Starlight Night, Lake George, 1922.
Today’s visit to the de Young museum reinforced my belief that you always have to see art in person whenever you can. The big exhibit right now is Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George. They could give the show an alternate name like You think you know Georgia? This is not the Georgia O’Keeffe that most people are familiar with. It was years ago when I first discovered there was more to O’Keeffe than her well known work from New Mexico. Her earlier work from upstate New York and Canada is often overlooked. The Lake George work becomes quickly recognizable yet the subjects are not as often associated with her. There are verdant Adirondack landscapes and still mountain lakes, leaves, apples, and “exotic” alligator pears (avocados). The exhibit has pulled in pieces from private collections and many smaller museums. Paintings rarely that are brought together for a show. The Licking Cow from the Denver Art Museum is worth the price of admission.
What was most exciting is seeing paintings in person that, while nice, just don’t look as good online or in any art book. And even though the show’s catalog is well done – we have not achieved a printing technology that does Georgia O’Keeffe’s work justice. As a painter, seeing her explore the same themes but with a varying palette was, yes I’ll say it, inspirational. Color, color and more color and in many directions. So many of the paintings glow. They are like beacons that pull you across the room.
Time is running out, you have until May 11th to catch these gems in person. And now, I have start a petition to rename New York’s Lake George. It’s named for the English monarch George II. It’s time we changed the name to Lake Georgia.