SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) The Palace Press is putting the final touches on a special edition of Margaret Woods new memoir about working for the first lady of New Mexico art, Georgia OKeeffe.
Remembering Miss OKeeffe will be published as an unlimited trade edition in June by the Museum of New Mexico Press and sold for $20.
But by Mothers Day, May 13, OKeeffe aficionados will be able to purchase one of 110 hand-bound editions with fine-art-charcoal paper and 1920s typography, called OKeeffe Stories, for $225.
Wood, now a speech pathologist in Santa Fe, was OKeeffes cook and companion from 1977 to 1982. In 1991, Red Crane Press published Woods collection of OKeeffes recipes, The Painters Kitchen.
On March 8, Tom Leech, curator of the Palace Press, was printing pages of OKeeffe Stories, two at a time, on a 60-year-old Vandercook letterpress.
When I was trying to come up with a feel for this book, I went to the OKeeffe Museum and looked at her charcoal drawings definitely some of her best and most interesting work, he said. I tried to put together a book that had the feel of the materials that she would have used.
Unlike the trade edition, the special edition has no photographs, but it includes an original engraving of the artist by illustrator Barry Moser, using a photograph by Woods father, Myron Wood, that shows OKeeffes deeply wrinkled face as she studies a box of rocks.
I love this photograph of her looking at those stones, Leech said. I would like to think that she would look at this book with that same intensity.
In an interview, Wood said she was 24 and living in Nebraska when a friend who was OKeeffes companion called her to ask if she would like the job. OKeeffe was then 89 and her eyesight was failing from macular degeneration. Wood said she spent the next five years with OKeeffe at her homes in Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.
When I took the job, I had no idea what she was like as a person, she said. I was only familiar with her paintings, so it was an eye-opening experience. She was quite particular, and it just took time for me to learn the way she liked things done in her household.
Wood said OKeeffe, who died in 1986 at age 98, loved to reminisce over supper about her years with Alfred Stieglitz in New York City, her childhood in Wisconsin, her travels, food and current events.
She spoke in such a distinct manner, Wood said. If the plates werent warm enough, because she liked her plates warm, she would say, My dear, these plates are stone cold.
If the food didnt taste quite right, she might say that it hadnt been made with love. And one time, when I thought I might be quite enamored with a man and might even want to marry him, she said, My dear, the law makes marriage a very long thing. Cant you just be tied to him in your heart?