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Examining the Life of Mabel Dodge Luhan at the C. G. Jung Center

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Go West, Young Woman

On Wednesday, October 9 at 7pm, the C. G. Jung Center will host an evening with Mary Beth Parrinello and Kate Soudant as they present a look at Mabel Dodge Luhan’s journey from Buffalo to Taos through autobiographical readings that illuminate her engagement with artists, writers, and thinkers of the last century.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s sun-drenched landscape paintings stirred my curiosity for the Southwest. She called Taos, New Mexico “the faraway” during her many summer excursions from New York. I’ve seen photographs of O’Keeffe painting canvases propped up against the back of her Model A Ford vehicle. These images capture the romance of the early 20th-century bohemian American art scene that took root in the desert when modernism was young. An evolving art community continues to thrive years beyond the arrival of the Buffalo native who started it all.

Born here in 1879, Mabel Ganson grew up to be well-educated heiress who left town on a remarkable adventure. She established herself as a traveler, writer, socialite, and art patron—symbolized the new woman at a time when most were still restricted by socioeconomic conventions. A known bisexual and advocate of women’s rights, Mabel married and divorced numerous times—Dodge and Luhan were the names of her second and last husbands. She eventually ventured into the West and settled in Taos to create a place for artists and writers to work and collaborate in the wildness of the Native American pueblo. Many famous guests visited her residence, including D. H. Lawrence, Marsden Hartley, Ansel Adams, Martha Graham, Carl Jung, and Georgia O’Keeffe. After a first visit in 1929, O’Keeffe was smitten and returned many times before finally settling in the area permanently upon the death of husband, Alfred Stieglitz, in 1946.

Mabel Dodge Luhan died in 1962, but her guesthouse remains through various owners. Her legacy is imbedded in the history and lore of the magical place. Actor Dennis Hopper bought it after spending time there while on location for the 1969 film, Easy Rider. The adobe bed-and-breakfast lodge is a worthwhile destination for anyone seeking a piece of “supportive solitude for creative reflection.” It is also a retreat center for workshops with notable artists, such as local resident and well-known author, Natalie Goldberg. I have had the pleasure of staying in the Georgia O’Keeffe Room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. I walked the land and painted on the stone patio—imagined scenarios, passions, and tequila-infused evening salons. Mabel (played by Tyne Daly) appeared briefly in the 2009 biopic, Georgia O’Keeffe, a fun art movie to add to your watch list. I look forward to attending this event at the C. G. Jung Center on October 9 to find out more about this pioneering woman who was truly ahead of her time.

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