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From painting to poster

“The Beyond,” 1972 oil on canvas by Georgia O’Keeffe. (Courtesy of The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

SANTA FE, N.M. — For the first time in its 63-year history, the Santa Fe Opera poster is a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Its selection came about nearly by accident.

SFO General Director Robert Meya was filing through the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum archives searching for photographs to use as projections for the Santa Fe debut of superstar soprano RenĂ©e Fleming’s performance in Kevin Puts’ song cycle “Letters from Georgia.” The Aug. 10 concert at the Lensic Performing Arts Center is sold out.

“A lot of these letters were of Georgia O’Keeffe writing to Alfred Stiegliz, who was a photographer,” Meya said.

“So Cody (Hartley, the museum director) gave us access to the archives. We landed on an image of this beautiful painting.”

“The Beyond,” 1972, is a minimalist landscape oil on canvas by the artist most associated with New Mexico.

“It came together beautifully, as though it was meant to be,” Meya said.

“Letters from Georgia” premiered in Rochester, New York, in 2016, commissioned by the Eastman Philharmonia.

O’Keeffe once said, “Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. … Since I cannot sing, I paint.”