BARBARAHASKELL: In 1929, O’Keeffe took her first trip to New Mexico—the first of what would be yearly trips thereafter. This is one of the first paintings that describe an experience in New Mexico. This is a rodeo that she saw, and you can tell from this picture that she’s totally engaged with the riotous color and the forms of—of this art form that she’d never seen before.
NARRATOR: O’Keeffe responds here to the vibrant colors of the costumes and the swirling energies of human and animal life. She was also taken with the rodeo as the great mythic activity of the American Southwest, a landscape she loved.
GEORGIA O’KEEFFE: When I got to New Mexico, that was mine. That was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly.
It’s something that’s in the air. It’s just different. The sky is different. The stars are different. The wind is different.
NARRATOR: O’Keeffe continued to spend a good deal of time on the East Coast—in New York and a Lake George summer home. But she began going to New Mexico with increasing frequency through the 1930s and bought a house there in 1940.