This is the fortieth year since I met Georgia O'Keeffe, a compelling woman, both in her art and her persona. She is certainly the foremost woman artist of the century, and some would say the century's foremost American artist
1. That's a remarkable statement. Given my age at that time of twenty-four, I had an interaction with an absolutely, almost godess-like kind of a figure, though she didn't appear that way.

There were almost no books in print documenting her life. There was a selective amount of information I had on her at the time, and being excited about the things I was doing, I knew my approach to nature's energy was different from hers. And we both shared an interest in minimalism, although I was involved with science at the time, she took the mystic's approach.

Although Georgia O'Keeffe was legendary, I was not necessarily aware of that, on a conscious level, anyway. There was much curiosity about her particularly her decision to isolate herself at that point. While that year, in 1965, I enrolled in NYU's graduate program to study with Irving Sandler in his modern art seminar. He commented, "O'Keeffe would be interesting to talk about, why don't you look her up, since you've already met her? She's a hermit. I've never met her. I'm curious about her image as she has fallen out of popularity in New York, after 1946-into the 50's."
2 Later, in 1970 her reemergence caused quite a stir.

These letters are to be seen as a dialogue between a younger and older artist and approached from the view that they are not involved with the kind of scholarship that an art historian is, but rather as involved in a relationship that existed that had it's own dynamic.

The thing you call abstraction is your will to form translating nature's energy

sent to Marilynn Thuma
3, Lista de Correo, Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico

1. May 14, 1964 Abiquiu, N.M. Notecard, 9 x 12 Handwritten
2. July 6, 1968 Abiquiu, N.M. July 3, 1968 Handwritten
3. July 20, 1968 Abiquiu, N.M. July 20, 1968 Handwritten
4. July 29, 1968 Abiquiu, N.M. July 27, 1968 Handwritten
5. Dec 7, 1968 Abiquiu, N.M. Dec 17, 1968 Handwritten
6. Dec 28, 1968 Abiquiu, N.M. Notecard Handwritten
7. April 14, 1969 New York City The Stanhope Handwritten
8. June 7, 1969 Espanola, N.M. Zip 87532 Handwritten
9. June 18, 1969 Abiquiu, N.M. June 18, 1969 Handwritten
10. October 27, 1969 Abiquiu, N.M. October 26, 1969 Handwritten
11. Nov 17, 1969 Abiquiu, N.M. Nov 17, 1969 Handwritten
12. October 20, 1970 Abiquiu, N.M. Check Handwritten
13. Nov 2, 1970 Abiquiu, N.M. Nov 2, 1970 Handwritten
14. Nov 6, 1970 Abiquiu, N.M. Nov 6, 1970 Handwritten
15. May 10, 1971 Abiquiu, N.M. May 8, 1971 Typed & Signed, GOK:gr
16. July 30, 1971 Abiquiu, N.M. June 29, 1971 Typed & Signed, GOK:gr
17. Dec 6, 1971 Abiquiu, N.M. Dec 3, 1971 Typed Unsigned, GOK:gr
18. April 7, 1972 Abiquiu, N.M. April 7, 1972 Typed & Signed, GOK:gr
19. August 15, 1972 Santa Fe, N.M. August 18, 1972 Typed & Signed, GOK:gr
20. May 9, 1973 Abiquiu, N.M. May 8, 1973 Typed & Signed, GOK:vfr

The above envelopes are imprinted across the reverse flap with:

[1] Ralph Looney, OK & Me: A Treasured Friendship , (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, page 39) wrote: "Her sense of humor stayed as sharp as a well-honed razor and softened her considerable ego. I once showed her an unpublished article I had written that referred to her as "America's greatest woman artist." She smiled, crossed out "woman" with a pen, and handed it back to me, still smiling."

[2] Researching my lecture, "The Pictorial O'Keeffe," Modern Art Seminar 2050, New York University, January 4, 1965, at the Downtown Gallery in New York art dealer Mrs. Edith Halpert showed me G.O.'s many published articles. In catalogues and newspaper clippings she jokingly peeped through a hole in a piece of Swiss cheese she held; or, she used holes in skeletons and liked to look through them as if to focus through the lens of a camera. Her predominant interest in ovoids as holes came out in a later series of pelvis bones. . . I prepared the lecture with borrowed slides, adding Ram's Head, White Hollyhock -- Hills, 1935 after visiting Modernist private collectors, Milton and Edith Lowenthal. They had bought "their OK" from Halpert but had never met the artist. We corresponded over the next 25 years, (see The Lowenthal Papers, reel #4904, available at SIRIS.)

[3] The reader will note. that at that time in my career, I used the name Marilynn Thuma. Originally misspelled by a Germanic "th," as Thuma, my surname Tuma is a Czech name meaning "monument" or, "that which endures." My will-to-form monuments to Nature and organic growth has been my life's ambition. [Latin v. tumere, an artificial mound. i.e.. an ancient burial mound.]

Text written by Mym Tuma, Southampton, NY 11969
All Rights Reserved © Bernard Gotfryd of East Hampton (O'Keeffe, 1970)
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