|Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879-1962)|
During this period Mabel began her “career” as a salon hostess, bringing to her home some of Europe’s most famous poets, musicians, and actresses. One of her most difficult impediments—and, ironically, a powerful enabler of her creativity--was her manic-depression. She suffered severe depressions, often marked by suicide attempts. But during her manic phases she came up with some of her most creative ideas; for example, her dream of re-creating the Renaissance. In Florence, she began her first of what would become several utopian worlds where she hoped to find and create a world in which she could be “at home.”
After World War I broke out, she moved “back to nature” in Croton-on-Hudson, where she met and married her third husband, Maurice Sterne, a postimpressionist painter. They married in August 1917, and Mabel sent him to Santa Fe for “their” honeymoon. He wrote her in November the letter that would transform the rest of her life: asking her to come to New Mexico and “save” the Indians and make their art and culture her life’s work. Mabel arrived in December, left almost immediately for Taos, rented apartments there, fell in love with a Taos Pueblo Indian, whom she took as a lover and married in 1923.
Notorious for being manipulative, bossy, and for intervening in her friends lives, Mabel was also a generous philanthropist (she donated the building that became the town’s first hospital), and a supportive friend to many. She created an environment that enabled her work as a cultural catalyst, celebrator of, and writer about the beauties of the northern New Mexico landscape and Pueblo arts and culture. There is no doubt she romanticized the Indians, but she also respected them for values of which they themselves are proud as being vital to their culture.
|Mabel and Tony*|
I hope you, Dear Readers, have enjoyed this overview. For me it shows Mabel's humanity, her frailties and triumphs--and just how complex we humans are as embodied in this remarkable woman's life.