The com­pany she kept

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Ma­bel Dodge Luhan and Com­pany: Amer­i­can Moderns and the West at the Har­wood Mu­seum of Art in Taos

Gertrude and Leo Stein

“The days are won­der­ful and the nights are won­der­ful,” be­gins Gertrude Stein’s 1911 book Por­trait of Ma­bel Dodge at the Villa Curo­nia, the only non­vi­sual work avail­able at the ground­break­ing 1913 Ar­mory Show in New York, af­ter Stein dis­trib­uted 300 copies at the event. Luhan had met Gertrude and Leo Stein for the first time two years be­fore, dur­ing one of their Satur­day night “at homes” at 27 rue de Fleu­rus, and Luhan’s sa­lons were of­ten com­pared to those of the Steins’ in Paris, as many guests flowed back and forth be­tween the two. Gertrude Stein and Luhan formed a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion so­ci­ety: As a re­sponse to Stein’s Por­trait of Ma­bel Dodge, Luhan pub­lished the first ma­jor ar­ti­cle on Stein’s writ­ing, “Spec­u­la­tions, or PostIm­pres­sion­ism in Prose,” in 1913, declar­ing, “Gertrude Stein is do­ing with words what Pi­casso is do­ing with paint.” Luhan di­verged from Stein’s sa­lon­niére style, mak­ing her or­ches­trated gath­er­ings a life­long pur­suit in Florence, New York, and Taos (Stein stopped her reg­u­lar sa­lons be­fore World War I be­gan), and in­cor­po­rat­ing a more eclec­tic range of guests than Stein’s mod­ern-art cir­cles. — Molly Boyle

Re­becca Sals­bury Strand James

Re­becca Sals­bury Strand James might have had an amorous re­la­tion­ship with Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe, or the two might have just been good friends, but it’s be­cause of her comely pal “Beck” that O’Ke­effe first came to New Mex­ico to stay with Ma­bel Dodge Luhan. Beck was mar­ried to Paul Strand, pro­tégé of Al­fred Stieglitz, when they first vis­ited Luhan in 1926. She and O’Ke­effe came to Taos in 1929 to get away from their men for the sum­mer and paint in peace, though Beck was busier help­ing Luhan when she was sick than paint­ing in those years. She later found her true artis­tic medium in de­vel­op­ing and per­fect­ing a tech­nique that height­ened the lu­mi­nos­ity of oil paint as seen through glass. Beck di­vorced Strand in Mex­ico in 1933, and then came back to Taos, mar­ried Wil­liam James, and stayed for the rest of her life. — Jen­nifer Levin

Miguel Co­var­ru­bias

Mex­i­can artist and au­thor Miguel Co­var­ru­bias and his soon-to-be wife, dancer and chore­og­ra­pher Rosa Rolando, vis­ited Ma­bel Dodge Luhan in Taos in 1929. A hu­mor­ous draw­ing made dur­ing his visit shows a tourist at Taos Pue­blo, wear­ing a squash-blos­som neck­lace and a con­cha belt, with a Navajo blan­ket furled be­neath her arm, prov­ing that some re­gional fash­ion trends have a long shelf life. In Taos, Co­var­ru­bias met Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe, mak­ing her the sub­ject of one of his car­i­ca­tures. He de­picted her as “Our Lady of the Lily,” her head bal­anced at the top of the elon­gated stalk of her neck, mir­ror­ing the long-stemmed flower she held in her hand, her de­meanor seem­ingly dour. The draw­ing ap­peared that year in The New Yorker. In June of 1929, pho­tog­ra­pher Al­fred Stieglitz wrote to O’Ke­effe from his home in Lake Ge­orge: “The New

Yorker has sent me back the three small prints of you I let them have. Co­var­ru­bias has made a draw­ing of you. The ar­ti­cle is to ap­pear July 6. — I fear to see it.” — Michael Abatemarco

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