I didn't know Georgia O'Keeffe

Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe
...or Alfred Stieglitz for that matter. But I did have the privilege of living on their exact same property, at a later date, in upstate NY. The Stieglitz family called it Oaklawn. My family change it to Oak Lawn

The Victorian mansion is still located on Lake George, NY. 
Me and Georgia with Tea Island behind,
off the shores of Oaklawn.
It's now the offices for the surrounding  timeshare condos! Who could ever imagine that it would come to this. Tea Island is still there though. It's the island right off the shores of Oaklawn.

Oaklawn
Buying Oaklawn
The Stieglitz family sold the property to Mrs. Grant who owned a smaller victorian house next to the Oaklawn property. She didn't do much of anything to improved or change things so when she sold Oaklawn to my family, things hadn't changed much since the Stieglitz days.
I can still remember the old Victorian furniture in the "sitting room" off the front entrance that I assume the Stieglitz family left there. 

Oak Lawn Lodge and Cabins
In the 50's my family converted the property to a vacation lodge with cabins. The victorian first and second floors had some interior renovations for guests. The third floor was reserved for "cabin boys" like my cousins who served and cleaned cabins. They painted their room black and used black lights. But the exterior stayed pretty much the same with the exception of a picture window for dining and guest quarters below.
Oak Lawn brochure
The distant mountains of
Georgia's "Starlight Night" painting.
My aunt dancing inside
the boathouse.
Tea Island in the distance.

There was a pig farm up the hill from Oaklawn
The Barns, Lake George
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
...and the foul smell came down the hill to the victorian. So the Stieglitz family bought the farm and converted the house and barn to the art studio where Georgia painted.The pig smell problem was solved. 

It's my understanding that Georgia wasn't much into socializing but Alfred was. I imagine she stayed up the hill and painted while the Stieglitz family entertained guests like Enrico Caruso down the hill in the victorian. Apparently, she didn't think much of Alfred's family either. She was a bit of a recluse and she thought they were nosy bodies.
Enrico Caruso in Aida.

The Stieglitz family
at Oaklawn, 1888
National Gallery of Art,
Alfred Stieglitz Collection
My grandfather at Oaklawn













In the end...
Georgia came back from New Mexico to bury Alfreds' ashes and she didn't tell his family where. My guess is that she hopped the decorative rope fence at the road, walked down the hill, through the woods to the lake and buried his ashes facing the lake. She wanted him to look out over the lake.
The woods are shown here to the
left of the victorian and above
the boathouse.

The woods are now gone and replaced with the timeshare condos. But I remember them well.  The trees ran down the hill to the lake and along the side of Oaklawn. I figure it would have been a good way to conceal herself from his family while she buried his ashes.

My reaction to Georgias' comment about green trees.
Oaklawn. Oil Painting on
hardboard by P.A. Margis
In the end she was uninspired by too many green trees and mountains and found a new color palette in New Mexico. I had a serious problem with this idea of being uninspired by green trees. Maybe it's my protectiveness and love of Oaklawn. But I'll paint trees any color I decide to paint them. Green and yellow checkers with purple leaves on trees? No problem. So in the end, I painted "Oaklawn" as a reaction to Georgia. The white dotted lines over the purple area represent the private journey she took down the hill and through the woods to the lake below.

This looks like the exact spot by the
kitchen where Dad caught me.
It also represents the journey I took up the hill to the road one night with my sister and brother. We were with our cousins and looking for Mrs. Grants' granddaughter who had run away into the woods. We snuck out of bed to go look for her. It was late and we shouldn't have done it. Dad caught us.


My favorite O'Keeffe painting. It's personal.
She painted my view from
the end of the boathouse.
"Starlight Night, Lake George"
by Georgia O'Keeffe

It's a painting of Lake George that personally touches me very deeply. I can remember a specific night on the lake just like that painting. When I was about 8 years old, I went down to the boathouse with a chubby, little boy who was a guest. We sat at the end of the boathouse and looked out across the lake together. The night sky, distant mountains, stars and lights reflecting on the calm lake bring back that memory of young freedom that we shared for a moment.  

NOOOO!!! DID THEY REALLY DO THAT? GASP! SIGH!!!
Dare I even share this with the world? Not sure...but here
goes anyway. Many years ago my dear deceased mother told me that when they bought Oaklawn, that up in the attic there was scattered art. No one knew about Georgia and Alfred back then since they had bought the property from Mrs. Grant. My mother said that the art in the attic wasn't any good so they threw it all away!! 

Was it junk?
I'll never know.
As I gasped, I held back my shock. She was old and frail by then and my father was long gone. There was no need to alarm her. So I just raised my eyebrows, clenched my shirt and walked away. What else could I do? I'll never know for sure, but was history lost or was it just old junk?

Vase from Oaklawn
The only thing I have left from Oaklawn are photos, memories and this vase.
Since there is no documentation that this vase actually came from Oaklawn and the Stieglitz family, other than my mother telling me, it's not worth much money.
But the memories of walking down the same halls as Alfred and Georgia are priceless.
The end of the boathouse where I sat at night and watched the 
lights below the mountains reflecting on the lake just like
Georgia's painting "Starlight Night, Lake George".

During the day, guests enjoyed water skiing, being pulled
by the "Oak Lawn" boat. I doubt if anyone was aware of
Oak Lawns' previous history as "Oaklawn".