Ghost Ranch West I


“It is not a country of light on things. It is a country of things in light.”
—Georgia O’Keefe

An hour north of Santa Fe, begins a landscape of vast vistas, flat-topped mesas, and tall cliffs with  winding rivers bordered by huge old cottonwood trees. Ghost Ranch lies in the broad shallow Chama Basin along the eastern margin of the Colorado Plateau as it transitions toward the Rio Grande Rift further east. Occupying parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, the Colorado Plateau has been a relatively stable block in the Earth’s crust for at least 600 million years; consequently the rocks around Ghost Ranch are generally flat-lying and less mildly deformed by broad-scale folding.

The oldest rocks exposed in the Ghost Ranch area belong to a thick package of brick-red to red siltstone and mudstone and white to tan sandstone, deposited by rivers more than 200 million years ago when the Ghost Ranch area was located about 10 degrees north of the equator.

In 1929, painter Georgia O’Keefe first began working part of the year in northern New Mexico, which she made her permanent home in 1949. Between 1929 and 1949, she spent part of nearly every year working in New Mexico. Then in 1934 she first visited Ghost Ranch, north of Abiquiu and decided immediately to live there.

Ghost Ranch’s varicolored cliffs inspired some of her most famous landscapes. “The cliffs over there are almost painted for you – you think – until you try to paint them.” O’Keefe wrote in 1977. “Such a beautiful, untouched, lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the ‘Faraway’. It is a place I have painted before…even now I must do it again.” So how can I resist painting this same landscape with my camera, using the foil of time to render my own interpretation?

To view more images of Ghost Ranch, see Ghost Ranch II and Ghost Ranch III.

Pedernal<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Chama Basin<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Chinle<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Chinle II<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Mesozoic<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Sandstone over Mudstone<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011 Sandstone over Mudstone II<br>Ghost Ranch West I - 2011