by adeline talbot

A few weeks ago I did a post for Cherri Megasko's blog 'Bucket List Travel Club'.  While Studio Traveler's focus is primarily cultural, Cherri's blog is all about adventure travel.   In discussing post options we thought it would be fun to 'bridge the gap' with a destination that would combined the two.  The perfect destination came to me almost unbidden--Abiquiu, New Mexico.  To read that post on Cherri's blog CLICK HERE.  

For a bit more on Abiquiu's most famous resident read on... 

Photo Credit: Paul Davies

As almost anyone can tell you Georgia O'Keeffe was a painter--and when I say 'almost anyone can tell you' I suspect this is not too much of a stretch.  Quite independent of our interests or pursuits, the stature of some  people just seem to be breathed in with our national air.  I offer as what I think as a rather compelling example of this truth the fact that I now know who Jordan Spieth is, how old he is, where he is from and most certainly what he did to make us proud.  Some knowledge you get from just being alive.  And so it is, I suspect, with Georgia O'Keeffe.

But familiarity is different from affinity--that all important sense of connection to the work itself.  For me a connection to O'Keeffe's work was a long time coming.  I liked the paintings well enough but was not moved by nor particularly interested in them.  That changed a few years ago with a visit to O'Keeffe's house in Abiquiu, one of her two primary residencies for the second half of her life.  The sense of her aesthetic is so rich and vivid there that I found it created a kind of portal into her work.  

Photo Credit: WikiArt

This is not to say that a great house or a good life story, for that matter, can be made to stand in for talent.  The talent has to be there but when it is there is just something about seeing a house--with the undeniable intentionality of its domestic arrangements--that feels as intimate as visit and as useful as a map.  I found this to be as true at O'Keeffe's house at Abiquiu as I did on a visit to Donald Judd's house in Marfa, Texas.  Donald Judd's work has always had an appeal to me.  I just like it on the level of instinct.  I did not 'need' the house as a way into the work but it sure did to add pleasure and depth to the experience of it.  

Photo by SumikoPhoto/iStock / Getty Images

So go to Abiquiu if you are lucky enough to be out that way or to Marfa if you are really ready for your off the beaten track adventure. Both offer a chance to add to your knowledge and appreciation of two great American artists.  As it happens both are also areas that have have excellent wilderness experiences in close proximity.  Must be something about landscape.  These big spaces draw us all in.  It's the great and the talented among us that sometime decide to stay behind and make of it a world...