Sunday, July 10, 2016

Taos, "A Living Symbol." Of What? Notes from NM Quarterly

The notes that follow were taken by Harold Morgan, copying from the summer 1951 issue of New Mexico Quarterly. At the Harwood Gallery (The Gallery is in Taos. The exhibit runs May 22 to September 11.) exhibit about Mabel Dodge Luhan, a page from the Quarterly was open. For some reason a phrase stood out—“a living symbol.” The obvious question was, “of what?”
The staff at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico’s Zimmerman Library was very helpful in pulling the issue from their basement, which is their procedure. The actual issue does not leave the Center. The alleged communications staffer at Harwood was no help.
The copy on the page proved to be an editor’s note from George Arms, who said,
“In this issue the Quarterly is happy to present a section on Taos by writers of Taos. For the world Taos has become a living symbol, and it is rewarding to have this symbol explored in these pages.”
The contributors were Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frieda Lawrence (widow of D.H. Lawrence and still living in Taos in 1951), Alexandra Fechin (wife of Nicolai, Russian artist, whose home is now the Taos Art Museum), Frank Waters (novelist), Andrew Dasburg (painter), Kenneth Adams (painter), Spud Johnson, Laura Gilpin (photographer), Carl Van Vechten (photographer), John Candelario (photographer) and Henry Prior Clark.
Luhan, the first of the contributors, wrote, “People used to come to Taos almost as though they had to.
“Taos brings out the particularity in people. This is the most interesting place in the world, I think.
“There is no standardization here, no social structure. (HM Note: Check with Taos Pueblo on this point.)
“Taos does things to people.
“…mysterious enlightenment of our Taos ambiente” (atmosphere or environment).

The Alexandra Fechin article was, “European Aspects of Cosmopolitan Taos.”

Other visitors to Luhan in Taos included Thornton Wilder (playwright and novelist), Willa Cather (novelist, “Death Comes for the Archibishop”), Leopold Stokowski and Georgia O’Keefe.

The Taos Society of Artists, a sort of a trade group, was founded in 1915. Wikipedia calls it a commercial cooperative. Luhan came to Taos in 1918.

No comments: