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A tribute to Georgia O'Keeffe blossoms in the desert of New Mexico

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When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore ...unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I am gone.
---Georgia O'Keeffe
July 24, 1997
Web posted at: 2:14 p.m. EDT (1814 GMT)

By CNN Interactive writer/editor Laurel Shannon

(CNN) -- More than a decade after her death, Georgia O'Keeffe's determined spirit not only lingers in the burnt vistas and striated outcroppings of northern New Mexico, it has found a home. With rosy brown adobe, abundant skylights and white-washed walls, a museum in Santa Fe has synthesized the region's love for O'Keeffe with the painter's love for the landscape.

And, if opening weekend was any indication, it's a dynamic combination. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, unveiled July 17, saw more than 3,000 visitors a day in its first four days. It began charging admission July 22, but director Peter Hassrick says lines remain long. The museum only holds about 200 visitors at a time.

"I think (O'Keeffe) would've been pleased with the fact that her art is still appreciated, and I think she would've been very honored by the effort that has gone into making the museum a special place," he says.

"She might be less interested in the hoopla," he adds, with an affectionate irony.

In his words ...
An interview with the director of the O'Keeffe Museum
A brief history of a long life ...
Georgia O'Keeffe 1887-1986

The 13,000-square-foot museum houses a permanent collection of almost 90 paintings, watercolors, drawings, pastels and sculptures O'Keeffe created between 1916 and 1980. It is billed as the first art museum in the nation dedicated to a woman artist of international stature, a designation that may have made O'Keeffe bristle a bit -- she once commented, "The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I'm one of the best painters."

Hassrick echoes her assertion. "I don't particularly care what gender she was. She was good," he told El Palacio, the magazine of the Museum of New Mexico. "She was monomaniacally dedicated to her profession and the practice of her art; it's what she did every day of her life."

O'Keeffe's love affair with New Mexico


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