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Georgia O’Keeffe back home again in Indiana

GeorgiO'Keeffe (1887-1986) Rust Red Hills 1930 oil canvas 16 x 30 inches Sloan Fund Purchase Brauer Museum Art 62.02 |

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), Rust Red Hills, 1930, oil on canvas, 16 x 30 inches, Sloan Fund Purchase, Brauer Museum of Art, 62.02 | Supplied photo

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Updated: April 15, 2014 6:26AM



VALPARAISO — Welcome home, Georgia O’Keeffe.

Or her painting “Rust Red Hills,” anyway, one of her personal favorites and part of the permanent collection at the Brauer Museum of Art on the Valparaiso University campus.

The painting returned to campus Wednesday after a 1½-year tour across the country, during which it survived Hurricane Sandy at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, N.J.

At Brauer on Thursday, museum staff carefully opened the shipping crate and box — both heavily padded with foam — that contained the painting.

“I’m going to put it up today,” director and curator Gregg Hertzlieb said. “We have it as part of a timeline of American art.”

O’Keeffe created the work in oil on canvas in 1930. It was one of her favorites, he said, because she marked it on the back with “OK” and a star.

The museum acquired the painting after its director and founder, Dick Brauer, purchased it from a gallery in 1962.

“Back at that time, American art was not a big moneymaker. It was just starting to come into its own,” Hertzlieb said, adding Brauer got a good price on the artwork. “Consequently, I think our O’Keeffe is the nicest representation of the Southwest I’ve seen, and that’s why it’s so sought after.”

The painting’s most recent tour was its longest. In addition to New Jersey, the painting also was in Denver, Santa Fe, N.M., and, most recently, Phoenix, where officials from the Heard Museum requested the work for a few more months to extend their exhibit.

On other trips, the O’Keeffe has been to Ireland, Vancouver and Spain. Through the Spain exhibit, representatives at the Brauer got to know officials from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which sponsored the most recent traveling exhibit.

The last time the painting was loaned out was about six years ago, Brauer associate curator Gloria Ruff said. “Rust Red Hills” is the museum’s most traveled piece of artwork.

“It’s the most requested painting as well,” she said.

The painting’s traveling days are over for now.

“It’s been gone so long, we just want to keep it here,” Ruff said.

Not many museums own an O’Keeffe, Hertzlieb said, adding “Rust Red Hills” is a prominent work by a major artist that many people in the community don’t even know is here.

“After a while, we have to turn down some of the loan requests,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s never here.”



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