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Screening  |  AWAKENING IN TAOS and Tour

Saturday, May 6, 2017, 12:30 pm

Enjoy a screening of Awakening in Taos followed by a tour of Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West . Free with gallery admission.

Awakening in Taos is an award-winning documentary about the extraordinary life of Mabel Dodge Luhan, influential writer, salon hostess, patroness of the arts and catalyst for cultural change. In 1917 she moved from Greenwich Village to New Mexico. Inspired by the native culture and distinctive landscape of Taos, New Mexico she promoted a vision of social transformation. She broadcast this ideal by inviting to Taos many famous and iconoclastic artists, writers and social activists, in her words, “the movers and shakers” of the early 20th century. Her list of guests included D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Willa Cather, John Collier, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Carl Jung among a host of many.

Awakening in Taos is narrated by actor Ali MacGraw and features Leslie Harrell Dillen as the voice of Mabel Taos actor and photographer Zoe Zimmerman portrays young Mabel in historic re-enactment sequences. The project’s production company Awakening in Taos, LLC, has a mission to make meaningful films about extraordinary people who live or have lived in New Mexico. Heading this project are producers Katie Peters, Pat Hall, Jill Drinkwater and writer-director Mark J. Gordon. Support comes from a unique consortium of creative independent women, actors, film professionals and volunteers who believe in this story about one of New Mexico’s most remarkable women: Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Mabel was born to a wealthy family in Buffalo New York at the height of the Victorian era. As a child and young woman, she experienced little warmth and no sense of meaning within the confining social conventions of the age. The role of women was passive and secondary in a world ruled by men. Literally tricked into her first marriage, she became a widowed mother when her husband died in a hunting accident. Confused and depressed, her mother sent her to Europe, the customary cure for emotional distress among the Victorian upper class. In Paris, she met architect Edwin Dodge who became her second husband, and in her quest to experience aliveness, she acquired a villa in Florence Italy and soon launched a salon. She met Gertrude Stein and hosted many now famous modern artists, musicians and poets on the cutting edge of social change in pre-World War One Europe. In this heady milieu, Mabel charged into the complexities of self-discovery.
In the ensuing phase of her life, she experienced several failed marriages and disappointing love affairs before eventually taking responsibility for her own happiness. Producer Kathleen Peters notes, “Mabel grew up a tormented young woman. For her to expand from repressed Victorian into a leading exponent of the modern age was a huge character arc. She did so using the tools of Modernism—art, psychiatry, travel, marriage and divorce.”

Intuition and a sense of adventure were the impetus that first brought Mabel to the remote New Mexico town of Taos. While visiting third husband Maurice Sterne in Santa Fe, at that time on the outer edge of civilization by east coast standards, Mabel made up her mind to take the 17-hour trip to Taos. She found the stark natural, almost supernatural purity of the place in exquisite contrast to anything she had previously known. To her, Taos seemed a harsh mirror exposing all that was false strained and without heart in the world from which she came. She soon rented a house in Taos and before long began visiting the Red Willow (Tiwa) People in nearby Taos Pueblo.

It is hard to overemphasize the impact that this ancient pyramid of rectangular mud homes had on the new visitor. Soon after discovering the Pueblo, Mabel met her last husband, Antonio Lujan a full-blooded member of Taos Pueblo. Their marriage lasted 40 years ending with her death. Tony passed the following year. Such a pairing was almost inconceivable for their time. Tony especially sacrificed his considerable tribal powers to be with Mabel and share her vision.

With Tony she campaigned to defeat the Bursum Bill of 1924 that, had it passed, would have taken hundreds of thousands of acres of sacred lands away from the 19 New Mexico tribes. This campaign set into motion the events eventually resulting in the return of 45,000 acres including their sacred Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblo. Mabel also made many contributions to the Town of Taos including the donation of a building once constructed for her son to the Town for Holy Cross Hospital. Her greater vision of the intuitive, earth based spirituality of Taos Pueblo as a model of wholeness for a civilization that had lost its perspective and humanity remained beyond her reach in time.


Mark J Gordon, Director, Screenwriter
Kathleen (Katie) Peters,Executive Producer
Pat Hall, Producer
Michael Kamins: Executive Producer at New Mexico PBS
Leslie Harrell Dillen, Actor—Voice of Mabel Dodge Luhan
Ali MacGraw, Actor/Activist—Narrator
Zoe Zimmerman, Actor/Artist—Appearing as Mabel in re-enactment scenes
Blue Spruce Standing Deer, Voice of Tony Lujan, Taos Pueblo Consultant
Bob Willis: Cinematographer
David Leach, Editor
Tom McCarthy, Producer, Archival Film
Jill Drinkwater, Producer and Story Consultant
Nancy Kenney, Producer, Sound Track Supervisor and Composer
Jennifer Schiffmacher, Grant Writer—Script Consultant
Ellen Bradbury, Executive Director of Recursos de Santa Fe, a Non-Profit Fiscal Agent
Kathryn M Davis, Art Historian—Writer, Editor, Script Consultant
Beth Kennedy-Jones, Script Consultant, Actor, Dramatic Coach
Lois Palken Rudnick: Script Consultant, Biographer
Flannery Burke: Biographer
Cindra Kline, Writer/Editor—Script Consultant
Bruce H. Begin, Associate Producer, Senior Development Consultant
Martha Corder, Funding Development Director
Carole Baker, Internet Consultant—Social Media Director
Marti Fenton, Producer, Story Advisor