Living there for three years, I came to find that Georgia O'Keeffe is a somewhat polarizing figure in Santa Fe. American artists are somewhat over her abstractions of landscapes and flowers (although there are about 2,000 O'Keeffe works, a huge amount of which are not landscapes and flowers). Native New Mexican's also resent her status as the painter of Northern New Mexico, especially since she isn't a native of the state.
I agree with this in that her fame has squelched the painterly fame of many a local; but I am also interested (being myself both a native of New Mexico and someone who was raised elsewhere) in both points of view: the insider's and the outsider's.
O'Keeffe is currently making her way into hearts and minds internationally and this is interesting to see. Therefore, the museum is most popular with tourists, no matter how much they try to fit in as a community museum.
Anywho, the latest issue had a quote that I want to share here because it applies to us poets. Writer Jackie M (yes, that's her full name) wrote a piece about the kind of role model O'Keffee might be. Although I'm a GeO'Keeffe fan and have read copious books on her, I hesitate to see her as a role model of artistic behavior. She was much more complicated that the heroic "feminist" painter Baby Boomers like to make her out to be. That said, Jackie M says something particularly interesting about what a life devoted to the arts requires. I'm going to list it as a checklist:
- "Recognizing one's interests and competencies,
- building skills and expertise through training and practice,
- the ability to face fears and challenges, to take risks and learn from failure--all of these contribute to the development of creativity.
- Resilience, allied with a balance of persistence and flexibility, imaginative thinking,
- intrinsic motivation, and being above to focus without being distracted can be found in how O'Keeffe approached her art and life. These are the ingredients for creative accomplishments in any field."
So succinct and true. How many writers do you know who fell by the wayside for lack of any one of these qualities, say lack of sustained focus, for example.