Mabel Dodge Luhan

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Mabel Dodge Luhan
Mabel Dodge Luhan - Van Vechten.jpg
Portrait of Mabel Dodge Luhan by Carl Van Vechten, 1934.
Born Mabel Ganson
(1879-02-26)February 26, 1879
Died August 13, 1962(1962-08-13) (aged 83)
Taos, New Mexico, Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Occupation Patron of the arts; nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst organization
Organization Taos art colony, Armory Show
Spouse(s) Karl Evans, Edwin Dodge, Maurice Sterne, Tony Luhan

Mabel Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan (pronounced LOO-hahn), née Ganson (February 26, 1879 – August 13, 1962) was a wealthy American patron of the arts, who was particularly associated with the Taos art colony.

Early life[edit]

Mabel Ganson was the heiress of Charles Ganson, a wealthy banker from Buffalo, New York and his wife, Sarah Cook. Raised to charm and groomed to marry, she grew up among Buffalo’s social elite, raised in the company of her nursemaid. She attended Saint Margaret’s Episcopal School for girls until the age of sixteen, then went school in New York City. In 1896 she toured Europe and attended the 'Chevy Chase' finishing school in Washington, D.C.

Her first marriage, in 1900 at the age of 21, was to Karl Evans, the son of a steamship owner. They were married in secret since Charles Ganson did not approve of Evans, and were later re-married in Trinity church before Buffalo society. They had one son, but Karl died in a hunting accident two-and-a-half years later, leaving her a widow at 23.[1] In the spring of 1904, an oval portrait of her in mourning dress was painted by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury for her paternal grandmother Nancy Ganson of Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. Her family sent her to Paris after she began an affair with a prominent Buffalo gynecologist. In November 1904 she married Edwin Dodge, a wealthy architect.

She was also actively bisexual in her early life and frankly detailed her physical encounters with women in her autobiography Intimate Memories (1933).[2][3]

Florence[edit]

Between 1905 and 1912 the Dodges lived near Florence at her palatial Medici villa, the Villa Curonia in Arcetri where she entertained local artists, in addition to Gertrude Stein, her brother Leo, Alice B. Toklas, and other visitors from Paris, including André Gide. A troubled liaison with her chauffeur led to two suicide attempts: the first by eating figs containing shards of glass; the second with laudanum.[1]

New York and Provincetown[edit]

In mid-1912, the Dodges (by this time increasingly estranged), returned to America where Dodge set herself up as a patron of the arts, holding a weekly salon in her new apartment at 23 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village. Often in attendance were such luminaries as Carl Van Vechten, Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, Charles Demuth, "Big Bill" Haywood, Max Eastman, Lincoln Steffens, Hutchins Hapgood, Neith Boyce, Walter Lippmann, and John Reed. Van Vechten took Dodge as the model for the character "Edith Dale" in his novel Peter Whiffle. Anthropologist Raymond Harrington introduced Dodge and her friends to peyote in an impromptu "ceremony" there.[4]

She was involved in mounting the Armory Show of new European Modern Art in 1913 publishing and distributing in pamphlet-form a piece by Gertrude Stein entitled "Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia", which increased her public profile.

She sailed to Europe at the end of June 1913, John Reed (Jack)—worn out from having recently organized the Paterson Pageant—traveling with her. They became lovers after arriving in Paris where they socialized with Stein and Pablo Picasso before leaving for the Villa Curonia, where the guests included Arthur Rubinstein. At first this was a very happy time for the couple, but tensions grew between them as Reed became uncomfortable with the affluent isolation, and Dodge saw his interests in the world of people and achievements as a rejection of her.[5] They returned to New York in late September 1913. In October Reed was sent to report on the Mexican Revolution by Metropolitan Magazine.[6] Although Dodge followed him to the border town of Presidio, she left after just a few days.

Between 1914 to 1916 a strong connection developed between the intelligentsia of Greenwich Village and Provincetown and, in 1915, Dodge arrived there with painter Maurice Sterne. While in Provincetown, John Reed helped to organize The Provincetown Players, and Dodge experienced a rivalry with Mary Heaton Vorse.[7]

In 1916 Dodge became a nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst organization.,[1] relocating to Finney Farm, a large Croton estate.[5] Sterne, who was to become Dodge's third husband, lived in a cottage behind the main house, while Dodge offered Reed the third floor of the house as a writing studio. Although he moved in for a short period, the situation became untenable; Dodge and Sterne married later that year.

