Even historically aware Buffalonians may not have heard of Mabel Dodge Luhan, the globe-trotting socialite who helped to foster some of the great artistic careers and events of the 20th century.
Luhan, best known for her role in turning Taos, New Mexico into a destination for major American artists, is the focus of a touring exhibition opening March 10 in the Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.).
The show, "Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and The West," organized by the University at New Mexico's Harwood Museum of Art, focuses on Luhan's sphere of influence and her gravitational pull in Taos. It features more than 150 objects, including paintings by Marsden Hartley, Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keeffe paired with "the works of Pueblo and Hispano artists who inspired their modernist sensibilities."
In addition, the Burchfield Penney's version of the show includes a section dedicated to Luhan's Buffalo roots curated by Burchfield Penney curator and head of collections Nancy Weekly. That section features photographs on loan from the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site and work by one of Luhan's early teachers.
"Our museum has wanted to bring attention to this interesting, complex woman for decades," Weekly said in a statement. "In a world dominated by men, Mabel used her wealth to help the disenfranchised have the time, space, and means to promote their ideas and create new work. She challenged 19th-century societal values on so many levels."
The show runs through May 28. Admission is free on March 10 as part of the center's monthly M&T Second Fridays event. Regular admission is $5 to $10.