL

Ghost Ranch Georgia Hues

WHY SHE PAINTED WHAT SHE PAINTED!

Ghost Ranch Surroundings Pedernal OKeeffes ashes here

PEDERNAL — WHERE HER ASHES WERE SCATTERED