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"Artmaking is not about how smart you are but rather about visualizing what you feel"

—Robert Zakanitch

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« Day 3 headed home from Taos | Main | Taos Day 2 -The Couse/Sharp¬†Historic Site »
Thursday
Sep082016

Mabel Dodge Luhan at the Harwood Museum

After learning all we could at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site we ran down Bent Street to have a quick lunch at the Deli. It was hard to pass by Ortenstone/DeLattre Gallery where we bought a wonderful piece 3 years ago. We were on a mission. After all, the trip was planned to see the Mabel Dodge Luhan Exhibition at the Harwood Museum, and we were scheduled to leave the next morning.  Just as we arrived at the Harwood, the rain started. Always good to have rain in New Mexico.

“Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West is a traveling exhibition organized by the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico that focuses on the life and times of one of the early 20th century’s most significant, yet under-recognized cultural figures: Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962). 

Luhan brought modern art to northern New Mexico, putting Taos on the national and international maps of the avant-garde and creating a “Paris West” in the American Southwest. From 1918–1947, Luhan influenced legions of European and American “movers and shakers” to find in northern New Mexico’s physical and cultural landscapes new aesthetic, social, and cultural perspectives on modern life.

This exhibition will be the first to explore the impact Mabel Dodge Luhan had on the art, writings and activism of the 20th century American Modernism. D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, John Marin, John Collier, Marsden Hartley, Paul Strand and Andrew Dasburg—among scores of other luminaries—were summoned to Taos by Mabel and subsequently found, in the remote high desert, intellectual and spiritual inspiration for their work. The work of these artists will be presented in relation to Pueblo and Hispano artists to examine the cultural exchange that formed a unique ‘Southwest Modernism’.”

It was wonderful to see the paintings and to understand the adventurous life of Mabel Dodge Luhan. I learned more about all the players…D.H. Lawrence and Frieda, Dorothy Brett. We have a new understanding of how New Mexico became an international arts community. Now I have knowledge of the Taos Society of Artists, the Taos Modernists, and the Taos Seven that were active in the 70’s and 80’s and on.

We went back to Casita Pepper to dry off and drink coffee from Old World Coffee. Then we had a date to meet Kay and Tom Decker at the Taos Inn for drinks. Kay and Tom ran 2 successful galleries in Taos, Magic Mountain and Creative Expressions. Tom was a driving force behind the Taos Art Institute. The Deckers have been active community members in Taos since 1979. They add much to the texture of Taos. As our small world would have it, Kay and Tom are Aunt and Uncle to our neighbors …Karen, Gary, Lucy and Mimi Huitt. Since Kay and Tom have been in Taos since 1979, they knew my mother while she was Director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Cynthia and I thoroughly enjoyed our rich conversation with the Deckers. I loved hearing stories of the wild Taos of the 70’s and 80’s, and about current issues of concern to Taos. Also, it is so encouraging to hearof their success and what they know about selling art. They are both smart, creative, and humble.  What a great couple, who are living their dream. We look forward to continuing the conversation next trip. 

Then a soak in the hot tub and soup, and wondering, as we fell asleep, if we should have booked 4 nights.

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