4 Ways Georgia O’Keeffe Inspires Me

During my last visit home to Cleveland, I got the chance to attend the Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern exhibit. It was the last weekend of the show, unfortunately. Before seeing it, I never knew much about her other than she lived in the southwest and was famous for her big flower paintings. I’m embarrassed to admit, it wasn’t a must-see show for me. As a Cleveland expat, my home visits are planned down to the hour, making sure I spend time with everyone. I have to choose my extracurricular activities wisely. But after seeing a clip of it on the news featuring some of her handmade dresses and repurposed clothing, I changed my tune. The show went into much more detail than just her famous flower paintings. It showed how her approach to life and art were very much the same. The minimalist aesthetic you see in her paintings is a reflection of her everyday sensibilities, from the way she dressed to the way she designed her home. Her modern approach to life still seems relevant today and left me feeling inspired and ready to follow her cue.

Here were just a few of my favorite takeaways:

1.    If you can’t find the clothes you want, alter what’s available, or better yet, make them yourself.

This really spoke to me. I’ve had the desire to make my own clothing for a long time. It’s only because of lack of time and skill that I haven’t. I have altered or repurposed clothing I found at the thrift store, dying something to make it a more pleasing color or having something hemmed for a better fit. Either option is much more sustainable than our current state of fast fashion.

Silk dresses she made herself.

A button down shirt that she altered to have a straight collar.

2.    If that doesn’t work, borrow from the boys.

This is something every style blogger and fashionista can relate to. We’ve been borrowing from the boys for a long time: boyfriend jeans, oversized button downs, hats, shoes, etc. But, O’Keeffe seemed to be one of the first. The difference, of course, is she was doing it during a time when it wasn’t in vogue. Such a boss!

3.    Find what works for you and stick with it.

In a time of capsule wardrobes and uniform dressing, this is another area where she was ahead of her time. Toward the end of her career, she had two outfits she wore when being photographed: wrap dresses and pant suits. When putting together my capsule wardrobe for spring, the guide I was using said, “Identify some of your uniforms.” Because there is efficiency in knowing what looks good on you. You don’t have to waste time or money obsessing over what doesn’t, giving you more time to do everything else. O’Keeffe clearly reveled in this.

4.    Nature is a great source for inspiration and materials, especially home décor.

This is probably my favorite photo from the exhibit. During her time in the southwest, O’Keeffe let its nature and landscape inspire more than just her art. Animal skeletons were used as subjects, but also as home décor. I feel like faux skulls have become really popular recently. Finding the real ones in the wild seems like a much cooler story and a lot cheaper.

Rubber Duck Project

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman designed this four-story-high rubber duck to “relieve mondial tensions as well as define them.” According to the Rubber Duck Project page, it does not discriminate and has no political connotation. The larger than life duck has been on display in Amsterdam, Lommel (Belgium), Osaka, Sydney Harbour, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong. It made its U.S. debut here in Pittsburgh on Friday. The boy and I attended its arrival in true Pittsburgh fashion: by cramming ourselves through crowds of people on the closed Roberto Clemente bridge. Apparently it stopped traffic as it made its way down the river on Friday. Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Just looking at the crowds of people on Friday night I believe the Rubber Duck Project accomplished that.

An object of beauty

I am currently enjoying one of my Christmas gifts, “An Object of Beauty” by Steve Martin. It’s the story of a girl fresh out of college navigating the art world of New York City from inside the walls of Sotheby’s. You are given the insiders view you always wanted of the glamorous life of art buyers and sellers. An educational anecdote about every piece is like a bonus as well as images of the actual pieces included in the pages. It’s like Art History class without the required memorization of dates. The main character eventually becomes fascinated, almost obsessed, with buying and owning a few extravagantly expensive paintings herself. It’s like the game you play after walking the galleries of an art museum, “Which one would you take home?”, but for real.

Personally, I like owning recreations of some of my favorite pieces. From trips to art museums in different cities, I have picked up small recreations of Monet and Klimt—two of my favorite artists. However, sometimes these small printed recreations lack something—a hand touch. So when I was recently contacted by CheapOilPainting.com, I was more than excited to talk about their services. Their Oil Painting Reproductions are guaranteed to be painted 100% by hand. Currently, readers of the Cosmopolitan Clevelander can get 15% off a purchase by using the code SAVE15. If you have a room that needs some brightening or an empty wall that needs filling, I hope you can take advantage of this offer. As you browse the selection, please feel free to let me know: “Which one would you take home?” Here are some of my favorites:

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post.

Fashion story

I love when a magazine editorial can take me to another place. These images I found a little while ago tell a story. The story is up to the viewer. Kind of like when you look at a piece of art in a museum, fashion is sometimes left up to interpretation.The ideas in fashion aren’t always as abstract and complex as fine art, but the feeling of being transported to a different place or time is similar. I guess the message this ad is trying to portray is luxury and intrigue. If the clothes you wear actually made you feel that way, then I would say you must have some pretty nice clothes or that the company who is making them is doing their job.


And besides the feeling this ad campaign or editorial gives me, I am also smitten with the clothes in the image. Which obviously is the whole point.

Blazer from Urban Outfitters, $78


Cashmere sweater from Neiman Marcus, $100

Skirt from TopShop, $65


Leg warmers from American Apparel, $16

(Magazine images from le fashion)

Fine Art: The White House


The New York Times today, featured some of the art that the Obamas chose to display in the White House. Most is modern and contemporary of varying styles both sculpture and painting. Below are some of my favorites. The painting above is by an artist named Glenn Ligon. This particular piece that reads, “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background” is actually on display in Cleveland. The first time I saw it was after the reopening of the East Wing. I am pretty sure that this piece was not displayed until then. I was so moved by the words when I first saw it, and I am glad to see that the Obamas chose a piece by the same artist.

Which pieces would you display in your house?