The Eyes

The Eyes

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the Road to Santa Fe

Red Hills with the Pedernal
19.75 in. x 29.75 in. | Oil on Linen
Georgia O'Keeffe | 1936
I’ve heard it said the light and color in Santa Fe are beautiful. It was much more than that—it was dramatic. Expecting a brown-laden desert, I instead found an exquisite terrain of burnt umber and spots of green vegetation, mountains of blue with purple veins, and the hills bursting of orange and red. Filled with history, museums, and galleries, I found myself drawn to the landscape as much as the art. I was entranced by some stunning art at both the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art, but I also experienced the same awe those artists drawn to the area must have felt when they absorbed it, and in turn, put to canvas their interpretation of that magnificence.

Walking in Santa Fe on a recent August evening, I looked to the sky and saw the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen. I quickened my pace back to the hotel for my camera to try to capture that image on film. However, it was just a moment. Within minutes it had changed, and in just a few more minutes while searching frantically for the perfect vantage point, it was gone. That’s the way it was there—ever-changing and constantly evolving. I can only imagine how excited O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and scads of others artists were to transfer that imagery to canvas. I’ve long admired the work they executed with Santa Fe as their backdrop. But, it wasn’t until I visited the area that I truly appreciated what they had accomplished!

My interest in O’Keeffe has been awakened by what I learned about her and the landscape she loved. She always knew what she was meant to do, and she pursued it with passion. Departing Santa Fe in the early morning again was something special to see. From walking out of the small airport’s rust-colored adobe structure onto the tarmac, to seeing the unobstructed panoramic view of light streaked with dozens of hues of blue that seemed to emanate from the ground up while boarding the plane, and floating over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains high on the brilliance of color and the play of light—it was very surreal. I fell in love with Santa Fe.