“Georgia O'Keeffe & Deere: The Making of a Modern Masterpiece" at the Butterworth Center -- March 27.

Monday, March 27, 7 p.m.

Butterworth Center, 1105 Eighth Street, Moline IL

Offered on March 27 as a program in the "Evenings at Butterworth Center" series, the Moline venue will host historian Sarah Rovang as she presents Georgia O’Keeffe & Deere: The Making of a Modern Masterpiece, detailing how the legendary artist forever established a local connection by referring to her monumental work Sky Above Clouds IV as the “Deere Clouds.”

Commonly known as "the mother of American modernism," was chiefly revered for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. Yet as stated on GeorgiaOkeeffe.net, "Among the most dramatic and well-known images of O'Keeffe's later years are her cloudscapes of the 1960s and '70s. Traveling around the world, she was exhilarated by the views seen from an airplane window. She described the changing patterns and colors as 'breathtaking' and was moved to interpret these sights and feelings in paint. At first, she painted contemplative pictures that showed the sky covered with a blanket of solid white clouds; later, a series of lively canvases filled with puffy white clouds and blue sky that stretch to infinity. O'Keeffe's Sky Above Clouds IV of 1965 was the most ambitious work in the series, and realized her long-time ambition to create a huge mural-size painting."

In 1964, O'Keeffe was a guest of designer Alexander Girard at the gala celebration of John Deere's new Eero Saarinen-designed headquarters. Surprisingly, her presence went unreported by local journalists. But her brief yet significant time at the event inspired her most extraordinary paintings in Sky Above Clouds IV, a work that was originally intended for the “white walls” of the executive dining room at Deere. Instead, it arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970, where it has been a must-see attraction ever since.

Sarah Rovang, an architectural historian based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, uncovered this intriguing, untold Quad Cities story, and employing photos and delivering insights gleaned from the O’Keeffe archives, will share details of O’Keeffe’s visit in Georgia O’Keeffe & Deere: The Making of a Modern Masterpiece. Among the subjects planned for discussion are O'Keeffe's immediate return to Abiquiu, New Mexico, to begin work, at age 77, on the largest painting of her career, as well as her correspondence with Bill Hewitt, CEO of Deere, and others who encouraged her efforts. Rovang will also provide some theories as to why the “Deere Clouds” never actually graced the walls of the Deere headquarters itself.

Georgia O'Keeffe & Deere: The Making of a Modern Masterpiece will be presented in Moline on March 27, admission to the 7 p.m. is free, and light refreshments will be served following the program. For more information, call (309)743-2701 and visit ButterworthCenter.com.

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher