“Georgia O'Keeffe's World: Focused on Nature" at the Rock Island Public Library Watts-Midtown Branch -- May 22.

Wednesday, May 22, 1 p.m.

Rock Island Public Library Watts-Midtown Branch, 2715 30th Street, Rock Island IL

Delivering a close look at the artist's early years in New York with her husband Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe's World: Focused on Nature will find Carol Ehlers leading a May 22 program at the Rock Island Public Library's Watts-Midtown Branch, the event's presenter exploring how O'Keefe's close-up and magnified flower, leaf, and landscape paintings forever affected the way we look at nature.

Born in 1887, passing in 1986 at the age of 98, and frequently referred to as the "Mother of American modernism," O'Keeffe gained international recognition for her meticulous paintings of natural forms, particularly flowers and desert-inspired landscapes, which were often drawn from and related to places and environments in which she lived. From 1905, when O'Keeffe began her studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, until about 1920, she studied art or earned money as a commercial illustrator or a teacher to pay for further education. Influenced by Arthur Wesley Dow, O'Keeffe began to develop her unique style beginning with her watercolors from her studies at the University of Virginia and more dramatically in the charcoal drawings that she produced in 1915 that led to total abstraction. Alfred Stieglitz, an art dealer and photographer, held an exhibit of her works in 1917, and over the next few years, she taught and continued her studies at the Teachers College at Columbia University.

She moved to New York in 1918 at Stieglitz's request, began working seriously as an artist, and the pair developed a professional and personal relationship that led to their marriage on December 11, 1924. O'Keeffe created many forms of abstract art, including close-ups of flowers, such as the Red Canna paintings, that many found to represent vulvas, though O'Keeffe consistently denied that intention. The imputation of the depiction of women's sexuality was also fueled by explicit and sensuous photographs of O'Keeffe that Stieglitz had taken and exhibited.

O'Keeffe and Stieglitz lived together in New York until 1929, when O'Keeffe began spending part of the year in the Southwest, which served as inspiration for her paintings of New Mexico landscapes and images of animal skulls, such as Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue (1931) and Summer Days (1936). After Stieglitz's death in 1946, she lived in New Mexico for the next 40 years at her home and studio or Ghost Ranch summer home in Abiquiú, and in the last years of her life, in Santa Fe. In 2014, O'Keeffe's 1932 painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 sold for $44,405,000 – at the time, by far the largest price paid for any painting by a female artist. Her works are in the collections of several museums, and following her death, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum was established in Santa Fe.

Georgia O'Keeffe's World: Focused on Nature will be presented at the Rock Island Public Library's Watts-Midtown Branch on May 22, participation in the 1 p.m. program is free, and more information is available by calling (309)732-7323 and visiting RockIslandLibrary.org.

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