The First Day of Summer

Tree

Doesn’t look very summery, does it?  The sun had gotten itself snagged in a spider’s web of clouds above this tree and looking up I thought it might be too bright to get a decent picture. This scene reminded me of the work of one of my favorite painters, Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe is most famous for painting pictures of flowers which some art critics say represented vaginas, an intention she firmly denied. Or surrealistic desert scenes with cow skulls.  However she did do a few upside down paintings.

OKeefe2

Yes, this the correct orientation for this painting.  One wonders if she painted it laying down.

She also liked to capture the glare and other worldly feeling of a city night.

Okeefe3OKeefe1

I used to imagine traveling to New Mexico to meet O’Keeffe who, by the time I discovered her, would have been eighty. I’m glad I didn’t.  Successful artists live for their art and all else is irrelevant.  In O’Keeffe’s case, she regularly scandalized the art world (not an easy feat), first by having an affair with an older married man, then by allowing him to take “erotic” pictures of her, and finally – many years later – taking a lover fifty years her junior. Her personality was described as “prickly” and it is said she couldn’t stand people who weren’t thin. It would have been like traveling a thousand miles to spend time with my grandmother who also didn’t like fat people and was as prickly as they come.

Ever fantasized about meeting someone famous and then realized it might not be such a good idea?

Happy Summer Solstice!

12 thoughts on “The First Day of Summer

  1. Wow, Jan, your photo is great. It really does resemble the Georgia O’Keefe one. And for the record, I do think those flowers are supposed to resemble vaginas.

    When I was in high school, I often fantasized about meeting Jim Morrison, who’d been dead for almost a decade. But of course, I didn’t accept that. I’d look for him everywhere. Even when I graduated from college and took a trip to California and other places in the American West, I believed I might spot him. Then, one afternoon, I was in a bar in Monterey with friends (I’m sure I wasn’t drinking or anything) and there was an older man sitting with a bunch of other guys. He had a big beard like Jim did in his later years, and something about his behavior made me think it was him. The guys were all very drunk and obnoxious, but I figured I should go say hello, because, you know, it was such an opportunity. But as I approached the men, I couldn’t do it. It occurred to me that if the guy actually was Jim Morrison, he wasn’t behaving very nicely, and if it wasn’t him, I didn’t want to spend any time with those men. So I went back to my friends.

    That day opened my eyes, though. I started to really think about what Jim Morrison might be like as an older man, and figured that if he were–by any chance–alive, he was either trying to live peacefully away from the public eye, or acting like that dude in the Monterey bar. In either case, trying to be his friend probably wouldn’t work out.

    • The way Morrison lived, if he was still alive he’d probably look like Keith Richards! I know very few people who’ve met their idol and been impressed. Paul McCartney showed up at an open mic event in Truckee CA (he was staying at nearby Tahoe) and no one recognized him until he started playing Yesterday.

  2. One cannot deny the iris paintings resemble female genitalia, but then, actual irises do resemble actual female genitalia, sooo…her intentions are not beholden to anyone’s opinion. I have always loved her work, but I think you’ve nailed it with how artists live for their art. I often like art without any affection for its maker.

    • You’ve got a point. For me it’s the dramatic colors in her work that wow me. I took art classes in college from a famous artist and he was a real jerk. Didn’t give a shit about the students – just talked about himself.

  3. I’m a huge O’Keeffe fan and read a pretty good biography of her a few years ago. I visited Ghost Ranch as well when I was in New Mexico. It was awe-inspiring to see the landscapes she painted. I didn’t tour her house though as reservations needed to be made and time didn’t really allow for it. Your question reminds me of a paper I wrote where I said I wanted to have dinner with Emerson and Thoreau. Yet, the more I’ve thought about that they would probably just be real full of themselves and take on Mr. Smarty Pants personas.

    • We keep saying we’re going to visit New Mexico – so far haven’t quite made it. Emerson and Thoreau together at a dinner could make for a butting of egos that’s for sure. Might be interesting!

  4. Beautiful photograph – both the sky and the tree look ethereal. I love Georgia O’Keeffe art! Have read a lot about her and Alfred Stieglitz. I agree with you that bothering an elderly artist wouldn’t be a good idea.

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