Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's House in Abiquiu

Abiquiu Lake

Awesome is the best word I can use to describe our tour to Georgia O'Keeffe's house and studio. The tour is run by Georgia O'Keeffe Museum for which we made reservations by phone 10 days in advance. I understand that sometimes,especially in the summer. there can be a month or more wait. This is not surprising as the tour only runs three days a week from mid March through mid November (Saturday tours are added from June through October) with just five tours per day. Each tour is limited to twelve people at a time. No cameras are permitted

The meeting place is the Abiquiu Inn where the O'Keeffe tour office is located. After checking in we boarded a mini bus for our short five minute ride to the property. Located on a bluff close to the plaza of the small village of Abiquiu I was immediately struck by the beautiful grounds and spectacular view of the Chama River valley.

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable with a strong respect for O'Keeffe. She grew up and lives in Albiquiu as do most of the other people working for the tour group. She remembers seeing Ms. O'Keeffe walking in the village and met her on several occasions.

We began in the garden with an introduction to the general history related to O'Keeffe's purchase of the property. We also learned that she grew her own food and the strong impact of her gardener. The grandson of the original gardener now takes care of the property.

We could not enter all rooms as they have fragile floors so we viewed her main sitting room and dining room through a large window.  Later we also viewed her bedroom through large windows.

Our first stop in entering the house was an interior patio made famous by the pictures she painted of the "black door" and of photo's of her in this space. This was indeed a very special spot with an almost sacred feeling. A large fragrant sage brush neatly trimmed dominated the center.

The sense of the outside spilling into the inside by large windows was obvious in the kitchen where,besides a table near a large window,a sofa was also placed so one could sit and enjoy the  incredible view.

The living space is 5,000 square feet and O'Keeffe's studio and bedroom are actually a separate building linked by a garden. Again both the studio and bedroom are filled with light from outside.  The studio is quite large and contains two of her paintings. One of the paintings was inspired by an airplane ride observing the floor of clouds below and the second by her view of the Washington monument.  A small original sculpture was featured on a small table.  

Her bedroom featured two sides of windows giving her wonderful views of the valley below and the hills in the near distance. 

Our guide highlighted her commentary by showing reprints of paintings that illustrated how views on the property had inspired paintings. She also read comments written by O'Keeffe when appropriate.

Cameras, cell phones, purses are not allowed. This keeps the tour focused and attention on the guide. The tour costs $30 per person ($25 for seniors 65 or older). Saturday tours are $40 with no discounts. Reservations can be made by calling: 505-685-4539. I highly recommend the tour.

After the tour we had a delightful lunch at the Abiquiu Inn and then visited the Abiguiu Lake about 6 miles further up the road.  We had driven by Ghost Ranch a year before and decided to save a visit to Ghost Ranch for a later time.  Ghost Ranch is currently owned by The Presbyterian Church and is open to the public requiring no reservations.  We look forward to making a separate trip there and hiking some of the trails.  

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