The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is showcasing through the end of June, “Yayoi Kusama: A Letter to Georgia O’Keeffe” as part of its eighth annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition. This event highlights the significant contributions of renowned artists, focusing on their relationship with nature. See this one minute video highlighting the exhibition, courtesy of Candace Carson/

Scheduled from February 11 to June 30, 2024, at the Downtown Sarasota campus, the exhibition delves into the unique mentorship between Yayoi Kusama and icon artist Georgia O’Keeffe, showcasing their profound influence on each other’s work and the art world at large.

Jennifer Rominiecki, the President and CEO of the Gardens, says the exhibition “emphasizes its exploration of the deep connection between Kusama and O’Keeffe. This relationship, fostered through personal letters during a pivotal moment in Kusama’s career, offers a fresh perspective on their artistic legacies, particularly their shared inspiration from nature.”

About Yayoi Kusama: A Letter to Georgia O’Keeffe 

In the mid-1950s, Yayoi Kusama was a young artist living in Japan, where her future was very uncertain. Seeking advice from a more established female artist, Kusama wrote to Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work she greatly admired but whom she had never met. To Kusama’s surprise, O’Keeffe responded, thus establishing a correspondence that gave the young Japanese artist the courage to move to America and pursue her career in New York City, which was then the center of the art world. Kusama’s decision, with O’Keeffe’s encouragement, forever changed the course of modern art history. The exhibition not only celebrates the historical dialogue between Kusama and O’Keeffe but also marks a significant moment in modern art history. It highlights Kusama’s courageous move from Japan to the United States, encouraged by O’Keeffe, which played a crucial role in shaping the contemporary art scene.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) was a prominent American artist known for her paintings of flowers, animal skulls, and Southwestern landscapes. She was a pioneer of American modernism and the first female painter to gain respect in New York’s art world in the 1920s. O’Keeffe’s unique style involved simplifying shapes and forms to express the way nature made her feel. She was also known for her close-up, magnified flower paintings.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, spanning 45 acres across Sarasota County, Florida, is dedicated to connecting people with the natural world. It boasts a unique focus on epiphytic plants and plays a vital role in botanical research, education, and conservation. The Gardens, a Smithsonian Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, continue to celebrate Florida’s rich botanical heritage and history through its two campuses: the Downtown Sarasota campus and the Historic Spanish Point campus on Tamiami Trail South.

~ Andrea Martone

Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.