As I began unpacking the boxes of new books for the school year ahead (more on that later), one book caught my eye. Susan Goldman Rubin’s biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, Wideness & Wonder, is lovely. I opened it intending to “flip” through before moving on to other treasures, but found myself reading it straight through. What compelled me to keep reading was not only O’Keeffe’s fascinating story, but the design of the book. I was turning pages to see what color the next page would be. Not only do the colorful pages enhance the story of O’Keeffe’s artistic journey, they gave me a renewed appreciation for the book’s publisher, Chronicle Books.
Rubin, the author of several other books about artists, tells O’Keeffe’s story in an engaging and clear manner. Wisely, she often let the artist speak for herself. I found this quote from O’Keeffe’s days as an art teacher in Amarillo, Texas to be particularly striking: “I was beside myself,” she said. “The wind – I didn’t even mind the dust. Sometimes when I came back from walking I would be the color of the road.” And, of course, the paper is the color of a dusty Texas day. A few pages later, O’Keeffe is in New York City and the pages are purple and blue.
There are a few young artists with whom I want to share this book. In the meantime, although Boston is a long way from Santa Fe, there are a few O’Keeffe paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts. I plan to go and take a closer look.