Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ways of Seeing

Serious Question of the Day from Moose on the Loose: Did Georgia O'Keeffe teach me to see the Southwest this way, or is this "just" the way it looks?

Why does my eye always go to these points where sky and adobe meet, beneath a strong sun, adding shadow into the dramatic mix of color, shape, and texture? I know that looking is never innocent, that every gaze is stuck in history, and I am just another white tourist passing through this place searching for salvation or another silver bracelet to add to the collection. But it isn't merely history or consumerism that stops my eye when it encounters one of these amazing contiguities. My visual vocabulary isn't sufficient to describe the power there is for me in an aesthetic that so carefully situates culture in relation to nature and manages to "feel" both representational and abstract. O'Keeffe didn't invent that aesthetic. It was deeply rooted in New Mexico when she first visited in 1929. (The building in the photos above was built in 1917, but its style is rooted in pueblo architecture that was hundreds of years old when it was built.) So neither she nor I stand outside of history, but I wonder if she wasn't drawn here by something similar to what has drawn me back again and again -- some quality of light, air, color, and sky that arrests the eye, the breath, that makes you imagine that time itself might stop, for a moment -- until you blink and realize the shadow on the wall is longer than it was before. I wonder.

Sky Project: Update

Moose posted this shot of Friday's sunset to Facebook last night, but here it is, for the benefit of readers who are too cool or too busy (Goose!) for FB. This was taken with the humble iPhone. She tried similar shots tonight with her Canon, figuring they'd be better, but she ended up liking the deep blue of last night's sky better. (Insert icon of dog rolling eyes here. Suddenly, somebody thinks she's Annie freakin' Leibovitz!)

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, undisclosed location, 9/26 and 9/25/09.)

1 comment:

  1. So good! esp # 2.

    If you haven't yet read Chris Wilson's *The Myth of Santa Fe* on the creating of the turn of the century Santa Fe style and pueblo look, you should...

    and, for a shorter read

    Ah, sunshine...


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