Above/featured: Ghost Ranch: Chimney Rock is in shadow at centre-right. Photo location: 36.31882 North, 106.48006 West.
This is the start of a series on day trips and drives from our time in the American Southwest. The following takes place entirely within day 7 (of 15) in New Mexico between Santa Fe and Abiquiú.
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is known as one of the best known modern American artists. Born in Wisconsin and educated in Chicago, her art came to light in New York City where her name and work became prominent. While teaching in Texas, she visited New Mexico for the first time in 1917. She fell in love with the landscape of New Mexico on subsequent visits in the early 1930s, and in 1949 she moved to the Abiquiú area where she would live for the rest of her life.
As fans of her art, we’re taking the day to drive up from Santa Fe to the town of Abiquiú. We wanted to see Georgia O’Keeffe country: the landscapes from which she drew inspiration, and the land that nurtured her spirit and fuelled her creativity.
Before our guided tour of O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú home, we stop at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm next door to have a look. We like it so much we return after the guided tour to the farm’s café for a snack. We then make the short drive northwest onto the Ghost Ranch property to check out the ancestral lands of the Navajo Apache and Tewa pueblos. O’Keeffe recognized the importance some of that history, as she related in an 1967 interview for the Los Angeles Times’ “West” magazine:
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’m gone.
On our return drive to Santa Fe, the sun sets over our section of the Southern Rocky Mountains, and I swear the late-afternoon breeze whispers the spirits of the Chama river, Georgia O’Keeffe, and all the souls who’ve inhabited the area.
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Before Bauhaus found its first footing in Weimar, there was in the town of Alfeld in central Germany the Fagus-Werk factory building.
The Fagus factory building is looked upon as the first building in the world for the modern architectural age, and is the predecessor to the elegant 1926 Bauhaus headquarters building in Dessau. Fagus company founder Karl Benscheidt commissioned architect and future Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to create and build a shoe-making factory as an artistic project. Gropius and his collaborator Adolf Meyer stuck with working floor-plans by architect Eduard Werner, and set their sights on new exterior and interior designs. Completed in 1911, the factory’s office building set a new standard for 20th-century industrial architecture with steel and glass construction and tall unsupported windows at the corners of the building.
“Fagus” is Latin for “beech tree”, and shoemaking began with shoe lasts or moulds constructed from beech wood, which were sold and distributed around the world to other companies for the productions of shoes. In the 1920s, Benscheidt developed the turning precision-lathe speeding up production, prompting growth and expansion and elevating the company to world’s top producer of shoe lasts. Today, the building is still a working factory: Fagus creates plastic lasts milled by automated machinery to precise specifications for specific designs by shoe companies. Also on-site is GreCon which produces systems for fire-detection and fire-extinguishing in industrial settings. The Fagus factory building was recognized as “unique living monument” and inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site (Welterbe) in 2011.
With a population of over 20-thousand people, Alfeld is located in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The town’s reach by train is 30-minutes from Hannover or 40-minutes from Göttingen, after which is a short 5- to 10-minute walk from Alfeld(Leine)1 train station to the entrance of the Fagus/GreCon complex. Visitors can walk around the working factory site, stop at the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, sit in the neighbouring café for coffee or tea, and visit the museum dedicated to the building’s origins, the building’s century-long history of shoe-making, and a general history of footwear.
Walter Gropius and others would move to Weimar to establish a centre of art, design, thought, and attitude for Bauhaus in 1919, eight years after inauguration of the Fagus-Werk.
Die Baukunst soll ein Spiegel des Lebens und der Zeit sein.
(Architecture should be a mirror to life and its time.)
– Walter Gropius.
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