This past Saturday, the New York Botanical Garden opened its summer exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i, a resplendent combination of art and botany from a little-examined adventure—and oeuvre—in O’Keeffe’s prolific life as a painter.
Few know of O’Keeffe’s nine-week travels through Hawaii, prompted by an assignment from Dole pineapple juice for the company’s ad campaign. What’s somewhat funny about the output of over 15 paintings that O’Keeffe felt were distinctly Hawaiian featured many plants that were actually not indigenous to the area. The garden reflects this too: O’Keeffe’s vision of Hawaii and how it appeared to her rather than solely what was essentially “Hawaiian”-only indigenous growth.
The NYBG has done a fabulous job recreating not just the spirit of Hawaii, but Hawaii as O’Keeffe saw it; a stroll through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory features everything from pineapple plants to fabulous blooms to palm trees, all arranged beautifully. They’re sure to enrapture little ones; plus, the plants are interspersed with their botanical information and occasionally info about O’Keeffe’s travels. Plus, these paintings have not been seen together in NYC since 1940 (a year after they were originally painted).
The Garden’s interactive experiences expand beyond the Conservatory and Art Gallery. Visitors can also watch original film Off in the Far Away Somewhere: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Letters from Hawai’i—narrated by Sigourney Weaver!—in the Britton Rotunda, check out a history of Hawaiian flora, track the artist’s travels (which included multiple trains and boats) to Hawaii, and marvel at outdoor sculpture installations by Mark Chai.
They’ve also implemented programming that includes Aloha Nights, Hawai’i weekends, live music with hula dancing, lei-making demonstrations, and far more.
Even NYBG’s menu is in keeping with their Hawaiian theme, including a poke bowl food truck on the garden’s grounds and special bites at the café.
The exhibition is open now through October 28. Visit nybg.org for more information!