As Co-Chair for the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives, I am tasked with bringing positive change to the property.
If you haven’t been to the Ranch, this video is an excellent introduction. If you have been there, please take a few minutes to learn more about the history of the property.
Like what you see? Believe in the cause? Share this video with the world!
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe
This week, the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center is sponsoring a forum on “Balancing Authenticity, Idealism, and Expectations at a Single-Focus Institutions.” This three-day event (Sept. 14-16) has drawn a number of museum directors, archivists, and independent scholars. As well as one English professor and novelist. That would be me. I am taking part on behalf of the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives.
Like Georgia O’Keeffe, I have often been frightened. Also like her, I have pushed myself to act in spite of my fear. Yes, I was a wee bit scared to attend the forum because, after all, what do I know about museums? (Shrug) I’ve wandered through quite a few of them.
Believing in yourself can be difficult, but believing in your cause, in this case the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, well, that’s not hard at all. The Ranch could be and should be a museum and it could be and should be a residency center for the arts.
(BTW: I don’t believe Georgia O’Keeffe was frightened every moment. That’s the sort of hyperbole that the Misfit indulged in at the end of Flannery O’Connor’s story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Do you remember the concluding line of the story? The misfit has just shot the grandmother, and he speaks this line over her body:
“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
But, as a result of my tour, I do know that Georgia O’Keeffe was certainly frightened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Would you believe she had a bomb shelter built outside the bedroom of her Abiquiu home? The docent told us about the bomb shelter, which is built into the side of a hill, as well as all the supplies O’Keeffe ordered to be stored in the shelter. Once she was prepared for disaster, she went right on making art.
Seeing O’Keeffe’s home at Abiquiu is something I’ve dreamed of doing for years, and I am grateful to the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center for the fascinating tour of both the Abiquiu and the Ghost Ranch homes.
In recent years, the caretakers for the Abiquiu house have restored the gardens where O’Keeffe grew most of her vegetables and fruit. History brought to life, quite literally.
While it’s true that Lawrence didn’t raise vegetables at the Ranch, he did have a cow named Susan, and he milked her whenever he could catch her.
In recent years, the Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch homes have been carefully preserved and lovingly tended, but such was not always the case. It’s up to those of us who care about an artist’s legacy to preserve it.
On Monday, February 16th, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives hosted a reception for Joanna and Richard Terry. (My thanks to the UNM Foundation for providing the tea, coffee, and assorted sweets. Thanks, too, to the wonderful bakers at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.
It was a day of celebration and renewal, and I am grateful to all who supported the event with their ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Robert Cafazzo’s blog post explains what all the fuss was about–her name was Frieda Lawrence.
To read Robert’s post, click here
As Co-Chair for the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives, I want to thank Mike Bush and Andrew Stiny of the Albuquerque Journal for this informative and engaging article on the Ranch.
I note that my favorite cat is featured in two of the photographs. More on the mysterious, portentous cat in a separate post.
The purpose of the ranch initiatives is to preserve the legacy of novelist D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda Lawrence. Widely considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, the British novelist owned only one piece of property in his lifetime, a 160-acre ranch located some fifteen miles outside of Taos, N.M. which was bequeathed to UNM by Frieda Lawrence. Fundamental to the mission of the ranch initiatives is preservation of the property and historic buildings.
This past Wednesday and Thursday, National Geographic photographers visited the D. H. Lawrence Ranch. Unlike most folks, who go to the Ranch during the daylight hours, these photographers trekked up to the Homesteader Cabin after nightfall, when nocturnal animals emerge under the cover of darkness.
The owls and coyotes must have been watching as the photographers set up their tripods around the Lawrence Tree and aimed their cameras skyward, through tangled tree limbs and toward the stars. Eighty-five years after Georgia O’Keeffe lay back on a carpenter’s bench and got lost in the stars, National Geographic photographers made the journey to see what she saw and record it for the rest of us.
I will be writing more about O’Keeffe’s famous painting in weeks to come. To get a quick lesson and two minutes of splendor, visit this site.
On July 31st, I received similar e-mail messages from three different friends–Katherine Toy Miller, Bill Haller, and Feroza Jussawalla. These friends wrote to alert me to an article in the New York Times entitled, “Circle of Artists in Taos.” Tucked into the “Art and Design” section of the Times, the article begins this way:
The only property owned by the British novelist D. H. Lawrence, which he called Kiowa Ranch, near Taos, N.M., reopened to the public in early July after years of being a shuttered health hazard.
Interested readers will find the complete article is available here. (Note that you’ll have to first scroll past–or read if you so desire–the article on delicate Chinese albums in order to find the piece that references the Ranch.)
But, the article in the Times is not the first or the last word on the reopening of the Ranch.
A quick search on Google took me to several others. The most recent appears today in the Los Alamos Daily Post. West Texas television stations carried the news as well, but for me, anyway, the most startling fact is this one. On July 31st, three days ago, the Albuquerque Journal carried a short article on the reopening–nothing much, no more than 120 words or so. But get this: In the three days since the article appeared, 43,367 people have “liked” the article on Facebook.
Over 43,000 readers of the Albuquerque Journal have signaled the article’s importance by “liking” it. In just three days!
Those of us who care about the property and who live in the area already know that the credit for the reopening goes to the Taos Community Foundation and the D. H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance. The Alliance is funding the docent program which will train volunteers to offer tours of the property. This class is being offered through UNM Taos, and potential docents can find more information here.
I’ll be writing more about the D. H. Lawrence Ranch in coming weeks. For now, I’ll simply thank the Taos Community Foundation and all those in Taos who made the reopening possible. Bravo!