Georgia O’Keeffe – The Legend of Modern Abstract Art

Georgia O’Keeffe or Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was an American painter, who revolutionized the concept of modern abstract art. Born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia O’Keeffe grew up in Virginia. She graduated from the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1904, and studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (1905) and the Art Students League of New York (1907). She later moved to Texas and headed the Art Department at the West Texas State Normal College in 1916. The charm of the barren landscape caught O’Keeffe’s fascination, tilting the balance of her artistic skills towards capturing the beauty of the valleys and plains that surrounded her.

Georgia’s paintings drew up a close-up view of desert flowers, backdrops, cow skulls, and Calla Lilies. Her work won her a passionate audience. Her artistic brilliance was first noticed in her charcoal drawings of bud and flowers in 1916. Ace photographer and art gallery director of 291, Alfred Stieglitz, whom Georgia later married, exhibited 10 of her drawings in the same year. She had the knack of capturing and representing natural beauty in her own distinct ways. April 1917, O’Keeffe held her first solo show at the art gallery, 291.

1920s witnessed some of the best artworks of O’Keeffe. Her first large scale flower painting, “Petunia, No.2 (1924),” was first exhibited in 1925. She canvassed the buildings of New York in “City Night and New York–Night (1926)” and “Radiator Bldg–Night, New York (1927).” In one of her painting, ‘The Black Iris (1926),’ she magnified a flower beautifully, giving it a startling and an unusual look. Later in her career, O’Keeffe introduced different patterns of the sky, which she observed during her travels by air. Her mural, ‘Sky above Clouds (1962-63),’ is one of her largest illustrations.

Georgia O’Keeffe finally settled down in Abiquiu, New Mexico, after her husband’s death in 1949. She continued to fascinate the world with her emotive and simple paintings of exotic southwestern landscapes. By the time her illustrious career ended with her death in 1986, Georgia had carved a niche for herself and had left behind a legacy, which became a major source of inspiration for the other artists.

O’Keeffe always maintained that anything around her that came to her notice and intrigued her, she simply brought to the canvas. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowments of the Arts Washington, DC in 1985, which was presented to her by President Ronald Regan. She was also awarded the Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded her a Gold Medal for Painting. She also held the distinct honor of being the first woman to exhibit her art at the Museum of Modern Art.

Texas Artists and Art Movements

Edgar Byran Davis – Philantropist

From “Texans Always Move Them: A True History of Texas”

When Texas wildcatter, Edgar Byram Davis struck oil near Luling, Texas, everyone benefited. After making profits on his discovery, he used his funds to improve Texas. Davis celebrated by hosting a huge free barbecue. He invited friends, employees and associates in Luling, Texas. He shared his profits by contributing to charitable organizations, purchased golf courses for Luling, improved hospitals and supported the arts. Among his patronage was supporting the Broadway play, “The Ladder” for two years and the controversial figure Edgar Cayce. Davis personally paid for tickets to the play due to his belief in reincarnation which the play emphasized and that it was written by a friend of his.

Texas Impressionism

Edgar B. Davis also underwrote the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibitions of art. The $5,000 prize money awarded in the competition was the richest art award offered in the United States. Prizes were given for national and state-wide competition. Davis liked the Texas wildflowers, and had possibly been inspired by Texas artist Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), who was known as the “Bluebonnet Painter” and “Father of Texas Painting”. His paintings of the Texas landscapes often portrayals of areas near his home in San Antonio gained him a national reputation. His father, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk (1852-1917) was also an established artist.

These art competitions brought painters to Texas along with encouraging native born artist to pursue painting. These competitions almost single handedly brought about a painting style known as “Texas Impressionism”. Texas Impressionism sought to portray the effects of sun and light on outdoor subjects. The Impressionist movement, which began in France, was brought to Texas through this movement. Texas born artists Jose Arpa (1858-1952), Robert Wood (1889-1979), Rolla Taylor (1871-1970), and Porifirio Salinas (1919-1973). and Dawson-Dawson Watson (1864-1939) was born in England, yet his close association and similar style with the Texas painters lumps him in with the Texas impressionists.combined the popular painting style of impressionism with Texas landscapes. The artist Porifirio Salinas met fellow artists Robert Woos and Jose Arpa by selling them art supplies. From them he learned their unique style, even cooperating with them on some paintings. From those lessons, he mastered his own style. One of his later students, Palmer Chrisman (1913-1984), became an acclaimed artist.Chrisman provided medical services in trade for art lessons. Chrisman’s paintings were given out as gifts by President Lyndon Johnson during his presidency. This new style encouraged painters to come to Texas, with the Dallas area becoming a center of the new Texas school of artistic painting.

