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O'Keeffe and Me: Abstracts of Our Letters

A new website explores the relationship between artist Georgia O'Keeffe and Sculptural Painter Mym Tuma

Mym Tuma
P.O. Box 549
Southampton, NY 11969
Telephone: (631) 728-9310
E-mail address:



(Southampton, NY) O'KEEFFE & ME: ABSTRACTS OF OUR LETTERS is a new Web site ( that reveals an overview of the unique relationship and bond between the legendary artist Georgia O'Keeffe and sculptor-painter Mym Tuma.

Fresh out of graduate school at Stanford University in the mid 1960s, Tuma was traveling to New York to study painting at New York University with Esteban Vicente. She made a detour to Abiquiu, New Mexico to visit Georgia O'Keeffe. It was the first of many visits during a nine-year period.

"Looking back, the simplicity of what I did was the boldness of a young artist who saw no barriers between herself and a living legend in American art," said Tuma. "I think of it as my naiveté of going to a veteran artist and asking to help me launch my new work. The openness and directness of my untutored approach so astonished O'Keeffe that she took me under her wing and I became her protégé of sorts. If there had been fifty people who took the same approach O'Keeffe would have been turned off, but no one else had the courage to say to her: "I understand what you're doing because I understand what I'm doing."

Between 1964 and 1973 Mym Tuma visited O'Keeffe several times and many letters were exchanged between the 24-year old artist and 77- year old veteran painter. They were drawn together by a mutual love of working artists.

The Web site includes a collection of annotated and emotionally-charged correspondence between O'Keeffe and Tuma, along with letters between Tuma and Doris Bry, O'Keeffe's business agent, who also represented Tuma for a period of time. In addition, a narrative reveals how Tuma's artistic life and career were affected not only by her own decisions but also the decisions that she shared with O'Keeffe. She describes the help that O'Keeffe offered her and speculates on the possible reasons why. She also points out how her relationship with O'Keeffe provided the inspiration and perseverance necessary to continue making art.

The late Henry Geldzahler, former curator of 20th Century Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote that Tuma has "taken Georgia O'Keeffe to a new level, in her own style. I am particularly impressed with her . . . portrayal of inner light. Tuma's best pictures are pastels drawn in a rich, impasto-like density of color that glows with light."

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