Thursday, February 28, 2013

Admiring: Midwife of Art, Ideas, and Healing

photograph by Carl van Vechten
April 12, 1934
via Yale Library

Mabel Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan was an influential salon hostess throughout her life, in Italy (where she hosted Gertrude Stein and Carl van Vechten, among others), then in New York (where she again hosted salons and also helped organize a post impressionist art exhibit). But she is perhaps is best known for hosting many great thinkers of her day at her home in Taos, New Mexico. Georgia O'Keefe, Carl Jung, Willa Cather, and D. H. Lawrence were among the visitors that Mabel invited to stay with her.

When her third husband moved to New Mexico, she soon followed, and when she arrived she was thoroughly moved by the landscape and the people who lived there. She saw the value in the pueblos' rituals and art, their connections to the earth and to each other. 

She was also interested in psychoanalysis and its ability to help people rediscover these connections, and she would invite guests that she believed could help her spread this "gospel" of reconnection to the rest of the world. Apparently her strong beliefs and goals also could make her manipulative and domineering. There are no perfect heros! But I admire her whole-hearted determination to bring healing to the world.

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