It has occurred to me that this blog has become a bit ‘tunnel visioned’ with my life and times taking precedence over more universal and artistic themes.
As usual a definitions is required, the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view. Used in a sentence: “She has tunnel vision in all matters of opinion and morality” Here is another definition: If you say that someone has tunnel vision, you disapprove of them because they are concentrating completely on achieving a particular aim, and do not notice or consider all the different aspects of what they are doing.
I do confess that I have been heading in that direction. There is a big world out there, I am loosing track of that. Fortunately a topic of great interest caught me eye. It was an article in the May 8, 2023 magazine edition of The New Yorker Early Bloomer: Georgia O’Keefe before she became famous. Written by Jackson Arn in the Art World section informs : She’s known for her paintings of skulls, flowers, and deserts. A new MOMA show suggests that her early work was stronger.
“You don’t have to spend long at “Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time,” moma’s new show of the artist’s works on paper, to see that she was wrong about her own talents. This is nothing unusual. Mark Twain was sure that his masterpiece was a soggy thing called “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.” Susan Sontag thought that she was a great novelist whom the world had mistaken for an essayist. And O’Keeffe devoted the better part of her ninety-eight years to grand, sometimes grandiose oil paintings, despite the ample evidence that she was spectacular with charcoal and watercolor. A world-class sprinter chose to run marathons.”
“A world-class sprinter choosing to run marathons struck a cord” with me because of my experiences at the Women’s Walk yesterday. More about that experience soon but we are now onto bigger and better things.
“She must have had some sense of this. On the eve of her 1970 retrospective at the Whitney, she said, maybe not in jest, that she’d never topped her early drawings and watercolors. Elsewhere, she suggested that she’d turned to oils because that’s what you did if you wanted attention. Fair enough, as far as the young O’Keeffe was concerned—watercolors might have been too easy for macho avant-gardists to dismiss as dainty lady-painting—but what about decades later, when she’d become one of the most famous artists in America and could have done whatever she liked? Culture-makers are as vulnerable to genre snobbery as culture consumers, and so, much as Sontag seems to have convinced herself that novels mattered more than essays, O’Keeffe stuck with a medium that maintained her fame at the cost of muffling her gifts. Most of the pieces in this show had been completed by 1917, the year she turned thirty.”
That is a attention grabbing and thought provoking idea, that “O’Keefe stuck with a medium that maintained her fame at the cost of muffling her gifts.” Muffle is the perfect word (admittedly not mine). One definition of muffle id to restrain or conceal (someone) with wrapping. There are excellent synonyms: dull, damp down, mute, still, tone down, mask, stifle, ,subdue, suppress.
I am an avid fan of O’Keefe, but did find this to be laughingly true:
“Compare any one of them with her most popular work: the endless pelvic bones, cow skulls, and yonic flowers. O’Keeffe may be the only famous painter whose greatest hits look better in reproduction; to find one in a museum and see what all the glossy posters were hiding is a bit of a bummer.”
I do love Arn’s writing, grabs your attention then keeps it, speaking of her center of gravity, later speaking of Stieglitz, enumerating his roles – mentor, tormentor, No. 1 fan etc etc etc.
“But the center of gravity is the twentysomething O’Keeffe whose legend was still a long way off. She made her first visit to New Mexico in 1917, but wouldn’t live there year-round for another three decades. Her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, the photographer who became her mentor, tormentor, No. 1 fan, and husband, was still a thing of letters and gallery openings”
Arn speaks of each and every generation of Americans inventing a different O’Keef This says as much about me as it does about the artist—but every generation of Americans has invented a different O’Keeffe.
“In the fifties, she was hailed as the first color-field painter, godmother of Rothko and Newman; by the sixties, she’d been reimagined as a proto-hippie, dropping out of civilization to find herself in the desert; and in the seventies and eighties a new wave of feminists fell hard for her. “
The article ends so neatly, so nicely.
“It’s easy to forget while savoring the pieces in this show, but O’Keeffe gave strong signs of not caring too much about them. To her, they were experiments, rehearsals for all the major art she’d make later on. That’s why they’re so good. “
In order to get the entire article Google Jackson Arn, New Yorker and up it pops.
I have tentative plans to travel to New York in the fall. I hope and pray the exhibit will be present,and accounted for, at MOMA during my visit
To say I was an avid fan of Georgia O’Keefe is a bit like the famous Noah joke: Holding out his hand,”Looks like a sprinkle of rain.” This describes me, in the words of an anonymous woman: If something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing. I used my skills and abilities as a photographer to imitate O’Keefe taking close ups macros shots of flowers. I framed them with white matts and frames, had a photo exhibit at the County of Marin Civic Center. I have no idea whatsoever where the ‘masterpieces’ are. When I fled Marin County for the UAE, everything went into storage. Retrieving the stuff is almost impossible – one would think that Canada and the USA were at war – trust me there is no friendly border when dealing with Canadian Customs. The Islamic Faith enables reverts to obviate their past. It makes no sense to surround myself with objects reminding me of an obviated past. I continue to pay the storage fees but calling 1-800 Got Junk is looking like the best solution.
I shall continue to lighten the mood but first something entirely, and awfully serious.
Coincidentally, paradoxically, unbelievably the the May 8, 2023 New Yorker also contains within its pages a riveting, powerful disclosure about the Ruler of Dubai, the second in command of the UAE, where I lived prior to returning to Canada. It is frightening beyond belief. My life was in danger, it was not paranoia. I can provide the link for you – read at your own peril. The Ruler of Dubai is finally being ‘hung out to dry.” The truth about him was suppressed, hidden, eliminated, erased. No longer. He is perhaps the fall guy, but his behavior has been documented by a trusted and esteemed British Family Court. His reprehensible actions led to my becoming an adherent of the Islamic Faith. I shall write of it one day. The long, frigid winters are an invitation to hibernation. I can hibernate, have my groceries delivered and write in an uninterrupted fashion. The thought is most seductive. The link to The Fugitive Princess: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/05/08/the-fugitive-princesses-of-dubai?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorker
There have been two previous articles revealing the sins of both the UAE and their arch rival Qatar. I have cut them from the magazine section, stapled them together and shall read then when I feel braver and even safer. I was in trouble – knew it but not how treacherous it truly was. PHEW
If you do read it and imagine living under the unchecked control and power of that man you will certainly need some humor. The New Yorker comes to the rescue yet again.
One cartoon reveals the problem with the Christian concept of heaven. I never had a dog and a cat, therefore never encountered the problems experienced by the couple. I gave a copy of the other cartoon to the maintenance supervisor and the property manager of this building. I am sure you can figure out which one is which. Hahaha
By the time you read this it will probably be my 80th birthday. I made it this far and you cannot keep a good woman down is a humorous way of saying that a person with a strong character will always succeed, even if they have a lot of problems. Used in a sentence: When they sacked her, she simply set up a rival company of her own. Worry not, no one can sack me because I am retired with good retirement income. No rival company for me.