Georgia O’Keeffe’s Southwest

When an artist with the eye of Georgia O’Keeffe falls in love with the desert southwest, you know there is something very special about the land, the sky and the ever-changing colors.

The day after Indian Market finished, we hopped in the Jeep and headed out of Santa Fe to find the famous Ghost Ranch where Ms. O’Keefe made her home northwest of Santa Fe, near the town of Abiquiu. It was here that she found the inspiration and solace to create her most famous paintings.

But before we headed to Abiquiu, we took the winding, high road toward Taos to visit the historic village of Chimayó and see their frequently-photographed church, el Santuario de Chimayó.

Miracles have been reported on the sacred grounds of the santurio and today it receives visitors and pilgrims from all over the world.

This tiny, quiet village was founded in the 1700’s by Spanish settlers and many of their descendants. There is a children’s chapel, a funky art gallery and a beautiful, typical doorway that I just had to photograph.

We asked several of the locals who were working where the best place to stop for lunch was, that they all unanimously said we had to dine at the restored hacienda that was now the Rancho del Chimayó.

I’ve learned over many years of traveling that listening to the locals is always the best way to find the best places to eat, shop, overnight….and they were right again! Ellen and I enjoyed a delightful and delicious lunch sitting under a large umbrella on the sunlit upper patio on a clear, beautiful day. Our waiter was one of those descendants whose family had been in this little village for 100’s of years and he just happened to be very tried … as he was a brand new father of a not-sleeping-much baby girl.

The only problem we had during our lunch, and it seems to be an on-going, everywhere problem these days is the people at the next table talking so loudly that you might as well be part of their conversation! And if they aren’t talking loudly to each other, they are yelling into their cell phones. What has happened to quiet conversations between just 2 or 3 people? I really didn’t care about the painter next to us who was so terribly unhappy about the way her latest prints had turned out and certainly didn’t need to hear about her companion’s gout!

After lunch it was back down the winding road, through the Nambe pueblo and back up another winding road toward Abiquiu. What can I say about the scenery that I and so many others haven’t already said other than it makes you slam on your brakes, pull off the road, grab your camera and somehow try and capture the breathtaking beauty that your eyes are seeing.

The day couldn’t make up it’s mind to be sunny or cloudy or dump great bursts of water on our heads – it decided to do all 3. We found the dusty, dirt road entrance to Ghost Ranch about 8 miles past the town with the cow skull logo on the gate.

The skull logo was taken from a painting Georgia O’Keeffe had done and given to the owners of the ranch, the Pack family, in hopes that they would sell her the ranch. Over time, they did sell her 7 acres and the guest house that was located there, but would never sell her the entire ranch as she had hoped. Her house and 7 acres remain part of the O’Keeffe family trust and are not open to the public, but Ghost Ranch was opened by the Pack’s to the public and today you can take a twice-daily landscape tour, hike the many beautiful trails, enjoy outdoor concerts and partake of a long list of classes from painting to photography, poetry, writing and many more. This link will give you all the details…The Ghost Ranch.

As we headed back into Santa Fe after a long day, we still could not get over the beauty of the land that surrounded us and vowed we would return again soon. I am especially interested in a week-long class at the Ghost Ranch that combines both photography and writing!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shoot a photo of the purple-tinged flower that Ms. O’Keeffe immortalized in so many of her paintings…

Until next time……

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