On the Road to Abiquiú and What I Discovered “Acknowledgeable Art”

As I prepared to journey to New Mexico for Christmas there were 3 things that I already knew as fact:

  1. I would be with people I love
  2. I would be surrounded by the beauty of a place I had a deep affection for
  3. And I would keep an open mind to discovering something new

The idea of discovering something new offers no guarantees but when it happens it can be life- changing or at the very least it gives you a new perspective.

As we traveled the road to Abiquiú that would eventually bring us to our destination, Ghost Ranch, I could not be in better company. Escorted by my spiritual guides, both my sister and our sister friend, we were met by both the beauty of the insulating snow around us and the natural warmth of our wonderful server Angela at the local inn, all welcoming for a Florida girl, like myself.   

No matter how I spin it I was just a tourist in search of an experience with the benefit of listening to the conversation of my travel companions. They talked about the history of the landscape, the people and activities in this oasis of northern New Mexico like fishing along the Rio Chauma River.

A perfect day, 15 miles from the inn to Ghost Ranch, I imagined Georgia O’Keeffe arriving at the ranch after her solitary journey in 1934. It was the artist that drew us to the ranch. Although originally disappointed to find out that Ghost Ranch was a designated dude ranch, O’Keeffe eventually made it her home and a place where she created many of her beautiful paintings.

The reins of our education at the ranch was now in the hands of our educational guide Karen who taught us Ghost Ranch’s history and discovering it was so much greater than just about Georgia O’Keeffe, however, it was the artist I was seeking a connection to.  

The ranch’s history is as vast as its 22,000-acre landscape and it instantly became obvious to me its attraction to those that were searching for that experience of a western retreat or a backdrop for inspiration. I like those before me, was excited about the uniqueness of this place and encountering a new experience.

But what would it be?

We were initially greeted by our guide and learning the ranch history. As we later boarded a bus and took our seats all 15 of us were no longer tourists but now we were students and our guide Karen became our teacher. The one thing I realized what we all had in common was each of us wanted to be there while we traveled the long road to get to Ghost Ranch just like the artist did. We now wanted to witness not just what she painted but where she stood to create her art.

Our teacher prepared us throughout the tour pointing out the actual sights along the way where O’Keeffe selected to paint. Our driver John would stop the bus allowing us to get off, so we could stand and get close to the very spots she may have dragged her canvas and painted.

One of the stops we visited was the dead cedar tree she painted in homage to writer Gerald Heard titled Gerald’s Tree(see below). Karen, our teacher, held up an 8X11 print in front of us, of the painting relaying the story how he apparently danced around the tree leaving footprints, as depicted in the lower left corner while inspiring O’Keeffe to paint it.

O'Keeffe Gerald’s Tree

It was after we left the site my sister text me this photo, she snapped of me standing in front of the actual dead cedar tree as painted in Gerald’s Tree. Surprised and intrigued  my reaction was simple, This is acknowledgeable art, a connection I had been hoping for.  

  O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch  

Not that I find this picture of myself particularly flattering, I saw myself as part of the natural landscape that was used in the very spot both the artist and her subject matter stood and made their mark. I don’t see myself as an interloper but as if I could have stumbled into the painting, an extension of the work intended to delight an admirer of the artist, myself.

I recognize and am deeply grateful for the beauty of O’Keeffe’s work, her journey and personal commitment to her life on the ranch, her stories behind creating her works and lastly my fantasy of being part of her work. This is what I refer to Acknowledgeable Art.

*** I dedicate this to post to the friends and beautiful people of New Mexico I encountered along the way on my trip. I especially acknowledge our dear sister friend Diane Pinkey who is the best guide one can have where ever one travels and to my sister Shelley who always makes it happen.

And of course Georgia O.! 

“Gratitude is a miracle of its own recognition. It brings out a sense of appreciation and sincerity of a being.” ― Auliq-Ic

Aging Creative is committed to inspiring self-expression in all of us.

Please share any acknowlegeable art photos you may have.

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