When Georgia O'Keeffe first visited Northern New Mexico in 1917, she was hooked, like so many people who fall in the love with the landscape and its people. O'Keeffe returned to the region again and again, first buying a home at Ghost Ranch, and later a hilltop house nearby, in Abiquiu. In 1949, three years after the death of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, the artist moved to the Land of Enchantment for good - to paint from her studio overlooking the dual winding ribbons of the road to Santa Fe and the Chama River.
By then the nation's most renowned woman artist, O'Keeffe, 62, knew the risk she was taking by leaving New York, the nexus of the art world. Her husband had been a celebrity in his own right, a pioneer of 20th-century photography and a gallery owner who introduced America to modernism - as well as to O'Keeffe. Without him, without New York, without her longtime circle of friends and patrons in the art world, what would happen to her career?
What happened is, of course, the stuff of legend. O'Keeffe did not shrivel up in the desert; instead, she flourished like the wild jimson weed she so often painted, inspired by the isolation and beauty of the natural environment surrounding her. Her longtime residence in New Mexico inexorably identified her with this state in the American mind.