Read Elizabeth Cunningham on Mabel Dodge Luhan and Buffalo

Monday, April 24, 2017

STORY OF AN EXHIBITION: Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company tells the story of this extraordinary woman and the remarkable people from Buffalo to Europe and New York to New Mexico whose lives—and artistic creations—intersected with hers. Living in Taos from 1918 until her death in 1962, Mabel 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. Her “artist residency” support not only brought modern art to northern New Mexico, it put Taos on the national and international maps of the avant-garde and created a “Paris West” in the American Southwest.

This exhibition is the first to explore the impact Mabel Dodge Luhan had on some of the most compelling modern American artists, writers, and social activists. These include writers D. H. Lawrence and Willa Cather, painters John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe, photographers Paul Strand and Ansel Adams as well as choreographer and dancer Martha Graham, composer Leopold Stokowski, and social reformer John Collier. Mabel’s role as arts patron and social advocate runs parallel. The show also offers “a glimpse at the uproarious, complicated life of a woman whose goal was to revolt against the old-fashioned, Victorian environment in which she was raised.”

Thirty years in the making, the exhibition was co-curated by MaLin Wilson-Powell, an independent art critic, lecturer, curator, editor, and educator; and Dr. Lois Rudnick, the author and preeminent scholar on Mabel Dodge Luhan, with eight books published on Luhan and her circle. The exhibition premiered at the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico in Taos (May-September 2016), then traveled to the Albuquerque Museum (October 2016-January 2017).