On Heroes, Reviews, and O'Keefe

I’ll try not to sound defensive . . . but how can an artist not defend their paintings? I do appreciate that it was my first real review. Mostly it was very good. I was glad how she reviewed the shells and she could see how wonderful Vista 4 Panarea was . . . although in the magazine they printed the wrong vista. The one pictured was Vista 2, San Simeon. I’m not going to get into how I felt about the Hollywood series write up . . . so much was wrong. I see what Warhol did was so different . . . purposefully shallow and pop culture . . . it was not what I was doing and exploring. I’m after Warhol, there is nothing I can do about that. His time is very different from my time. His experience different than mine. He was after different things. I try not to hate him, but I do. From where I stand he was the end of something . . . or the beginning of the end. Maybe. Hopefully. For me, that is how I feel. It was not the first time an art person told me that they didn’t like the Hollywood Series. It is like people want to steer you. They are afraid for you. It’s a pain they are avoiding for you. It’s not as good, they say. I can feel it is. This has happened to me before . . . it takes years sometimes before people like or understand what I’m doing and by then I’m doing something else. I don’t want to be steered. Words do effect me and some seeps in. Through awareness, I learn about human nature and that helps me . . . so I’m grateful for what they say. I guess.

After the opening my husband and I planned a trip to New Mexico to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s houses and studio. Tours were booked months in advance. O’Keefe’s love of nature and her painterly approach to objects while letting the subject matter move off into abstraction . . . is close to my heart and although I don’t think our styles and approaches are the same . . . I look to her and I love to read about her life. BUT It is a mixed bag for me because of her fame. Going on tours (my poor husband) I’m just a jerk. I hate tours. The stories and the spin. It is not the tour guides fault, I tell stories I love over and over again in order to support my love of my hero. They say Georgia moved to New Mexico because she fell in love with the landscape. The land there is wildly cool but . . . Georgia moving to New Mexico had much to do with getting away from Stieglitz and his, what must only have been, humiliating affairs. The whole Stieglitz thing. He steered her work and gave her the opportunity to show . . . without him would there have been an O’Keeffe? Probably not. She wanted children, he told her no. Whatever she said in her progressive vows, she obeyed. Maybe he was right . . . or maybe this is the shitty way that woman go through life. Steered. When Georgia came on the scene Stieglitz took beautiful nude photos of her. This helped her fame. The artist as the object. Was this just a modern day Kardashian style media play? Yes, you can be sure it helped. So for me, Georgia is a mixed bag. Things I know — the junk of life. Stories that are spun. There’s more. I have more thoughts and feelings about the whole “Georgia O’Keeffe” thing and what has become of her . . . or her fame, or her story. I still love her paintings, not all, but many of them. I still admire her resolve to keep going. I feel her pain. I can see what she was doing in her time and I can see it was the best it could be. She lived a good life but . . . it was considered, it was assembled knowingly to help create her fame. To make it easier for the public to digest. Georgia is in my Hollywood series. She is part of the problem with fame and hero worship for me. I based her portrait on a Stieglitz photo. She is looking at an object to paint and we are looking at her lovely breast . . . just like Stieglitz. In the end, she is an object that he gets tired of. This is our humanity.

Hollywood Series #17 2016

Hollywood Series #17 2016