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When Georgia Was Here

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) Red Landscape 1917, Oil on board, Gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) Red Landscape 1917, Oil on board, Gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation 

August 27, 2016- February 24, 2018

During the centennial anniversary of Georgia O’Keeffe’s time at West Texas A&M University, PPHM will present in its Alcove Gallery, When Georgia was Here, an exhibition of art (primarily paintings & drawings) produced by American artists contemporaneous with her time at WTAMU (August 27, 2016- February 24, 2018). The goal is to inform museum visitors about what American art looked like “When Georgia Was Here.” Objects will be on a rotating basis of 3-6 months per object. The exhibition will be drawn from the PPHM’s own stellar art collection and from public and private collections nationwide.

When Georgia O’Keeffe came to teach at West Texas State Normal College in 1916, American art was in a state of flux. The American version of Impressionism, which had largely held supremacy in the United States since 1885, had reached its twilight. Artists such as Lucien Abrams, a Texan who settled in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1913, will represent American Impressionism in the exhibition.

The Art Nouveau movement, a style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in Western Europe and the US from about 1890 until World War I, was characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms, also held sway “When Georgia was Here.” American artists such as Leon Dabo, who studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs, brought these ideas to the U.S. Dabo’s Summer (Summer Time) will be included in the exhibition, exemplifying this movement.

In January 1916, O’Keeffe’s friend, Anita Pollitzer, showed some of O’Keeffe’s drawings to Alfred Stieglitz at his New York gallery 291. 291 had become the nexus for introducing European Modernism in the U.S. and had, in turn, begun to show the work of American artists influenced by European trends by 1916. After coming to Canyon, O’Keeffe exhibited in a group show at 291 along with Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Stanton Macdonald Wright, and Abraham Walkowitz. PPHM plans to have examples by these 291 artists on exhibition during the run of the show.

In Texas, Frank Reaugh began bringing students to West Texas in the late teens for the first time via Model T Ford. Reaugh and his students sketched en plein air, and often composed their sketches in their own studios back in Dallas. His students such as Hale Bolton, Reveau Bassett, Louis Oscar Griffith, and Edward G. Eisenlohr, became professional artists. Examples of their work from 1916-1918 will be included in the installations of “When Georgia Was Here.”

Finally, in the American Southwest, a group of six artists founded the Taos Society of Artists in July 1915. The founders of the TSA included E. Irving Couse, Joseph Henry Sharp, Bert Geer Phillips, W. Herbert Dunton, Oscar E. Berninghaus, and Ernest L. Blumenschein. These artists began sending touring exhibitions of their work across the United States. PPHM’s excellent collection of TSA artists’ work will be included in the exhibition.

“When Georgia Was Here” will present a new perspective on American art produced between 1916 and 1918.
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