Montclair Art Museum Presents "Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land"

Exhibition premieres at the Montclair Art Museum September 28, 2012–January 20, 2013
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O Keeffe
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Montclair - New Jersey - US

Aug. 31, 2012 - PRLog -- The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) presents Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land. The exhibition is co-curated by Barbara Buhler Lynes, former curator, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and former Emily Fisher Landau Director, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center; and Carolyn Kastner, associate curator. It is organized at MAM by Gail Stavitsky, chief curator. Its appearance at MAM, where it will be on view September 28, 2012–January 20, 2013, marks the premiere of this traveling exhibition.

The exhibition includes 15 rarely seen O’Keeffe paintings and drawings of eight different Hopi Katsinam (carved and painted representations of spirit beings), along with examples of these types of figures. It establishes a context for these materials by including over 30 examples of O’Keeffe’s paintings of New Mexico’s architecture and cultural objects, as well as her New Mexico landscapes, illuminating a relatively unknown component of O’Keeffe’s art and influences: her awareness of, keen sensitivity toward, and deep respect for the Native American and Hispano cultures of the region.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) began spending part of the year living and working in New Mexico in 1929, a pattern she rarely altered until 1949. She then made northern New Mexico her permanent home three years after the death of Alfred Stieglitz, her husband, celebrated photographer and America’s first advocate of modern art. O’Keeffe was inspired to paint and draw New Mexico’s distinctive churches, crosses, folk art, and katsina tithu (commonly referred to as Katsina dolls or Kachina dolls), as well as the astonishingly beautiful, painted desert that surrounded her Ghost Ranch house.

During her first two summers in the area, O’Keeffe stayed in the home of her friend Mabel Dodge Luhan and her husband, Tony, a member of the Taos Pueblo, and painted the landscape surrounding Mabel’s property, including the adjacent Taos Pueblo land. O’Keeffe took camping trips with Mabel, Tony, and others to sacred Taos Pueblo lands. She also observed numerous ceremonial dances at, among others, the Taos, Cochiti, and Santo Domingo Pueblos, which she continued to do throughout her life.

The New Mexico landscape remained a prominent part of O’Keeffe’s life and art, although very little has been known or written about her involvement with Native American art and culture. It is popularly assumed that she had none. But from 1931 to 1945, O’Keeffe created a significant group of drawings, watercolors, and paintings of katsina tithu. Because she retained and seldom exhibited these paintings, however, they remain generally unknown to the public.

O’Keeffe was not alone in seeking inspiration in New Mexico’s landscape and indigenous cultures. Various modernist artists, including Marsden Hartley and Emil Bisstram, looked to the area’s unique cultures and geography as a source of imagery that would lend their work a particular American identity independent of European modernism. In presenting a selection of her landscape and architectural paintings along with her katsina tithu works, the exhibition reveals the breadth of O’Keeffe’s interest in the cultures and environment of northern New Mexico.

Exhibition Catalogue
An exhibition catalogue accompanies Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico, published by the Museums of New Mexico Press. It includes an introduction by Lynes that discusses O’Keeffe’s interest in aspects of Native American and Hispano culture, and an essay by Kastner that analyzes the cultural complexity of studying and exhibiting katsina tithu in the 21st century. An essay by Jackson Rushing, professor of art history at the University of Oklahoma, examines O’Keeffe’s Katsinam paintings in relation to works by other modern artists who depicted Native American themes. Three Hopi tribal members have also contributed to the catalogue. Alph H. Secakuku’s essay discusses the role of Hopi religion and ceremonies, and specifically the katsina tithu depicted in O’Keeffe’s artwork. In a brief essay, artist Ramona Sakiestewa considers Georgia O’Keeffe’s katsina tithu paintings as she reflects on the source of Katsina imagery in her own artistic practice. Also included is an interview with Dan Namingha, in which he describes his art training as well as the influence of Hopi culture and landscape on his painting and sculpture.

Travel Schedule
Montclair Art Museum, September 28,2012–January 20, 2013
Denver Art Museum, February 10–April 28, 2013
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, May 17–September 8, 2013
Heard Museum, September 27, 2013–January 12, 2014

Related Display
At the Montclair Art Museum, an intimate presentation of three works by Georgia O’Keeffe from a private collection will accompany the exhibition; it will consist of two oil paintings—Black Petunia and White Morning Glory 1 and Inside Clam Shell—and one pastel on paper, Pink Camellia.

Free First Thursday Nights at MAM
Starting October 4, 2012, the Museum will be open the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 9 p.m., with free admission to the galleries, unique programming, and a full-service bar with special First Thursday Night prices. Free First Thursdays are offered in partnership with Egan & Sons. See the Museum website for more details. MAM will maintain its normal hours, Wednesdays through Sundays, noon–5 p.m., with regular admission: $12 for nonmember adults, $10 for senior citizens and students with I.D., and free for members and children under 12. Free First Fridays will also remain free.

Exhibition Website
The Museum will maintain a site dedicated to the exhibition for journalists seeking further information, including a checklist, images, and related events and programs. Please visit

Public Programs
The 26th Annual Julia Norton Babson Memorial Lecture takes place on Thursday, October 11, 7 p.m., featuring a presentation by Carolyn Kastner, associate curator of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and a leading expert on the art of O’Keeffe. $15 members, $18 nonmembers. Call The Store at MAM, 973-259-5137.

Additionally, MAM is offering a wide variety of public and family programs for all ages in connection with the exhibition. Please consult the calendar at for complete information.

Group Tours
Group tours may be booked by calling 973-259-5136 or by emailing

Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land was organized by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and was made possible in part by The Burnett Foundation and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum National Council.

This exhibition is presented at the Montclair Art Museum with major support from The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

About the Museum
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) presents exhibitions and programs that reflect its collection of historic and contemporary American and Native American art. MAM's Yard School of Art offers classes for people of all ages.
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