Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

To be Published: Feb 9, 2016

Based off actual letters between Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia tells about the life and artistic pursuits of painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her breakthrough into the boys-only club of the art world in the 1920s-50s. The book goes into great detail about Georgia and her first lover then husband, photographer and art gallery owner Alfred Steiglitz, who really helped launch her art career. Will she be able to forge her own path in a world where everyone is trying to control her and her art? 4 stars.

I have been a bit obsessed with Georgia O’Keeffe ever since I did some research on her for an art program I was doing at work. So this book seemed the next logical step in getting to know more about her before committing to reading an in-depth biography. Overall, I enjoyed the book and Georgia’s insights on art and love. It was interesting to know the background of why and how she came to paint the things she did paint, especially as painting the enlarged flowers (the thing that made her the most famous) was kind of a casual idea. I thought it was a bit weird, especially given what I have read about her relationships with men outside of her marriage, that the author tried to paint Steiglitz as the womanizer and didn’t say much of anything about her dalliances. My biggest complaint about the book was that the ending really dragged.

I liked how the author added excerpts from real letters between O’Keeffe and Steiglitz to add to the story. You really got an insight into how Georgia felt about being an artist and her relationship with Steiglitz. I’m not 100% sure (unless it specifically says so) which is from a letter and what is the author’s original work, but the book does have some great quotes. In the beginning of the book, Steiglitz sends her some photos he has taken of her during the affair before their marriage, and she sees herself through his eyes, she has “that quizzical, almost feral expression in her eyes–a restless ambition fused with desire.” Steiglitz says this about art the first time she meets him when she was an art student in New York and it really stuck with her: “Art is life. Not reiterative. Not imitative, ever. It’s always new. Otherwise, it is not Art.” Or later when Georgia is frustrated with Steiglitz for how the critics view her and her work, and she tells him:

“I’m an artist, Stieglitz. All this nonsense about the eternal feminine and essential woman and cleaving and unbosoming. This both they smear on my work. It rips away the value of what I’ve tried to do. You tell me not to let talk like this interfere with my work. Well, it does interfere. It will. How can it not? You have to set them straight.”

I think that’s how most professional women feel about their work. We don’t want to be viewed as the feminine version, but as our own version. It is fascinating to see how she viewed herself as an artist because she was so revolutionary. She was an artist at a time where there were hardly any other female artists, and became hugely famous, even after changing her style so much. I also liked how the author described Georgia’s decision to move to New Mexico, that it was “curious, how something as inarguable and simple as wide-open space can rearrange me back into myself.” That’s kind of how I feel about living in the Southwest. Although I miss seasons and trees, there is something that really draws you in about the barren openness and rugged beauty of the Southwest.

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Black Rabbit Hall

Black Rabbit Hall

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

To be published: February 9, 2016

The book starts off with a teenaged girl named Amber talking about the end of her summer vacation in Cornwall at her family’s house, nicknamed Black Rabbit Hall. The next chapter fasts forward to more modern day times with a young bride named Lorna and her fiancee Jon who are searching for the perfect spot to get married, and come across Pencraw Hall (aka Black Rabbit Hall). She cannot explain why but is somehow drawn to the old crumbling house, deciding that it is the perfect place (despite her fiancee’s misgivings) and is invited by the house’s owner to spend a few days there. From here the story jumps back and forth between the 1960s and modern times to tell Amber and Lorna’s story.

The Alton family, made up of Amber and her twin brother Toby are the eldest, followed by a younger sister named Kitty and a brother named Barney. Their parents are happily married and everything is as it should be when they head from Cornwall to London to their ancestral home of Black Rabbit Hall, where they always spend their entire summers. That is until tragedy strikes and their world is turned upside down. Lorna is fascinated with the house and its history, remembering that this was the house that her own recently-deceased mother used to take her to when she was little. However, as she becomes obsessed with learning about the house and the Alton family’s past, she is estranged from her own family. 3-1/2 stars.

It’s hard to believe this is the author’s first book. I thought it was rather good for a first attempt and thankfully the chapters are clearly labeled so you’re not confused when it jumps back and forth in time. I personally liked the gothic feel to the book, which reminded me of Emily Bronte and Daphne Du Maurier. The story keeps you in suspense for most of the book and makes the house almost another character in the book. I think my biggest gripe was that the story went on for way too long, and I nearly gave up on reading it because it was so slow in the beginning. Lorna’s character was a bit whiny and predictable, but at the same time you felt sorry for her. I liked the 1960s story the best, especially Amber’s mother and Peggy.

