AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Unpublished letters of iconic artist Georgia O’Keeffe officially will be added to the permanent collection of West Texas A&M University’s Cornette Library during an event to be held on O’Keeffe’s 136 birthday.
Dr. Amy Von Lintel, WT professor of art history and director of gender studies, will speak during a Friends of the Cornette Library event at 6 p.m. Nov. 15. Von Lintel is a renowned expert in O’Keeffe’s time in Texas and published “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Wartime Texas Letters” in 2020 and “Georgia O’Keeffe: Watercolors, 1916-1918” in 2016.Von Lintel’s talk, “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Letters at WT,” will take place in the Blackburn Room, with refreshments to follow in the Texas Poets’ Corner, both located on the library’s second floor. The event is free and open to the public.Six letters were inside a briefcase given to Von Lintel by Jan Minton, a Canyon woman and granddaughter of Ted Reid, a friend and former romantic interest of O’Keeffe during her years in Canyon. O’Keeffe sent the letters to Reid and other members of his family in Canyon and elsewhere.“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,” Von Lintel said. “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. 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 came to Amarillo in 1912 to teach for the new Amarillo City Public School system. She left to spend time in the East, then returned to the Panhandle to teach at the then-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,” Von Lintel said. “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 Special Collections and University Archives Department has housed the briefcase, including the letters, for a few years. The six pieces of correspondence will be unveiled at the event and placed in a locked display case.The six letters “show how connected O’Keeffe felt to certain people she met when she worked here, how they forged a lifetime friendship,” Von Lintel said. “It is also quite magical to have original letters in the hand of O’Keeffe in our collection; most of her letters are in bigger places like the Yale University Beinecke Library, but to have our own few letters is really exciting.”The letters are an important acquisition, said Shawna Kennedy-Witthar, director of information and library resources.“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,” Kennedy-Witthar said. “We are happy to now share these with the O’Keeffe art community” Von Lintel recently was featured speaking about O’Keeffe’s time in Canyon on “Around Texas with Chancellor John Sharp,” in which Sharp highlights The Texas A&M University System’s students, faculty and staff.Fostering both an appreciation of the arts and of the distinctive Texas Panhandle region are key components of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.
About West Texas A&M UniversityWT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.