About the Experience

Music for the Eyes: A New Georgia O’Keeffe Experience opens exclusively at Electric Playhouse on Friday, September 30, and runs through Sunday, November 27. Music for the Eyes will lead viewers through O’Keeffe’s creative process, diving into the mind and inspirations of one of the world’s most iconic and revered artists. Featuring large-scale digital projections, interactive displays, and animation of O’Keeffe artworks, this limited-run exhibit will be a can’t-miss experience for all audiences. 

Introduction

Later in life, Georgia O’Keeffe recalled the experience of an instructor who played different types of music, asking the students to let it inspire their drawing. O’Keeffe recalled:

“This gave me an idea that I was very interested to follow later – the idea that music could be translated into something for the eye.”

Drawing from O’Keeffe’s inspiration, this immersive experience—Music for the Eyes— explores key moments in Georgia O’Keeffe’s development of her highly personal style.

Orientation Experience

The Music for the Eyes experience begins with a 12-minute immersive orientation in 5 chapters featuring interpretations of her works as you’ve never seen them before.

Music featured in this orientation experience can be listened to on the following playlist:

Music selected by Chris Alires in collaboration with the Museum team.

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century. As a leading figure in the development of modern art, she was one of the first painters anywhere to embrace the idea of abstraction. In her paintings and works on paper, natural forms dissolve into expressive shapes, lines, and colors.

Chapter 1: Materials as Language

Georgia O’Keeffe received a traditional arts education in Chicago, Virginia, and New York. By 1915, when she was in her late twenties, she was struggling to find her own voice in her art and for a time stepped away from painting. The following year she decided to start anew, setting aside her training and exploring new modes of expression in radically abstract charcoal drawings she called ‘Specials’.

I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way—things I had no words for.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Chapter 2: Wideness and Wonder

In 1916 Georgia O’Keeffe took a teaching position in west Texas where she found beauty and wonder in the vastness of the canyons and plains. Her work of this period includes a series of watercolors using techniques that utilized sharp controlled lines contrasted with areas where the colors blend more freely.

The wind is careless — uncertain — I like the wind — it seems more like me than anything else — I like the way it blows things around roughly — even meanly — then the next minute seems to love everything.

Georgia O’Keeffe

…it was like the ocean but it was wide, wide land. The evening star would be high in the sunset sky when it was still broad daylight. That evening star fascinated me. I had nothing but to walk into nowhere and the wide sunset space with the star.

Georgia O’Keeffe

…a train that I watched like a star on the horizon—it’s great to watch it moving such a long time—it never came close enough to be anything but a little line…

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe. Train at Night in the Desert. 1916. Watercolor and pencil on paper. 11 7/8 x 8 7/8″ (30.3 x 22.5 cm). Acquired with matching funds from the Committee on Drawings and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chapter 3: New Perspectives New York

New York in the 1920s was a bustling metropolis brimming with new ideas in art, architecture, music, and literature. Georgia O’Keeffe was at the center of this creative energy and became one of the most talked about artists in the country.

I had never lived up so high before and was so excited that I began talking about trying to paint New York. I was told that it was an impossible idea—even the men hadn’t done too well with it..

—Georgia O’Keeffe

Chapter 4: The Universe in a Flower

Georgia O’Keeffe is perhaps best known for her evocative paintings of flowers. Using vibrant colors and simplified shapes, O’Keeffe played with scale by zooming in closely to provide unexpected perspectives. O’Keeffe’s flower compositions both confused and titillated critics in the male-dominated art scene of the time who read sexual and anatomical references into the paintings, but the artist persisted to follow her own path regardless of how others interpreted her work.

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.

—Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe. Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur, 1930. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 40 in. Extended loan.

Chapter 5: Abstract Landscapes

In 1929, during a particularly difficult time in her life, Georgia O’Keeffe took a trip to Taos, New Mexico, 140 miles north of Albuquerque. This trip provided a much needed get-away from New York and served to stimulate her creativity. She began making annual trips to New Mexico and made the state her full time home in 1949. As she had been in west Texas, O’Keeffe was fascinated by the varied landscapes of the Southwest.

The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big far beyond my understanding—to understand maybe by trying to put it into form. To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line or just over the next hill.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

Outro

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

Title Wall

Souvenir Moment

While visiting Taos, New Mexico in 1929, Georgia O’Keeffe (on right) with her friend and travel companion Rebecca Strand (on left) had this tintype portrait souvenir made as a memento of their visit.

Ram’s Head Flower Fun

Octagon

Watercolor Reveal

Georgia O’Keeffe. Three women, 1918. Watercolor and graphite on paper, 8 7/8 x 6 inches. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gift of Gerald & Kathleen Peters.

Island

Slow Looking

“…to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
—Georgia O’Keeffe

Explore the idea of “slow looking” in this experience which re-imagines three artworks created in New Mexico between 1944 and 1950.

Original music composition: Basinski by Chris Alires.

Color Cards

Starting around 1923, O’Keeffe began making small canvas-covered color cards which she used as a visual reference in composing her paintings. Each card was painted a different color, some inscribed with notes in the artist’s hand.

Landscape

Look Closer

“…one rarely takes the time to really see a flower.  l have painted what each flower is to me and I have painted it big enough so that others would see what I see.” —Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe played with scale by “zooming in” and allowing a composition to seemingly extend beyond the canvas. This type of framing was influenced by the emergence of photography as an art form in the early 20th century.

Grey Blue & Black – Pink Circle, 1929.

“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.” —Georgia O’Keeffe

Dancing Lines

Listen to the music featured in Dancing Lines.

Credits

We would like to thank the following people for their work and support on this exhibition.

Electric Playhouse

Luke Balaoro
Max Beck 
Brandon Garrett
Maddy Minnis
Brittany Nacki
Bill Pritchard
Simone Seagle
Eric Yakley

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Liz Neely
Ariel Plotek
Liz O’Brien
Yaritza Pule
Renee Lucero
Krisi Breeze
Dale Kronkright
Liz Ehrnst

Music & Sound Design
Chris Alires
Stock Audio sourced from Soundly and Freesound.org.

Title & Graphic Designs
Rebx Berdel