Monday, June 14, 2010

Georgia O'Keefie Cat

Georgia O'Keeffie-Cat was a feline who began her art career in the city, doing sand paintings in litter boxes.  She embraced an abstract style that was considered very avant garde at the time.  Her stark abstract still lifes of hairballs soon attracted the notice of the already-famous photographer Alfred Steigkitz, who invited her to show her work in his famous Mousehattan gallery.

Steigkitz was taken with O'Keefiee-Cat, as well, and quickly made her not only the darling of the uptown set but the subject of his photographs.  His many nude photos of the young O'Keeffie-Cat, including a series of her bathing herself, soon drew the attention of critics, who quickly pegged O'Keeffie-Cat and her art as erotic.

This upset O'Keeffie-Cat to the point that she changed her style of painting.  Though still using clay litter as her medium, she turned to more representational paintings of scratching posts, mice, and catnip plants.  The critics saw sensuality in those, as well, which drove the already shy O'Keeffie-Cat farther away from both her admirers and her critics.

She sought solace beneath the open skies of New Mexico, where she changed her medium to desert sand, rendering images of dried cat skulls found and desert morsels like cactus wrens found on her walks.

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Steigkitz quickly followed her to her retreat and eventually married her.  But Steigkitz was a legendary hypochondriac who could never be more than 50 miles from a veterinarian.  He spent brief sojourns in the desert with O'Keeffie-Cat and the bulk of his time in Mousehattan.

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This freed O'Keeffie-Cat to develop her style further.  Steigkitz died a few cat-years later, but O'Keeffie-Cat continued her desert sand paintings. She loved nothing more than to stroll the desert looking for natural objects of beauty - a dessicated vole, a petrified lizard... She continued to paint her surroundings until her death at the advanced age of 14 (or 99 in human years).

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Her paintings and her unique view of the southwest endure.

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This Georgia O'Keeffe-like painting is available for purchase here.

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The bracelet is available for purchase here.

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