Mable Dodge Luhan

Mable Dodge Luhan

American patron of the arts

Mabel Ganson was born in Buffalo on 26th February, 1879. She obtained the name Dodge when she married a wealthy businessman from New England.

Dodge moved to New York and her home at 23 Fifth Avenue became a place where left-wing intellectuals and activists met. This included John Reed, Louise Bryant, Lincoln Steffens, Max Eastman, Walter Lippmann, Margaret Sanger, Bill Haywood and Emma Goldman.

She was a woman of profound contradictions. She was generous. She was petty. Domineering and endearing. Mabel Gansen Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan – salon hostess, art patroness, writer and self-appointed savior of humanity.

While living in Europe, Mabel met the writer Gertrude Stein in Paris. Gertrude was quite taken with Mabel and visited her in Florence often, eventually writing Portrait of Mabel Dodge. But Gertrude’s jealous lover Alice B. Toklas managed to put an end to the mutual attraction of the two women.

A pacifist, Dodge contributed articles to the radical journal, The Masses, during the First World War. After the war Dodge married Tony Lujan, a Native American, and established an artist colony in Taos, New Mexico. In 1922 D. H. Lawrence stayed at Taos where he wrote The Plumed Serpent (1926). The main character in his short-story, The Woman Who Rode Away, was based on Dodge.

Like many other modern writers and artists, Toomer was invited to Taos, New Mexico for the first time by art patron, socialite, and memoirist Mabel Dodge Luhan, who encouraged Toomer to consider the town for a Gurdjieffian center for spiritual development. Although his work on behalf of Gurdjieff brought him to Taos, Toomer continued to visit New Mexico long after he severed ties with his mentor, believing, perhaps, that New Mexico could provide fulfillment that Gurdjieff could not. When Toomer arrived in the Southwest it was already a landscape crowded with artists and writers.

Dodge wrote several volumes of autobiography including Intimate Memories (1933), European Experiences (1936) and Edge of Taos Desert (1937). Mabel Dodge Lujan died in Taos, New Mexico, on 13th August, 1962.