Mabel Dodge Luhan and her artist friends are focus of Harwood Museum exhibit
By Yvonne Pesquera
On Sunday, May 22, “Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West” opens at the Harwood Museum in Taos. The press announcement states that the exhibit features 160 works of art. Some of that art came from the Harwood collection and from 40 lenders, including the venerable MoMA, Art Institute of Chicago and the Denver Art Museum, as well as private collectors.
Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879-1962) had a profound impact on art and literature. A preview of the exhibit reveals an astonishing “who’s who” of modern artists. Paintings include the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, Victor Higgins, Dorothy Brett and Emil Bisttram, just to name a few.
“One of the interesting things about Mabel, and why this is such a relevant story for New Mexico, is that this exhibit tells the story of art history in Taos, as well as Southwest modernism,” says Juniper Manley, director of development at the Harwood Museum.
This enchanting exhibit is co-curated by arts curator MaLin Wilson-Powell and scholar Dr. Lois Rudnick.
Luhan was well known for her social affairs in Buffalo, New York; Florence, Italy; and New York City. She had a remarkable ability to meet and court influential people. But it’s her activities in Taos, comprising the second half of her life, that have attracted the most attention. Here she married Tony Luhan, a Taos Pueblo Indian, and persuaded several writers and artists to visit her, helping to establish the basis for a lively community of artists, according to a biography by Jane Nelson.
Luhan wrote her own art book in 1947, “Taos and Its Artists,” which contains 56 black-and-white reproductions of paintings by Taos artists –– many of whom are represented in this “American Moderns and the West” exhibit.
She includes an oft-quoted famous passage of the Bhagavad-Gita in the beginning of her book: “Work is holy when the heart of the worker is fixed on the Highest.” Talk about inspiration. Luhan was filled with it –– and judging by the works presented in the Harwood exhibit, Southwest art lovers will find highly inspired pieces.
“Turtle Dance, ” by Dorothy Brett
Luhan herself writes about Taos and the Southwest: “There is no decadent artistic expression in this place. The land itself is healthy and good, the genius loci is good and the artists have painted it so.”
Plan your visit
May 22 – Sept. 11
Harwood Museum of Art
238 Ledoux Street
“This exhibit tells the story of art history in Taos, as well as Southwest Modernism.”