Santa Barbara[edit]

During this period Dodge also began spending long periods of time in Santa Barbara, California, where her friend Lincoln Steffens had relatives (Lincoln Steffens' sister Lottie was married to local rancher John J. Hollister).[8]

Taos[edit]

In 1919 Dodge, her husband, and Elsie Clews Parsons moved to Taos, New Mexico,[9] where she began a literary colony. On the advice of Tony Luhan, a Native American whom she would marry in 1923, she purchased a 12-acre (49,000 m2) property. Luhan set up a teepee in front of her house, drumming each night in an attempt to lure her to him. Although Sterne bought a shotgun with the intention of chasing Luhan off the property, unable to use it, he instead took to insulting Dodge. In response, she sent him away, although she supported him financially until the time of their divorce four years later.[1]

D. H. Lawrence, the English author, accepted an invitation from her to stay in Taos, arriviing with his wife Frieda in early September 1922. He had a fraught relationship with his hostess, however, later writing about it in his fiction. Dodge later published a memoir about the visit entitled, Lorenzo in Taos (1932).

In New Mexico Dodge and Luhan hosted a number of influential artists and poets including Marsden Hartley, Arnold Ronnebeck, Louise Emerson Ronnebeck, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Robinson Jeffers and his wife Una,[10] Florence McClung, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mary Hunter Austin, Frank Waters, Jaime de Angulo, Aldous Huxley, Ernie O'Malley and others.[11]

Dodge died at her home in Taos in 1962 and was buried in Kit Carson Cemetery. The Mabel Dodge Luhan House has been designated a National Historic Landmark, operating as an historic inn and conference center. Natalie Goldberg frequently teaches at Mabel Dodge Luhan House, which Dennis Hopper bought after having noticed it while filming Easy Rider.

Archives[edit]

The Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers Collection—a collection of letters, manuscripts, photographs and personal papers documenting Dodge's life and works—is housed at the Beinecke Library at Yale University. A portion of the collection is available online.[12]

Bibliography[edit]

Luhan's 1935 book Winter in Taos is listed among the 100 Best Books In New Mexico (Jan 2011).[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Byrne, Janet (1995), A Genius for Living: A biography of Frieda Lawrence, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-1284-1 
  2. ^ Imhof, Robin (2002), "Salons", glbtq.com, retrieved 2008-01-17 
  3. ^ Faderman, Lillian, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, Penguin Books Ltd, 1991, page 83. ISBN 0-231-07488-3
  4. ^ Luhan, Mabel Dodge (1936) Movers and Shakers. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  5. ^ a b Rosenstone, Robert A. (1990), Romantic Revolutionary: A biography of John Reed, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-77938-X 
  6. ^ Milholland, David (2000). "John Reed in Mexico and Latin America". Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ Manso, Peter (2002), Ptown, Simon & Schuster 
  8. ^ Creese, Mary R. S; Creese, Thomas M (May 2004). "Ladies in the laboratory 2". ISBN 978-0-8108-4979-2. 
  9. ^ Stansell, Christine (2000), American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co, ISBN 0-8050-4847-2 
  10. ^ Mabel Dodge Luhan Una and Robin Berkeley, CA: Bancroft Library, 1976
  11. ^ Lois Palken Rudnick. Utopian Vistas: The Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the American Counterculture.Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.
  12. ^ Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Retrieved on 2009-07-08
  13. ^ New Mexico Book Coop. "100 Best Books in New Mexico", January 6, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rudnick, Lois Palken and Wilson-Powell, MaLin, editors (2016): Mabel Dodge Luhan and Company: American Moderns and the West: Museum of New Mexico Press/Published in association with the Harwood Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0890136140
  • Rudnick, Lois Palken (1987): Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-0995-2
  • Rudnick, Lois Palken (1996). Utopian vistas : the Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the American counterculture Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

External links[edit]