CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University announced that unpublished letters from Georgia O’Keeffe will be added to the permanent collection in WT’s Cornette Library at a free event set to take place on O’Keeffe’s 136th birthday at 6 p.m. on Nov. 15.
Officials detailed that Dr. Amy Von Lintel, WT professor of art history and director of gender studies, will speak during her “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Letters at WT” on Nov. 15 in the Blackburn Room. Refreshments will be served in the Texas Poets’ Corner following the presentation.
Von Lintel has published several works examining O’Keeffe’s time in Texas including “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Wartime Texas Letters” in 2020 and “Georgia O’Keeffe: Watercolors, 1916-1918” in 2016.
According to officials, six letters were presented to Von Lintel in a briefcase by Jan Minton, a Canyon woman and granddaughter of Ted Reid, a previous “romantic interest” of O’Keeffe’s during her time in Canyon. The letters were sent to Reid and other members of his family.
“Jan came into my office carrying a heavy briefcase one day in 2016, around the time I was working on my first book project on O’Keeffe,” said Von Lintel. “The briefcase was full of O’Keeffe-related memorabilia that Jan’s family had preserved over the years, including the letters.
“When I opened the case, and saw those letters, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “But the provenance of Jan’s family made sense, so I believed they could be real. I asked several experts from the O’Keeffe Museum to look at them to see if anything looked suspicious and they said no—the handwriting looked right, and the provenance made sense.”
O’Keeffe, officials said, came to Amarillo in 1912 in order to teach for the new Amarillo City Public School system. She left for the east and then came back to the Texas Panhandle to teach at the then-named West Texas State Normal College from 1916 to 1918.
“O’Keeffe did keep in touch with Ted and his family members, and we have other kinds of evidence to corroborate that,” said Von Lintel. “Jan felt that because her grandfather and O’Keeffe met at WT, that the materials should stay in the WT collection, so we thought Cornette Special Collections was a perfect place to preserve them.”
The briefcase and the letter were archived for a few years by The Special Collections and University Archives Department and, according to officials, the letters will be unveiled and placed in a locked display case at the upcoming event.
Von Lintel expressed to WT that the letters “show how connected O’Keeffe felt to certain people she met when she worked here, how they forged a lifetime friendship,” further noting the importance of having them at WT as most of her letters are displayed in libraries like the Yale University Beinecke Library.
“They are representative of Georgia O’Keeffe’s connections to WT and Canyon, and they are a significant addition to the library’s special collections,” said Shawna Kennedy-Witthar, director of information and library resources. “We are happy to now share these with the O’Keeffe art community.”