Modern Texas artists whose paintings reflect this style are Dalhart Windberg and Larry Dyke.Dyke’s work has hung in the White House and other prominent locations. Larry Dyke’s paintings have his signature Bible passage reference on each work, which is one of his unique markers.

Lone Star Regionalism

Davis’ financial patronage was one of the bright spots during the economic hardships of the depression in Texas of the 1930’s. Between his patronage and WPA projects encouraging the development of artists and writers, a new style developed known as “Lone Star Regionalism”. This new style gradually gained dominance over the previous movement of Texas Impressionism. The new style used darker colors to portray subjects unique to Texas. Some critics may claim that the dark colors reflected the dark mood of the times. The artists attempted making their subjects easy for the common man to understand. The ‘regionalists’ chose everyday life as subjects for their art and writing. This increased emphasis on regionalism occurred in art and literature. Writers like J. Frank Dobie were part of this regionalism movement. J. Frank Dobie and Texas native, Tom Lea pooled their talents in joint ventures during this time. Artists in the movement included Clinton King (1901-1979),Thomas Hart Benson, Jerry Bywaters (1906-1989), Alexandre Hogue, Henry Nash Smith and David R. Williams. These artists were inspired by writers such as John Dewey, George Santayana and Constance Rourke. A group of the more prominent artists living in Dallas became known as the “Dallas Nine”. The regionalist artists were influential on art throughout the United States. At the 1939 World’s Fair held in New York City, after seeing the work of the Texas artists, the President of the exhibition commented, “The exhibition indicates that New York is still the art center of the nation, but it shows clearly that during the recent years there has been a marked decentralization, and that a number of cities and towns throughout the country have risen to challenge the leadership of the eastern metropolis.”

Artists during these harsh times resorted to many creative techniques and mediums. They painted on railroad cars, burlap, and almost any surface that paint would adhere to. In their resourcefulness, they made their own frames and canvas stretchers. The government program of WPA employed artists to paint murals for public buildings such as post offices. The post office and court house works often used murals to convey Texas and historic themes. Among the leading mural painters were Texas born artists Tom Lea (1907-2001) and Ruth Monro Augur.

Tom Lea’s work was featured on federal buildings and post offices throughout the nation. He also served as a military artist during World War II. At the 100th anniversary of his birth, President George W. Bush requested the Tom Lea painting of Rio Grande from the EL Paso Museum of Art would hang in the oval office. The work was eventually purchased and is currently on display in the oval office of the White House.

Texas Still Lifes

There were some Texas regionalism artists who were grouped into a subgroup of Texas Still Lifes. These are still a part of Texas regionalism, yet with works focused on still life subjects. Among this group were Lloyd L. Sergeant (1881-1934),Robert J. Onderdonk, Alexandre Hogue, Florence McClung, H. D. Bugbee, Olive Vandruff, Emilio Caballero and Isabel Robinson. Many of these artists were located in North Texas or the Panhandle sections of the state. They shared a common theme of still life painting within the Texas Regionalist style and painted their works in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Modern Artists of Note

Another modern Texas artist of note is Bruce Marshall. Marshall is known for his portrayal of Texas historic events and persons. His depictions of military uniforms and the accuracy of his detailing has earned high praises. He has written and published books on early Texas history and uniforms. His art was renowned enough to be knighted for his accomplishments, so that he is now known as “Sir Bruce Marshall”. He and his wife reside in the Austin, Texas area on land that has been in his family since colonial Texas.

JOHNNIE LILIEDAHL is another Texas artist with an international reputation. Her instruction and art are in demand around the world. People from Europe, Australia and Asia attend her classes to learn how she captures her subjects in a classic realistic stye reminiscent of the European masters. Johnnie continues teaching art classes at her studio in La Porte, Texas.

