A Brush with Georgia O'Keeffe
Tue Jul 1 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Theatrical portraits of artists Georges Seurat and Louise Nevelson brought color to their lives and work, so why not a bioplay about Georgia O'Keeffe? A leading artist of the last century, she's best known for the sexual imagery she swore she didn't intend within her vibrant flower paintings. Although playwright Natalie Mosco, who also stars as O'Keeffe, paints a lively and knowledgeable picture of a tenacious artist, seductive muse and moody recluse, A Brush with Georgia O'Keeffe is rudimentary biography.
Mosco touches on the contrasting forces that yanked at the painter—her love of New York versus her longing for the desert; her relationship with photographer and mentor Alfred Stieglitz versus her need for solitude—but pivotal moments are swallowed up by copious recitation that creates a dramatic limbo.
An original Broadway cast member of Hair, Mosco has the fluidity and grace to keep director Robert Kalfin's rapid pacing from becoming dizzying. The production also gets support from David Lloyd Walters and Virginia Roncetti as a myriad of other characters, and visual splash from Marilys Ernst's projections of O'Keeffe's work. The most visceral moment takes place as the artist—who began an affair with the married Stieglitz when he photographed her nude—becomes unhinged after discovering her lover has found a new model-paramour. Elsewhere, sadly, the play only strokes the surface of O'Keeffe's celebrated and controversial life.—Diane Snyder