Art and Memoir

$21.95 paperback

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Weekends with O'Keeffe

C. S. Merrill

Winner of the 2012 Zia Award from New Mexico Press Women

In 1973 Georgia O'Keeffe employed C. S. Merrill to catalog her library for her estate. Merrill, a poet who was a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, was twenty-six years old and O'Keeffe was eighty-five, almost blind, but still painting. Over seven years, Merrill was called upon for secretarial assistance, cooking, and personal care for the artist. Merrill's journals reveal details of the daily life of a genius. The author describes how O'Keeffe stretched the canvas for her twenty-six-foot cloud painting and reports on O'Keeffe's favorite classical music and preferred performers. Merrill provided descriptions of nature when she and the artist went for walks; she read to O'Keeffe from her favorite books and helped keep her space in meticulous order.

Throughout the book there are sketches of O'Keeffe's studio and an account of once assisting O'Keeffe at the easel. Jockeying for position among the helpers O'Keeffe relied upon was part of daily life at Abiquiu, where territorial chows guarded the property. Visitors came from far and wide, among them Eliot Porter and even Allen Ginsberg accompanied by Peter Orlovsky. All this is revealed in Merrill's straightforward and deeply respectful notes. Reading her book is like spending a weekend with O'Keeffe in the incomparable light and clear air of Northern New Mexico mountains and desert.


C. S. Merrill is the author of a book of poetry, O'Keeffe: Days in a Life. She is a poet, storyteller, and librarian in New Mexico.


"This is a book that deserves to be read for the insights it offers into the daily life of the complex and gifted O'Keeffe; for the love (I am tempted to write "adoration") that the artist inspired in those around her; and for the evolving and increasingly mature perceptions of the young poet who recorded her observations with such a sustained and clear-eyed focus."


Story Circle Book Reviews

"Anyone interested in the painter and her extremely private daily life will find this thoughtfully detailed account fascinating, for beyond O'Keeffe's high garden walls and guardian chow dogs, Merrill observed 'a visual feast.'"


New Mexico Magazine

"Those of us who never get tired of reading another insider's account of this icon of the modern art world will also take delight in Merrill's book."


Santa Fe New Mexican

5.5 x 8.5 in. 248 pages 24 halftones