Grace Howl Unveils Together & Apart: The Love Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe & Alfred Stieglitz

Love letters, spanning more than 30 years, between Georgia O’Keeffe & Alfred Stieglitz, is the subject of Together & Apart, a thought-provoking exhibition by abstract and experimental artist Grace Howl, opening November 17th at Alfstad& Contemporary in Sarasota, Florida. The show runs through January 13th.

“In her exhibition, Grace has created an imaginative environment that enables the viewer to literally walk into the letters, read them and experience the thoughts and feelings, intimately and personally,” says Sam Alfstad.

Together & Apart: The Love Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe & Alfred Stieglitz showcases 2,500 letters hand-picked by Howl from more than 25,000 pieces of correspondence at the Yale University Library. From 1915 to 1946, painter O'Keeffe and photographer Stieglitz wrote one another — sometimes two and three times a day. The correspondence tracks their relationship from acquaintances to admirers to lovers to man and wife — often living apart.

“For this project, I immersed myself in their lives,” says Howl. “When they met in 1915, Stieglitz was 52 and famous — an internationally acclaimed photographer, with an avant-garde gallery in Manhattan. O’Keeffe was 28 and unknown. Her letters drew me into her life. She was a feminist with a strong character and the determination to do things outside of the norm, ahead of her time. She was a fascinating woman.”

O’Keeffe married Stieglitz in 1924, but five years later she became restless and moved to New Mexico. She liked spending time alone. Over the years she developed a sense of adventure, traveling to Europe and throughout the United States.

“In one of my favorite O’Keeffe letters, she wrote to Stieglitz explaining how difficult it was to paint in the New Mexico sun without the comfort of shade,” says Howl. “It seems male Indians sat under the trees during the hot hours of the day and, as a woman, it wasn’t her place to interrupt them.”

Each had distinctive writing styles. Stieglitz wrote in thick, slanting, black lines and O’Keeffe used sweeping squiggles and curlicues. While researching their letters, Howl noticed that many were written or read while Stieglitz and O’Keeffe were in their respective bedrooms, separated by thousands of miles.

The exhibition features three main components: a ceiling-to-floor silo of letters representing the three decades of their correspondence, a section devoted to "291," the 5th Avenue gallery owned by Stieglitz that became the first venue in America to show the works of Picasso, Rodin, Matisse and O’Keeffe, and a 20-by-20-foot installation with two adjacent bedrooms. Stieglitz’s side represents Oaklawn, his family’s estate in Lake George, New York, O’Keeffe’s side, her room in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

Together & Apart brings the ideas and emotions of these two pioneers of modern American art vividly alive.

About Grace Howl:
Grace Howl is an abstract painter who lives and works in Sarasota, Florida. Blending color and imagery, she wants viewers to have an emotional bond with her art. “Art is a visual experience,’ she says. “It should captivate your imagination and evoke a response.”

Working with designers, architects and individual collectors, Howl’s paintings hang in commercial and private collections in Sarasota, Long Boat Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, New York and the United Kingdom. She has participated in numerous art shows and created art installation projects, including Reimagining Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, at the Ice House, which drew thousands of attendees to view and revisit in February 2014. Together & Apart is a reprise and expansion of that immersive installation.