Day 1: Denver to Taos; the road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch; San Francisco de Asis Church

Looking out of window on my flight into Denver
Out of window on the flight into Denver

After a long day of travel, we finally got into to Denver late last night. We spent the better part of the day driving to Taos, seeing some impressive snow-capped peaks along the way. This evening we are staying at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, which housed many great artists and writers in the past. Georgia O’Keeffe stayed there in the summer of 1929 on an early formative trip to New Mexico.

On the drive to Taos, we passed through San Cristobal and we spotted a roadside sign for the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, where Lawrence lived and wrote for two years. O’Keeffe painted a well-known depiction of a tree located on the ranch (“The Lawrence Tree”).

The road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch
The road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch

We started to venture down the dirt road heading toward the ranch, but decided not to make the full trip due to limitations of time. There was a mountain vista on that road, however, which begged to become the first real film shoot of this trip. Although I wasn’t quite yet in O’Keeffe’s home territory, it felt right, and I would bet that she liked that place.

After this spontaneous side-trip, we continued through Taos and further south into Ranchos de Taos to film the famous San Francisco de Asis church (aka St. Francis church). This structure has been well loved by American artists and photographers, including Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, and of course, Georgia O’Keeffe. I was surprised to find the church smack dab in the middle of a parking lot, making it difficult to get a good wide-shot, but the golden sunset light was exactly what I had been hoping to catch. It was energizing to finally see and film this compelling building.

Tomorrow it’s off to Santa Fe to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and tomorrow evening… Ghost Ranch!

Additional photos:

San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos
San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos
Rocky Mountains on the drive from Denver to Taos
Rocky Mountains on the drive from Denver to Taos
Filming on the road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch
Filming on the road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch

Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired video project (working title: “The Faraway Nearby”)

Among other things, I created this blog in order to document a project that I will be working on over the next several months: a music/animation/video piece inspired by the life and work of painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her relationship to New Mexico and the American southwest. I’m honored to have been awarded an Entrepreneurial Grant from the New England Conservatory Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department to help fund this project. NEC President Tony Woodcock will be my project advisor.

During the last year, I’ve composed an orchestral tone poem (“From the Faraway Nearby”) and two chamber pieces (“Into nowhere” and “To Create One’s Own World”) inspired by O’Keeffe’s paintings and her artistic sensibility. This video will allow me to delve more deeply into her compelling vision of the southwestern landscape, and will present my music in a new medium (specifically, the first movement of my chamber ensemble piece “Into nowhere”, which I’m using as the score to the video). I aim to explore the expressive possibilities of the intersection of visual and musical art, combining stylistic elements of music video, musical tone poem, animation, and documentary film.

I will be traveling in northern New Mexico during the next two weeks to visit, research and film of some of the sites in which O’Keeffe immersed herself. On the itinerary: Ghost Ranch, where she lived and where many of the views she painted still exist; various other sites in and around Abiquiu and Taos, including San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos and the mysterious “Black Place” northwest of Ghost Ranch; and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which is hosting an exhibit of her abstract works.

Stay tuned for entries including photos and videos of my pilgrimage into the heart of “O’Keeffe Country”!

UPDATE: The video is finished! See below for a summary of entries covering the filming, editing, premiere performance and other topics related to this project.

Day 1: Denver to Taos; the road to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch; San Francisco de Asis Church

Day 2: “Abstraction” at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; arrival at Ghost Ranch

Day 3: Ghost Ranch and vicinity; the White Place

Day 4: Tour of O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home; 1977 documentary

Day 5 & 6: Return to the White Place; Pedernal with storm clouds; a break in Santa Fe; more at Ghost Ranch

Day 7: Last day of filming; the Black Place

Editing and animation of “The Faraway Nearby” in progress

“The Faraway Nearby” premiere and recording session