New York Botanical Garden Georgia O’Keeffe Show – Aloha!

Hibiscus waimeae GOK 6
Hibiscus waimeae GOK 6

Hibiscus Waimeae, endemic to the island of Kaua?i in the Hawaiian Islands, courtesy New York Botanical Gardens

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) sited in the Bronx is an appealing museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization founded in 1891.

Starting in the 2018 Spring through Summer, the NYBG will honour its own, the renowned American twentieth century artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986). The NYBG are producing a landmark show May 19 – October 28: Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i.

The display has been designed by Francisca Coelho, with set pieces by Tony Award-winning set designer Scott Pask.


Georgia O’Keeffe, Pineapple Bud, 1939 Oil on canvas, 19 x 16 in. Private collection © 2018 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Aloha Nights, an evening event program, will spotlight the exotic lush culture that captured Georgia O’Keeffe’s imagination as she revolutionized modern art in her own country during a long lifetime.

Georgia O’Keeffe became one of its most important although prickly cultural icons, celebrated best perhaps for her exceptional powers of observation.

Her fabulous paintings of flowers inspired, enlarged and expanded the European tradition of flower painting during the 1920s. She painted her flowers as if she had seen them through a magnifying lens; big, bold and beautiful.


Georgia, O’Keeffe Hibiscus with Plumeria, 1939, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Sam Rose and Julie Walters, 2004.30.6 © 2018 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Flowers such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while visiting Hawai‘i are included in borders of colourful tropical garden plants in the Edith A. Haupt Conservatory, including frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia and hibiscus, bird of paradise and ginger.

Arial view of the Edith A Haupt Conservatory in the NYBG at dusk

Arial view of the Edith A Haupt Conservatory in the NYBG at dusk

The exhibition will also seek to introduce visitors to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and the ongoing and growing concerns about threats to native Hawaiian plants.

Hibiscus-brackenridgei GOK 7

Yello Hibiscus brackenridge A. Gray, official flower of the State of Hawaii

Hawaii, because of its isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has an unusually high proportion (89%) of endemic native plant species.

Their native yellow hibiscus is the official Hawaii state flower and it grows in dry forests and shrub lands at lower elevations and has a variety of subspecies varying in appearance, growing on its different islands.

The hibiscus, which often forms part of the garland or ‘lei’ visitors are greeted in the islands, is also an indigenous plant native to other tropical and sub-tropical places around the world where it brightens the day.

Georgia O’Keeffe was 51 years of age when she accepted a commission from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company to produce two paintings for their upcoming advertising campaigns.


Harold Stein: Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii, 1939 Gelatin silver print, 5 x 4-1/2 in. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 2006.6.0754 © Estate of Harold Stein

To do that she flew to Oahu in 1939, visiting the islands of Kauai and Maui as well, immersing herself in the landscape and flora of the Hawaiian landscape for some nine weeks, where she encountered stunning views of mountains and waterfalls.

Georgia O’Keeffe integrated art, horticulture and historicity together and the twenty paintings she created, would have a decisive cultural impact on people’s perceptions about the islands and the ecological complexity of its flora. They gained critical and popular attention when first exhibited at her husband Alfred Stieglitz’s (1864–1946) gallery in 1940.

The paintings will be on display in the Art Gallery of the NYBG Mertz Library, some not seen together in New York since their debut.


Harold Stein, [Georgia O’Keeffe on Leho‘ula Beach, near Aleamai, H?na, Maui], 1939, Gelatin silver print, 2 x 2 ? in., Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archive, Yale Collection of American Literature. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library © Estate of Harold Stein

Stieglitz and O’Keeffe married in 1924 and she became his personal icon for the authentic American-born modernist painter, captivated as he was by the allure of her powerful physical presence that reveal she was a very strong individual.

Conch Shell Hawaii

A conch shell on a beach on Oahu, one of the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands have always seemed exotic to visitors with its endless sun, sandy beaches and natural beauty. They were associated with many early explorers and plant hunters, who plundered specimens from the native soil from the seventeenth century onward.


Georgia O’Keeffe Heliconia, Crab’s Claw Ginger, 1939 Oil on canvas, 19 x 16 in. Collection of Sharon Twigg-Smith © 2018 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A rich program of performances, events, demonstrations and activities throughout the Garden, for adults and children, will include a film series and a symposium.

Hibiscus kokio subspecies saintjonuanus. Endemic to the NW valleys of Kaua'i, Hawaiian Islands

Hibiscus kokio subspecies saintjonuanus. Endemic to the NW valleys of Kaua’i, Hawaiian Islands

They will help celebrate the diverse cultural traditions of Hawai‘i past and present, as well as the beauty and variety of Hawai‘i’s flora, recorded before the islands became America’s 50th State.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018


Georgia O’Keeffe, Waterfall, No. I, ‘?ao Valley, Maui, 1939 Oil on canvas, 19 1/8 x 16 in. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee Gift of Art Today 76.7 © 2018 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i
Summer Exhibition 2018
New York Botanical Garden

May 19 – October 28, 2018

Aloha Evenings


Buy Tickets

2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10458

For more information, please call 718.817.8700

The New York Botanical Garden is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road. It is easy to reach by Metro-North Railroad, bus, or subway. The Garden is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday and Monday federal holidays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The best way to enjoy the Garden is with the All-Garden Pass, which includes admission to the grounds as well as to seasonal gardens, exhibitions, and attractions such as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and Tram Tour


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