The remarkable women of Taos. Many have been noticed, but few noted down for posterity. That is about to change, and salon-hostess Mabel Dodge Luhan appears to be the responsible party, whispering into listening ears.
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.
This weekend’s events include a poetry and music concert with six Taoseñas, a dedication ceremony honoring Taos Pueblo potter Virgina T. Romero, art exhibits that highlight historically important women artists of Taos, and a salon-style discussion on the evolution of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house.
The weekend events also mark the 90th anniversary of the construction of Luhan’s house which was the location of lively salons during her lifetime, and has served as a venue for creative gatherings since then.
“Las Taoseñas: A Conversation in Music and Words”
When: Friday, February 24, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Mabel Dodge Luhan house
Admission: $15, students $8; $12 in advance at Taos Herb Co.; Seating limited
Information: (575) 770-8596
“Las Taoseñas: A Conversation in Music and Words” will be held Friday, February 24th, 7-9 p.m. at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House’s classroom. The evening weaves poetry and music from six women, encompassing five decades of life experience. The Becky Reardon Trio (Becky Reardon, Julie Hawley and Joanie Summerhays) will thread their songs, guitar, harp, flutes and percussion through the poetic expressions of Hannah Rappaport, Lyla Johnston and Raven Tompkins. Seating is limited. Advance tickets available at Taos Herb for $12. Tickets at the door are $15, and student tickets are $8. For information, call (575) 770-8596.
The evening is a collaboration that promises to span the full range of human emotions, from the contemplative to the light-hearted. The Becky Reardon Trio is known for its soothing melodies and gorgeous harmonies and lyrics that touch with wonder and generosity on the endearing and enduring qualities of our relationships with life.
Among the poems Hannah Rappaport will read are “The Sacred Spiral.” Rappaport writes that her entry into poetry occurred more than twenty years ago when “in the midst of a mystical Hermetic initiation, formal in structure, under the auspices of a Gnostic Bishop,” she found her life was “blown apart and put back together in a new way.” She is currently writing a memoir about these experiences. Rappaport was born in Israel, raised in California, and moved to Taos in 2005. She has been involved with SOMOS since that time, first as an Assistant to the Director and now as a grantwriter.
Lyla Johnston is a young poet known for including her indigenous perspectives in her work. She draws upon the energy of spoken word performance when delivering her poems to an audience. Johnston holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in Anthropology.
Raven Tompkins has written poetry in grade school, and writes that she “loves the power poetry has to illuminate shadows, language emotion and give experience beyond words a voice.” Tompkins works as a shamanic healer for Pryanta Healing and is a visual artist.
Julie Hawley, of the Becky Reardon Trio said that the trio has chosen pieces that correspond, or respond, to the poems being read. “We’re having a conversation with the poets.” She said the songs also highlight the poetry of Reardon’s lyrics.
Virginia T. Romero Dedication
When: Saturday, February 25th, 11 a.m.
Where: Taos Ski Valley Road (NM Hwy 150) just east of Bareiss Gallery
Information: (575) 776-7211
At 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, February 25th, Taos Pueblo, the State of New Mexico, the Town of Taos and the Family of Virginia T. Romero host a roadside dedication of the Virginia T. Romero New Mexico State Women’s Historic Marker celebrating the life of Taos Pueblo potter Virginia T. Romero (1896-1998). The dedication location is Taos Ski Valley Road (NM Hwy 150) just east of Bareiss Gallery. Speakers and honored guests include Taos Pueblo Governor Laureano Romero and War Chief Benito Sandoval, New Mexico Secretary of Historic Preservation Veronica Gonzales, Beverly Duran and members of the New Mexico Women’s Forum, Town Mayor Darren Cordova, and members of the Virginia T. Romero family.
Most Taosenos are unaware that three historic markers honoring New Mexico women have been placed in Taos. This dedication brings the women they honor to public attention as part of the Remarkable Women of Taos year-long celebration. The marker dedicated to Romero reads:
“Virginia T Romero, world famous potter and mother of 10 children, began her lifelong career in 1919. She supported her family by selling a variety of pots to locals and tourists for use in cooking, storing water, and as decorative art. She helped keep the micaceous pottery tradition alive in Taos Pueblo. Traditionally fired outdoors, these pots are dotted with flecks of mica, a shiny silicate mineral.”
