We were in Dallas last weekend, visiting dear friends and seeing their new home. While in town, we visited the Dallas Arboretum, which was featuring a Dale Chihuly installation. I've loved his work since first seeing it in 1999 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The gardens were gorgeous, the Chihuly pieces were strange and breathtaking as always, and there were 50,000 pumpkins scattered throughout the garden, culminating in the Pumpkin Village.
The Arboretum also features five adorable "Small Houses of Great Artists," which are little playhouses created in the style of five great artists: Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet. Each house is surrounded by beautiful landscape and features a placard with the artist's biography.
Felix was pretty restless by the time we came to this part of the garden, but as we passed the adobe style playhouse of Georgia O'Keeffe, a line from her biography jumped out at me.
...she stopped working as an artist because she knew it would be impossible to distinguish herself within that tradition [imitative realism].
Now I've read several books about O'Keeffe, but I'd never before read that she completely gave up painting for four years. Wikipedia confirms this and places this moment in the fall of 1908, when she was 21 years old.
This stunned me, to think that Georgia O'Keeffe, this monumental female artist whom I revere and respect, had such a large crisis of confidence that she would abandon the idea of a career in art for four whole years.
I have no large conclusions to draw from this knowledge. But I will feel less alone in those darker moments when I wonder what all of these words and photographs are building towards.