The gray landscape shivered around us as we hurried toward the warmth of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) entrance. The large glass panels of the lobby windows kept the dreary day close at hand as we purchased tickets for the “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life” exhibit and rode quietly up the escalator.

But the warm colors of the exhibit walls and the openness of the sparse display quickly welcomed my husband and me into the sunny Southwest where O’Keeffe found her deepest inspiration. She was one of many artists who fled the crowded cities East of the Mississippi and made their way to the wide open spaces of New Mexico.

Ironically, when the artists arrived, many of them huddled together in colonies, seeking and finding for themselves the artistic communities their previous homes had afforded. While O’Keeffe herself chose a more solitary existence, eventually living alone full-time in New Mexico after her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, died, her world became very small in that great open West. Most of her paintings were of the landscapes she saw from her windows and the objects she collected from the landscape surrounding her home.