The year of the women

Mabel Dodge Lujan

Photo taken from

Originally published in Taos News, Special Sections

2012 is the centennial year ofNew Mexico’s statehood. It is also the year of the Remarkable Women of Taos. For that reason March, which is Women’s History Month, will be celebrated here in a spectacular manner.

“The idea of Remarkable Women of Taos as a theme for the year came because of two very prominent artists, Agnes Martin and Beatrice Mandelman, who made Taos their home and whose centennial birthday parties are celebrated this year,” said Susan Longhenry, director of the Harwood  Museum of Art. “So the Town of Taos, as an organization, got the idea of celebrating these women and their contributions to the town’s history. Later on, it was decided to expand the celebration and include other notable women who have shaped, and are shaping, our community.”

On the same line Cathy Ann Connelly, director of Public Affairs and Tourism for the Town ofTaos, said, “This year, in conjunction with the state’s centennial, we are celebrating our remarkable women and underscoring why they were drawn to Taos’ unique and wonderful attributes.”

And the project was born.

The women online

The website has devoted a whole section to the celebration of these women’s lives and accomplishments.  The ‘Legends’ are those who changed or enhanced the community of Taos in the past, like Mabel Dodge Lujan, Agnes Martin, Bea Mandelman, Georgia O’Keeffe, Millicent Rogers and many others.

“Since the town is recognizing remarkable women who are among us today, there are also profiles of artists, businesswomen and women who are currently working in health and education and preserving our great outdoors,” said Longhenry. Painter and author Amy Cordova, santera Lydia Garcia and Native American fashion designer Patricia Michaels are among them. “We want to recognize them all, both historic and contemporary,” said Longhenry.

Santera Lydia Garcia

Liz Cunningham is the hostess of a blog called “Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Remarkable Women of Taos.” In October 2010 a question occurred to her as a result of the blog: ‘What if the Remarkable Women of Taos was the 2012 Town of Taos theme?’

As Cunningham related, “Subsequent meetings with Cathy Connelly, Susan Longhenry, Janet Webb, Steve Parks and Karen Young around the idea initiated the 2012 Remarkable Women of Taos theme.” Cunningham is also a curator and co-author of the award-winning book In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein. She has researched and lectured on the lives and contributions of Lucy Harwood, Mary and Helen Blumenschein, Helene Wurlitzer, Millicent Rogers, Mabel Dodge Luhan and other luminaries. The Town of Taos hired her to write 30 profiles on historic and contemporary women.

March 22nd, a special day

The Remarkable Women of Taos Kick-off News Conference at the Harwood Museum of Art will take place on Thursday, March 22, at 11 a.m.  There will be a panel discussion moderated by Longhenry. The news conference will be held in the Agnes Martin gallery.

The March 22nd event continues at noon with a screening of “Remarkable Women of Taos: What’s in the Water?” a 30-minute film featuring forty remarkable northernNew Mexico women. Many of them will be in attendance. The film was produced by Peter Walker and Krystina Siebenaler, of Swashbuckler Media. This activity is free and open to the public.

“They are all women who are living inTaostoday and who have made a noticeable contribution to our community,” said Longhenry. “They were interviewed for the film and they are also being invited to the screening. We hope to make the people in Taos aware of their accomplishments.” The women portrayed in the film have shared their passions, advice and the challenges they met in life.

The same day, at 6 p.m, the Agnes Martin Centennial Birthday Party will be celebrated with a fundraising event at the Ranchos Trading Post Cafe, which was one of the artist’s favorite restaurants. “She used to have her own table there and everybody knew her,” said Longhenry. Proceeds from the fundraising will benefit the Harwood’s exhibitions.

“The party will be a wonderful way to pay tribute to Agnes,” said Longhenry, “There will be people who knew her and remember her well. The dinner will include a birthday cake for her, too.”

To commemorate this occasion, the Harwood Museum will also host an exhibition of a little known body of Martin’s paintings from the late 1940s and 1950s. “Agnes Martin: Before the Grid” will trace the entire span of Martin’s early work, beginning with early portraits, a still life and landscapes.

Explorations: Tours and workshops

Associated to the celebratory spirit is the Remarkable Women of Taos, 4-night and 5-day Seven Directions Custom Tours, scheduled for May 18-22, July 20-24, and October 12-16, 2012. The tour will introduce the participants to the rich tapestry of women (Native American, Hispanic and Anglo) who came from all corners of the world to makeNorthern New Mexicotheir home.

Connected them with the celebrations is also the upcoming workshop “Meetings with Remarkable Women” that will be held at the Mabel Dodge house, from June 1 to June 3. This workshop usesTaosas a focusing point to explore a number of questions, like who are the remarkable women ofTaosand what makes them remarkable? What about Taos over the decades has provided such a supportive environment for strong, independent-minded women?

These questions are also inspirational. They not only refer to historical figures, but can be applied to many of us, to shape our identities as Taoseñas and women at the present time.

More information about celebrations, tours and self guided trips can be found online at

Or contact: Joan Griffin:, (505) 764-4444 ext. 222, (505) 261-4444.

To visit Liz Cunningham’s blog go to

The Harwood Museum of Art of theUniversityofNew Mexicois located at238 Ledoux Street,Taos,NM 87571. Phone: 575-758-9826

Advance tickets for the Agnes Martin Centennial Birthday Party are available at the Museum Admissions. For more information, contact

Frieda Lawrence (1879 – 1956)

Picture taken from