I am not sure when I first became aware of Georgia O'Keeffe. The fact that I have drawn, photographed, and painted clouds and landscapes since I was a kid—and the fact that I have also been enamored of the Southwest since I was a kid—may have segued into my love for O'Keeffe. I am almost seventy years old now, and I really cannot remember when O'Keeffe has not been a part of my being.
I do know that O'Keeffe greatly impacted my college years (I have a BA in studio art) during the late 1960s/early 1970s. College is when I became seriously interested in O'Keeffe as a person—her art and life, and her love for the Southwest. She was still painting in New Mexico when I was taking art courses in college, and this was still several years before the first comprehensive publication of her work— Viking Press' Georgia O'Keeffe, 1976. The more I read about her and the more I studied her art, the more I liked her. I even contemplated, for a time, moving to the Southwest to pursue a "life of art." This did not happen. I have lived the majority of my life in California, having worked thirty-seven years for the J. Paul Getty Museum and Trust, but I have certainly traveled extensively throughout the Southwest over the years, including, of course, the "land of O'Keeffe."
I am still actively in pursuit of the arts. But instead of becoming the kind of artist O'Keeffe was—to paint with oils and watercolors—I paint with fabric. I am what is known in the world of quilting as an "art quilter." I do not create quilts for the bedroom. Instead I create art made of fabric that one can hang on a wall. And O'Keeffe is still very much with me as I do my art. I tend to combine bright, pure colors (like O'Keeffe, I don't much care for a dismal-colored palette) into fairly simple improvisational designs. Most of my current work is abstract. However, O'Keeffe's favorite Pedernal mesa will pop up in my work from time to time. I have done many studies of the Pedernal in fabric, because I, like O'Keeffe, am enamored of that mesa. My pieces are usually small studies—that I call "quilt sketches"—and rarely measure more than twenty-five inches square, and many are much smaller.
When I finally decided to create a living trust several years ago, it was an easy decision to leave a goodly part of my estate to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I have to admit that I was very excited when I realized that I could actually do this. O'Keeffe has been a positive influence in my life in many ways and for many, many years. She has been like a fantastic encouraging sister to me, and it makes me very happy that I can contribute to her continuing legacy by way of my estate.
March 21, 2018