What to do with $700 Million?

Hi everyone!

I hope you had a good holiday season and a Happy New Year! My family’s Christmas/New Years breaks were quiet and low-key. In keeping with my promise to write more, I decided to do so today. I found this pic this afternoon on my Goodreads feed that made me laugh and think of this blog:

Hermione is the Smartest

Hermione

I have had my first Art Explorers program and got a respectable six kids. It doesn’t seem like a lot but given I couldn’t really advertise for the program due to a flyer issue, it is pretty spectacular. I will do my best to advertise the heck out of the program and work on extending the length. I’m so used to not have any time to do the program (as I did with Kids Cafe), that the first one was rather short. So I’ve added a bit to the next two to make them longer. This month’s program was on The Color Wheel and Pop Art”, and February’s will be on Dale Chihuly. The activity for that program will take longer so I’m not too worried about it. I’m so excited to do the Anglo-Saxon program in March! I’ve worked really hard and managed to squish 600 years of history into 18 slides. I just have to sort out my activity and everything will be awesome.

My first Page Turners (tween book club) meeting will be on Thurs Jan 21st. My co-worker and I asked the kids to have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I have read it before, but of course had forgotten that I had, so this time around I listened to the audiobook version narrated by English actor Michael York (which was fantastic). We’re hoping we get more than one kid this time around, though the past one kid per program have been very enthusiastic about the books, and have some cool activities planned. We’re going to create our own shields and hopefully that’ll segway into talking about the author, why and how he created the book and discussion questions. We plan on having Turkish delight and hot cocoa, snacks featured in the book. I’m rather excited about it!  I’ll post more about it in a couple weeks after it’s occurred. February we will be discussing Jacqueline Woodson’s autobiographical verse novel Brown Girl Dreaming (which I totally loved), and we’re hoping to help the kids create a timeline of the last 10 years of their own life, write their own haikus, and create a self-portrait using their hands and filling in activities that make up their lives.

I had my first DiscoveryTime (Preschool Storytime plus STEM) of the year last Fri and it went pretty well considering it’s the first storytime I’ve done since before Thanksgiving. I ended up having a co-worker watch it, as she is preparing for her first one in two weeks when I’m on vacation to lovely Las Vegas to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary! I did it on Robots, and thought it was a bit short, the kids has a lot of fun creating their own robots out of foam shapes, aluminum foil, pipe cleaners and toilet paper rolls (see my example from last year below). I’m teaching 2 ASL signs per program, as Sign Language is the next big thing in our library’s storytimes. They are using them more heavily in Baby & Toddlertimes where the kids may not be able to speak, but since mine is for ages 2-5, I kind of figured that they would have the hang of that by now. So I’m teaching the word “Silly” (because I like to use the Raffi song Shake Your Sillies Out as my intro music) and whatever the theme is for the day. I’m also teaching my son the signs at home, so we’ve been having fun with that calling each other “Silly Robot”. This week’s topic is on Clouds and the final one of the month will be on Rainbows.

My Robot example

In other news, the Powerball Lottery here in Arizona is up to $1.4 Billion, which is just insane! So naturally everyone is trying to win it. My husband’s job did a pool at $20 a piece to get tickets, plus he went out and got another one for us. So if we were to win, that would be about $700 million a piece after taxes (I think). What would you do with that kind of money? Would you keep it or give it away? I don’t think I would quit my job b/c I know I would get bored otherwise, plus I love it. I could do a lot of things with that kind of money, including the following:

  • Pay off my student loan and though my hubby would probably hate me for saying this, maybe take some in-person classes at a good university for fun/to get a PhD because I could
  • Pay off my husband’s truck
  • My hubby would like a brand new Raptor truck, one of those stupidly expensive trucks with all the bells & whistles (I’ve seen a few around here because of the rich folks that live in Scottsdale)
  • Buy us a house and fix it up – or more precisely, move to the NW coast somewhere and buy a house
  • Put our son into a really good school and put aside a trust fund for going to university
  • Donate a sizable portion to children’s literacy and/or the library
  • My hubby would like to buy a house for his parents in England and have all of us go visit them
  • I would love to be able to travel more, all over the world; to Northern Europe again, or to Greece, Istanbul, or Japan
  • My hubby thinks I should get a new car, but I would probably just fix up his truck and make it really nice
  • Buy some nice art/vintage books