Updated: Jan 25, 2022
I have long wanted to visit this one-of-a-kind illustrated landmark to a woman. Fittingly it is to an artist—Georgia O'Keeffe.
It was erected at Wiawaka Center for Women, located on Lake George in New York. The oldest and longest continuously operating retreat for women, Wiawaka was created in 1903 by Mary Fuller as a place for factory "girls" in Troy, New York, to take an affordable vacation. Katrina Trask who had bought the property with her late husband Spencer, gave Fuller the land and Wakonda, a lodge for artists' retreats, for a dollar and a bouquet of flowers. In 1908, George O'Keeffe was one of twenty students from the Art Student League in New York City who came to Wakonda, then known as "Amitola," the Native American word for "rainbow" to paint. Occupying room 18, O'Keeffe extended her stay from a week to a month. Two paintings by O'Keeffe,"Lake George, Autumn, 1927 (Milwaukee Art Museum) and "Dead Rabbit and Copper Pot, 1908), and two photographs of her at Lake George are reproduced on the landmark. The text notes that, since O'Keeffe's stay, "not much has changed since . . . At night she would have noticed the warm glow of the building's rose-colored lanterns." The account of "A Fateful Boat Ride," printed on the landmark, relates the story of O'Keeffe and her companions having to walk back along the marshy perimeter of the lake after their boat was stolen. "In the darkness," she recalled, "it all looked just like I felt—wet and swampy and gloomy, very gloomy." That experience prompted her to realize "that her emotions were a filter through which she viewed the world. She felt inspired to return the next day to paint not only what she saw, but also what she felt."