Picture Desk: The Faraway

Georgia O’Keeffe and Orville Cox by Ansel Adams

In September, I took a trip to New Mexico with a friend. The expanse of sky in the Southwest was as much of an attraction as the green-chili peach pie, and we spent a great deal of time simply staring at it. Exploring Canyon de Chelly on horseback, I watched the clouds approach and grow dark.

The scene reminded me one of my favorite photographs, taken in 1937, by Ansel Adams. The photograph above (which I have tacked to my wall at home) shows the painter Georgia O’Keeffe engaged in conversation with Orville Cox, the head wrangler at Ghost Ranch, on the rim of Canyon de Chelly. Adams and O’Keeffe were part of a group of friends that had organized a monthlong camping trip, during which both artists created new work. Orville Cox acted as their guide.

The location of this photograph was of particular significance, with Adams once remarking, “Some of my best photographs have been made in and on the rim of the canyon.” Though Adams’s large-format photographs of American landscapes made him an icon, for me, this portrait of O’Keeffe and Cox is unsurpassable. read more

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