Weekends with Georgia O'Keeffe: Beauty in Simplicity

Georgia O'Keeffe at her home in New Mexico. Image via proustitute.tumblr.com
I am fascinated by the lives of artists. I appreciate the work they produce, but I also love learning about the person behind that creativity, their life's journey, and how they spend their time. That's why I was delighted to read Weekends with O'keeffe, a book of journal entries, poetry, letters, and detailed observations made by writer and librarian C.S. Merrill. The author lived and worked closely with artist Georgia O'Keeffe during the later years of her life in New Mexico.  Merrill's meticulously detailed writings transport the reader to 1970s New Mexico, and feel as if they are an honored guest in O'Keeffe's home.

A journal entry from May 31st, 1974 reads:

Miss O'Keeffe is wearing a blue and white kimono over her nightgown when we arrived at 8:00 pm. I gave her a loaf of bread with walnuts and apricots in it. She sat on the white sofa in the kitchen eating bread and butter and told Virginia and me how the flowers and flowing lines on her kimono gave her the feeling water flowed over her. Groups of blue flowers on white with three parallel lines flowing around and between the groups give the feel of water. I called Miss Okeeffe's kimono a "flower fall." 

In Weekends with O'Keeffe, We learn so much about Georgia O'Keeffe as a person and how she lived her life on a daily basis.  She was someone who appreciated the little things: flowers budding in her garden, a good piece of bread or cheese, a visit from an old friend. These simple pleasures, along with the tasks that made up her daily routine, became even more dear to her as her eyesight began to weaken. By the time Merrill met her, O'Keeffe was nearly blind.

Red Canna by Georgia O'Keeffe, painted in 1923
C.S. Merrill was in her twenties when she met O'Keeffe, who invited Merrill to visit her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico after receiving a letter the author wrote her. Merrill fully understood and savored the magnitude of the occasion. After her initial visit with the artist, she tape recorded her thoughts: "I do this recording of the meeting out of responsibility to women in the future who must know what a strong, great lady Miss O'Keeffe is...I resort to my Panasonic tape recorder now, not out of disloyalty to Miss O'Keeffe's privacy, rather out of affection for the freer ladies of the future who may need a toughening influence from this great lady."

 Georgia O'Keeffe's impact on the course of American art is immeasurable. Her life's work and unwavering commitment to her vision also opened many doors for women in the arts. Weekends with O'Keeffe is a window into Georgia's world. Her reverence for the everyday serves as a reminder to look at what is right in front of us for inspiration.