Romero, is one of the women profiled by Elizabeth (Liz) Cunningham as part of the “Remarkable Women of Taos.” Her essay is posted on the “Remarkable Women of Taos” section of www.taos.org. An excerpt reads: “For all the acclaim from the outside world, Virginia continued the traditional ritual life at Taos Pueblo. Like her ancestors, she instructed her children in the lifeways of her tribe. She also taught pottery techniques to young children at the Oo-ooh-nah Children’s Art Center. Virginia supported her husband when tribal officials elected him Governor of Taos Pueblo in 1976. She participated in women’s dances held in the spring and at Christmas time. The backbone of Taos Pueblo, Virginia and other women homemakers cooked for and participated in feast days like the annual San Geronimo Day on September 30th and the Christmas Eve and other winter celebrations.”
The Millicent Rogers Museum has a collection of Romero’s pottery on permanent display.
The New Mexico Historic Women Marker Initiative was launched to honor historical women who have made significant contributions to the state. A press statement on the initiative reads, “The initiative assures that women’s diverse histories will be remembered and told, and will inspire and provide a guide for future generations.” This Initiative, funded by Governor Bill Richardson and the 47th Legislative Session, is administered by the Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Transportation. The Initiative was funded by members of the New Mexico Women’s Forum, which oversees the project.
The two other Taos roadside historic markers honor Captive Women and Maria Rosa Vialpando and “The Three Fates”: Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frieda Lawrence and the Honorable Dorothy Brett.
Women Artist Exhibitions
When: Saturday, February 25th
Where: Millicent Rogers Museum, (575) 758-2462; E. L. Blumenschein home, (575) 758-0505; Harwood Museum of Art, (575) 758-9826
Women Artist Exhibitions located in three Taos museums will be exhibited beginning on Saturday, February 25th. The Millicent Rogers Museum presents two special exhibits: “The Power to Create, Collect, and Inspire” and “Martinez: Matriarch of San Ildefonso.” At the E. L. Blumenschein Home, “Out of the Background - The Women Artists of Early Taos,” features work by Margaret Brandenburg Baerreis, Helen Greene Blumenschein, Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein, Dorothy Schmalhorst Benrimo, Edith Evelyn Higgins Cheetham, Lucille Blazo Wrenn Couse Virginia Walker Couse, Elizabeth Case Harwood, Rebecca Salsbury James, Dora Kaminsky, Barbara Latham, Helen Campbell Martin, Ila McAfee, and Mary Monrad Frederiksen Ufer. The Harwood Museum of Art presents “Agnes Martin: Before the Grid” and “Agnes Martin: Works on Paper.” The exhibits feature Martin’s rarely seen biomorphic work from 1954 to 1959, as well as transitional works tracing the artist’s shift from biomorphic shapes to linear grids. Also displayed is “Michelle Cooke: Poem,” a glass installation by a contemporary Taos artist. Please call the respective museums for ticket and exhibit information.
Three Generations of Utopian Visions
When: Saturday, February 25th, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Where: Mabel Dodge Luhan house
Information: (575) 751-9686
“Who’s Been Sleeping at Mabel’s? Three Generations of Utopian Visions at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House” is a salon-style event moderated by Lois Rudnick, biographer of Mabel Dodge Luhan to reflet on the evolution of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house. Rudnick will speak about Luhan’s visions, Charlotte Hopper will be represented for the Hopper era, and Zoe Otero will speak about the Otero era. Afterwards Rena Rosequist and John Nichols reflect on the questions: “Is there a legacy? And if so, what is the impact of Taos today?” The evening concludes with Rudnick inviting discussion and questions from the evening’s audience members.
NOMINATE A REMARKABLE WOMAN
For more information on the Remarkable Women of Taos project, visit www.taos.org or Liz Cunningham’s blog, www.mabeldodgeluhan.blogspot.com. If you know of a historical or contemporary Taos woman who deserves recognition, visit “Nominate A Woman” at taos.org/mywoman for complete instructions. The deadline for submission is March 15, 2012.