‘Notice All, Whether Large or Small’

December 29, 2021, Santa Fe- In many rancheria homes, of Spanish Land Grant-era New Mexico, a rattlesnake skeleton is embedded in the middle of a bench (banca), that extends out from the wall of the central living room. It is not certain, as to the origin of this practice, but Georgia O’Keeffe observed it, in her “town home” at Abiquiu, Mew Mexico.

I had the pleasure of visiting the O’Keeffe Museum, in central Santa Fe, this morning. After being awakened by a voice that was neither male nor female, I noticed that it was 7 a.m. and that a light snow had fallen overnight. Cleaning off the car with what was little more than a feather duster, left by the previous owner, I found the streets bare and traffic rather light. A fine breakfast at French Pastry Shop and short walk around the lobby of La Fonda Hotel began the morning in earnest.

There was a fair crowd at the O’Keeffe Museum, as the doors opened at 10 a.m. In keeping with Georgia’s advice to her students to pay as much attention to the small and subtle, as to the large and boisterous, each of us took turns in looking at the paintings, sketches and ceramics, in each of nine galleries. Most of the offerings were the work of Georgia O’Keeffe herself. There were a few photographs of the artist, by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, who also provided scenes of New York City, as did their mutual friend, Ansel Adams, who, like Georgia, is more associated with depictions of nature. A more contemporary student of Georgia’s work, Josephine Halvorson, is the first artist-in-residence at Ghost Ranch, where Georgia spent most of her time, after the death of her husband. Josephine has a gallery of her work in this museum, being the only artist other than Georgia O’Keeffe herself to be thus honoured. Josephine painstakingly studied Georgia’s life and work at Ghost Ranch and provides scenes such as the one below.

Of all of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, her Blue Paintings appeal to me the most. Many of them were marked “Do Not Photograph”. There were at least a couple which were recordable, though. Here is one such.


Not all of her work was earthbound, however. On a plane, between New York and Albuquerque, this scene was captured in her mind and made it to canvas.

In contemplating this scene, I recalled my own first airplane flight, from Newark to Atlanta, in 1969, and a similar feeling of being in a very different realm.

Once finishing a satisfying visit to the O’Keeffe, I paid a quick visit to my friends at the coffee house, Henry and The Fish, bought a birthday present for a friend in Prescott at the Palace of the Governors and stocked up on ballpoint pens, before strolling down Burro Alley- a perfect representation of the type of small neighbourhood that Georgia liked to frequent.

Thus did an overcast morning become blessed.

2 thoughts on “‘Notice All, Whether Large or Small’

  1. I always learn something! I’d never heard of placing a rattlesnake skeleton in a bench! I’m curious and must google this practice – perhaps the internet will shed more light…. A lovely trip (the hotel looks beautiful with the architecture)!

    Liked by 1 person

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