One event grew out of a historic woman profile I was commissioned to write. If you've been following this blog, a historic scenic marker paying tribute to Mabel, Frieda Lawrence and Dorothy Brett provided the context for my first posting. The search for this marker led me to another one that featured Taos Pueblo potter Virginia T. Romero. To find out more about her life, this past winter I met with her children and their families to interview them. As none of these women's scenic markers had ever been dedicated (there is a 3rd one in Taos), we decided to bring them to public attention with a roadside dedication.
From attending the 2010 ribbon-cutting for the Peggy Pond Church/Marjorie Bell Chambers marker in Los Alamos, I learned about the New Mexico Women's Historic Marker Initiative and met some of its co-founders and members. Established in 2005 by members of the New Mexico Women's Forum, the initiative recognizes women's contributions to New Mexico on the state's Official Scenic Historic Markers. To date, the initiative (funded by the 2006 state legislature) has placed 64 historic markers throughout the state to ensure that "women's diverse histories will be remembered and told, and will inspire and provide a guide for future generations."
After settling on the date of February 25th with the Romero family, Mabel Dodge Luhan House staffer Karen Young and I helped with preparations for the roadside dedication of the Virginia T. Romero marker. As it turned out the date fell on the same day as the 90th anniversary celebration, "Who's Been Sleeping at Mabel's? Three Generations of Utopian Visions at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House." The timing coincided with exhibitions on women artists at three Taos museums that had opened weeks prior. And to top it off, on Friday, February 24th, to honor of the Remarkable Women of Taos and the 90th anniversary of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Las Taoseñas--"daughters, grandmothers, mothers and crones encompassing five decades of life"--hosted an evening of poetry and music that provided the entree into Saturday's full roster of events. We had the makings of the Inaugural Remarkable Women of Taos Immersion weekend, to officially launch the project--and it became the cover story in the Taos News' Tempo Magazine.
Virginia T. Romero Photo © Stephen Trimble*
Here's what happened as writer Ariana Kramer told it:
The remarkable women of Taos. Many have been noticed, but few have been noted down for posterity. That is about to change, and salon-hostess Mabel Dodge Luhan appears to be the responsible party.It all started when the women who currently run the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, now a retreat center, asked writer Elizabeth Cunningham to start a blog featuring Luhan and other "Remarkable Women of Taos."The project soon spiraled outward and the Town of Taos picked up the idea for its 2012 tourism theme. This weekend kicks off a year of activities celebrating the many women who have contributed to Taos' past and present. The effort aims to provide further insight into the contributions and qualities of those often remarked upon women like Luhan and her cohorts. It also hopes to share their limelight with the many influential Taoseñas who have pursued their passions unnoticed and unremarked upon.**
Nobody taught me how to make pottery. My mother made pots. I used to cook and do housework, but I saw her make them. I never thought I would touch the clay. Then one day my husband and my father went for clay. My father gave me a bag of clay and told me, “Daughter this will give you all you need—food, clothing and money.” And, you know, he was right. – Virginia T. Romero, 1989
|Taos Pueblo Drum Group Photo © Rick Romancito ***|
|Robin Collier recording comments of Clyde Romero Sr.|
|Examples of Virginia T. Romero's pottery|
|Virginia T. Romero's children and members of the NM Women's Forum****|
|L-R: Celestino, Jimmy, Paul, Tony, Catherine and Clyde Sr.|
*** Caption reads: "Little Kiana Bozzuto attends the roadside marker dedication honoring Taos Pueblo micaceous pottery-maker Virginia T. Romero, Saturday (Feb. 25) Photo courtesy of Rick Romancito, appeared in Tempo/The Taos News' March 1-7, 2012 edition: 38.
****Left to right: Jimmy Romero, Paul Romero, Rhonda Faught, Barbara Beasley Murphy, Bev Duran, Paula Tackett, Catherine Romero, Nancy Bartlit, Betty Downes. Present but not pictured New Mexico Women's Forum member Karen Durkovich.