O’Keeffe that is!
Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!
What a fun weekend I had! My younger daughter and I traveled to Winston-Salem, NC (our hometown) Friday evening to celebrate my sister’s birthday and to experience Gallery Hop. What is Gallery Hop? Well, Winston’s downtown area has revitalized and there are many wonderful restaurants, shops, and art galleries. On the first Friday of each month, several downtown streets are closed to traffic, and the artisan galleries open their doors to the public, displaying their works. My sister is a talented artist. She shares a studio, “Art Cellar Studio”, with 2 other artists. Their studio and the other artists in their building participated in Gallery Hop. It was a lovely night – the weather was perfect! We met my sister and brother-in-law downtown at Sweet Potatoes for a wonderful dinner and were able to eat outside. Then we visited her studio and the others in her building, where I got to see a high school friend whose career is that of a truly accomplished, professional artist. We spent the evening strolling downtown, going in and out of other galleries and shops. By the way, my sister sold 2 paintings Friday night!
“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
“To create one’s own world takes courage.” Georgia O’Keeffe
Saturday morning we toured Reynolda House Museum of American Art. Their featured exhibition, “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” is wonderful! I thought I knew who Georgia O’Keeffe was – I mean everyone recognizes her red poppy picture, right? But that one was not even included in the exhibition. After viewing the exhibit, I realized that I truly had no idea who Georgia O’Keeffe was. She was a modernistic artist whose dominant colors were black and white in both her art and her clothing. She was discovered and made famous by her well-known photographer husband who loved photographing her. Honestly, looking at some of her art, you wonder if someone else had painted and presented these pieces, would they have been considered valuable art? Then there are others that take your breath away. What dynamics. By the way, O’Keeffe spent time in VA, specifically in Charlottesville and studied art at UVA!
“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.” Georgia O’Keeffe
More than O’Keeffe’s art was on exhibit. Photographs of her taken by Alfred Stieglitz (her husband), Ansel Adams and others, as well as many of her garments were displayed. She was known for wearing black and white and nothing was ever “fitted”. She made her early clothes and the detail of the garments was astounding. To this end, O’Keeffe reminds me of my grandmother Isabel, also an artist, who also made her clothes in such a detailed way. Both women were widowed at an early age, and both were extremely independent and strong women. But my grandmother loved colors in her clothing and in her art. O’Keeffe did not venture away from black and white until later in life when she moved from New York to New Mexico and the natural colors of the landscape and sky inspired her. Still, in most of the photographs and portraits she is clothed in black. And truly, you cannot tell if she is male or female, an example of her beliefs relating to “modern art, women’s culture, and identity formation.”
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Georgia O’Keeffe
O’Keeffe lived to the age of 98. She suffered from macular degeneration – how tragic for an artist.
Besides the O’Keeffe exhibit, we also toured the house and enjoyed the history surrounding this wonderful treasure. My daughter loves history and in the last couple of years I too have developed a greater interest. I cannot believe I lived in Winston-Salem for 40 years and never visited Reynolda House. Why is that? What a treasure it is. It was the country estate of RJ Reynolds (of tobacco fame – you’ve heard of Winston and Salem cigarettes?). Reynolds was credited with the economic development of Winston-Salem and was well known for his charitable contributions. His wife, Katherine, is responsible for the country estate which originally spanned 1,067 acres, and named it Reynolda (the feminine version of Reynolds). It was a model farm, producing all of their food, meat, and milk – the most modern dairy in the country at the time. In addition to the large house (they referred to it as a bungalow, but with 8 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, is that a bungalow?), there were horses, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a bowling alley, and even a golf course on site. Reading about their lives made me think of “Dynasty”. Remember that show back in the 1980’s? The glamorous and social lives of these people!
Funny story here about my Mom and grandmother: When my grandmother (a history buff) was still living, my mother would bring her up to visit me in Charlottesville and I would always plan a historic tour of Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson), or Highland (home of James Monroe). The last time we went to Highland, as I was purchasing our tickets, my grandmother said, “Why are we here?” “This is the home of James Monroe.” “Is he gonna be here?” “Lord I hope not – he has been dead for a LONG time.” “Then why are we here?” “Because it is history.” At this point I am paying for our tickets when my proper grandmother replies, “I don’t give a S#%T about history.” To which my also proper mother said, “You do like history Momma!” What she really liked was lunch at Michie’s Tavern on site! I thought the lady giving me our tickets was going to choke trying NOT to laugh. My mother was mortified! Today, this would be my mom and me … we have come full circle. And my poor children are thinking this will soon be their mother and them!
“History has no present – only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” John F. Kennedy
Reynolda House opened as a museum in 1967 and now boasts over 200 pieces of art. Wake Forest University sits on donated land from the Reynolds family. The 650 acres, including Reynolda Gardens, were donated to entice the university to move the campus. It worked.
So to continue celebrating my sister’s birthday, we picked up my brother-in-law and drove out to Jones-Von Drehle Vineyards and Winery in Thurmond, NC (about an hour from Winston). We had a wine tasting which was a lot of fun for my daughter who pours wine a couple weekends a month in Virginia. The owner, who was familiar with our Virginia wineries, poured for us which made it more special. We all got a glass of wine and toasted my sister’s birthday and enjoyed the scenery of the winery. Finished the day meeting my younger sister and mom for a birthday dinner downtown at West End Cafe. Bless her heart, but Mom kept asking “is it my birthday?” What a fun weekend and so special to celebrate my sister’s birthday in person.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
We did miss the Carolina game (another loss) but will be back tailgating when UNC hosts UVA Saturday. Yes, another fun weekend planned! I am so lucky to be able to spend time with my family. Go out and visit a museum or an art gallery. Broaden your horizons like I am as I keep myself busy, discovering new hobbies and embracing who I am in the newest chapter of my life. Like Georgia O’Keeffe when she moved to New Mexico. There’s a wonderful, fun world out there. Take advantage of any opportunity to spend time with those you love, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
See you next week.