Tips for Choosing an Eye-Catching Staircase in Texas

The right staircase can open up a home and draw guests inside. It’s commonly a major focal point in the foyer or living area. Since Texans know how to live in the lap of luxury, let’s view five of the most covetable Texas staircases that have added even more luxury to these already impressive homes.

We first stop in Austin with a home that was inspired by Palladio’s Villa Rotunda. The foyer is a domed centerpiece featuring two large Texan staircases mimicking each other in style and design. They provide the grandiose feeling this palazzo demands. The next impressive staircase lies amidst a monochromatic loggia sitting room. One of its two winding staircases has a posh sitting area at its base and is celebrated for its chic minimalism.

For the next stylized staircase, we come across a home in University Park. The staircase is housed in an 6,000 square foot home with a welcoming foyer. The banister features a geometric wrought iron like design that pairs well with the oak hardwoods. Some of the best staircases seem to appear out of nowhere. This next one comes from a home in Houston and seems to melt into the background. Housed in a residence that was built in the French Chateau style, the staircase’s banister wraps around the room with its linear and organic pattern, made of wrought iron like furnishings. The Texan staircase is made of marble and fits in well against the limestone floors. This grand entry provides the essential flow into the formal dining and living rooms.

Any and all of these grand staircases were meant to inspire you for your redecorating or home buying project. When someone walks into your home for the first time, the staircase in the grand foyer provides a welcoming first impression, be sure it is a lasting one with a one-of-a-kind piece. Another helpful design tip is to create color interest. Paint each of the stairs or alternative landing pads different tones. It’s best to keep a monochromatic color story in mind that will match the rest of the house. Also, don’t feel limited to wood as the only material available for the banister. Metals provide a lasting product and can add a modern vibe to the interior design. The last tip is to go with what you know and stick with what you feel most comfortable with. This is something you will have to live with for years, so take the time to design something you love and you will be pleased with the results.

Why Hire An Interior Designer?

With the rising popularity of home-related style, design and do-it-yourself shows on television, many creative homeowners have a new appreciation of how interior design can make a dramatic difference in the appearance and functionality of their homes. Though many of these home shows make big projects look fast and easy, savvy homeowners know there is a lot of planning, skill and effort that goes on behind the scenes.

There is tremendous value in hiring a professional interior designer when you are contemplating a home redesign or decorating project. Though many of us are capable of doing competent design work, an interior designer will take your project to the next level. They are likely to come up with ideas that you never thought of, save you from costly or silly mistakes, and better integrate the changes with the overall character and layout of your home. A good designer will see the big picture aspect of the process while still understanding all of the little details that are equally important.

A locally based interior design consultant will have working knowledge and understanding of the design styles that are appropriate for the area in which you live.

For example, someone in Florida may want to consider styles such as Key West, Mediterranean or Contemporary, though there are certainly many other options.

If you like having a relaxed, island vibe to your home, a Key West design style could be an appropriate choice. It often features colorful, tropical fabrics, rattan or wicker furniture and even pine wood interior walls. Key West houses usually have some unique and artistic details.

For a Mediterranean feel, your designer might use earth and water-inspired colors, ceramic or stone tile, sturdy wood or fabric furniture and light, breezy drapes. The Mediterranean home will be comfortable and practical.

A Contemporary design style may be more appropriate if you like a formal look with clean lines and bold statements. The Contemporary home will have fewer frilly or ornate accessories in order to create a minimalist, uncluttered feel. Works of art might serve as focal points within each room, or individual pieces of furniture might be featured.

In Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, on the other hand, families may feel at home in a South Western style decor. Every place is different, and who better to understand those differences than someone who works with them day in and day out. That being considered, you may be inspired by a decor that has nothing to do with the area in which you live. You may live in Minnesota and be in love with an African themed home or have no theme in mind, but love a certain color. Consult with your designer for great ideas on any theme.

It is important that your interior design style works well with the architecture of your house. Your interior design consultant can help integrate the interior and exterior design of your home so that it seamlessly blends together. Careful selection of materials, color, furnishings and accents will help to make a transition in character or reinforce the primary, overall style of the house.

Even simple design changes and style improvements in your home involve many decisions and considerations. An interior design consultant can help you navigate the process from concept to completion, whether it is remodeling one room, updating your lighting or a whole house makeover. You are likely to be less stressed as the work takes place and be happier with the final result.