IMA exhibit curated by Carmel resident Harriet Warkel


By Sophie Pappas

The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwest Still Life” is now open, and Carmel resident Harriet Warkel couldn’t be more excited.

“I was thrilled when they asked me back,” Warkel said during a recent walk through the exhibit.

Warkel was formerly the curator of American Art for the IMA for 26 years. Then, this year she was asked to return as guest curator for the “Southwest” exhibit.

Although the exhibit, which will go on tour nationally after its run in Indianapolis, focuses on many of O’Keeffe’s famous pieces that were crafted in New Mexico, Warkel said that if anyone only comes to see O’Keeffe’s works they would be “missing the whole point.”

“[O’Keeffe] loved the Southwest,” Warkel said. “The east was becoming industrialized and artists were looking for something unique to paint.”

The time period that Warkel speaks of is the md-1900s when a flood of New York City artists, well established in their fields, broke free from the sky rises and landed in New Mexico, many who helped to start the Taos Society of Artists.

O’Keeffe herself once said: “Once I saw New Mexico, that was mine.” Not all artists stayed in New Mexico, but for O’Keeffe she loved it enough to eventually build two homes there. By the time her husband died in the 1940s, New Mexico was her permanent residence.

While in the Southwest, O’Keeffe focused mainly on painting her well-known flowers, however she did dabble in architectural pieces and striking images of bones. Other artists, whose works are also on display at the IMA, painted Hispanic and Native American images.

The exhibit is available for public viewing until Feb. 15.

Warkel, who is a member of Carmel’s art council and is an artistic jewelry maker herself, said she hopes Carmel residents come out to see the exhibit.

“We are an art city,” she said of Carmel. “And the IMA has so much to offer, not far from Carmel.”

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