Weeks ago I heard that the New Mexico State Highway Department had called the Mabel Dodge Luhan House to ask where the staff wanted their highway sign placed. “What sign? We didn’t order a sign…. No, we don’t want a highway sign in our driveway.”
Then staffer Karen Young noticed a new highway sign on Route 64, placed near the “Places of Interest” marker, just a mile north of the crossroads leading to the Rio Grande Gorge to the west and to the Taos Ski Valley to the east. It read: “THE THREE FATES.”
Three extraordinary women contributed to the unique artistic culture of Taos in the 20th Century. Sometimes called “The Three Fates”, they had a long, passionate and often contentious relationship with each other. Mabel Dodge Luhan created a haven for artists, writers and musicians at her Taos home, including D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. They arrived in Taos in 1924 with their friend, Dorothy Brett.
- “What is it about Taos that has proven, over the last 80 years, to provide such a supportive and encouraging environment for strong, independent-minded women, and has encouraged them to successfully pursue their careers, their lives, and their professional and artistic interests.?”
When I stumbled into Taos for the first time, September 30, 1973, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A few months earlier I’d packed my small family into a Volkswagen van, crossed the Hudson and headed west in search of a new life. …I quickly became enamored with the town and its history, and one of my first and strongest impressions was that the place was filled with strong, independent women. In those years, 4 of the 5 best galleries in town were owned by women – Maggie Kress and Tally Richards, Mary Sanchez and Rena Rosequist. The co-founder of the Lama Foundation was Asha Breeson, a woman of great physical and spiritual authority. Billy Blair was the fearless editor of the Taos News. All the elected officials in the town and the county were male, but arguably the most influential political figure in town was Sally Howell – she gave me my first job in town as her gardener. Then I tended bar for a few years at the old La Cocina on the plaza, a raucous joint on a Saturday night but nobody messed with Ruth Moya, the sweet but steely strong cocktail waitress who could stop a drunken brawl without raising her voice.
- Why Taos?
- What attracted so many strong women?
- Looking at the lives of remarkable women like Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frieda Lawrence and Dorothy Brett, what brought them here? What caused them to stay?
- What is it about Taos that invites women who come here to become remarkable women?
In the meantime, as I eagerly await that group’s responses, I invite you to answer these questions, too.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Liz Cunningham, blog host
What’s next: Profiling women of Taos; The First of the Three Fates: Mabel Dodge Luhan