Touring in search of Notable Women of New Mexico

Mabel Dodge Luhan's Beloved Taos Pueblo

Mabel Dodge Luhan's Beloved Taos Pueblo

I recently had the joy of learning about and visiting some inspirational, memorable women in northern New Mexico.  The Notable Women of New Mexico tour was conceptualized by Patrizia Antonicelli of Santa Fe-based Seven Directions Tours. She offers this tour, as well as customized tours of the Southwest for discriminating clients who wish to learn about the cultures of the Southwest and experience those hidden gems that only a skilled tour guide with an amazing network of friends can provide.

Our four day tour led us to artists’ studios, Indian pueblos, museums and historic homes. With some relaxing time for shopping and dining, all organized by our guide, we experienced some of the highlights of beautiful northern New Mexico.

Notable Women of the Past
While we found some very interesting and creative women on our journey, it was the glamour of some of the women of the past that intrigued me. As we drove through northern New Mexico we encountered sites and stories about well-known women – Millicent Rogers, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Georgia O’Keeffe and Native

Millicent Rogers, Notable Woman of the Southwest

The Fascinating Millicent Rogers

 American legends such as potter Maria Martinez.

Millicent Rogers
I enjoyed learning about Millicent Rogers while touring the Millicent Rogers Museum outside of Taos. Millicent Rogers was one of those educated, wealthy people from east coast high society who fell in love with the Southwest and recognized that the culture and art needed to be preserved.

Rogers, quite the fashionista, built a home in Taos in the ’40’s and surrounded herself with Native American and Hispanic art. She shed her ball gowns for a more comfortable authentic Navajo blouse, long skirts,  shawls and bare feet. All, of course, was accompanied by beautiful pieces of jewelry which you can enjoy in the jewelry section of the museum.

You can visit her collections which contain some rare items and revisit the times when Native American jewelry and Southwest style were not in the every-day vocabulary of most Americans, let alone people from outside the U.S.

Mabel Dodge Luhan
Another woman who fascinates me is Mabel Dodge Luhan. After reading her book, Edge of the Taos Desert, I realized how out of place she had felt as a part of New York society in 1919,  and how she was called to Taos and the lifestyle she found with the people at Taos Pueblo.

As we drove the winding gorge highway to Taos and visited Taos Pueblo I thought of her and how she came to Taos, almost an unheard of adventure for a woman in her day.

We visited her adobe home, the one her Native American husband built for her, I thought of the heartfelt words that she wrote in her book how those words echoed my experience in being drawn to the Southwest.

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House  is now a Bed and Breakfast. It is frequently used as a tree-shaded retreat center for artists and writers. It is as relaxing now as it must have been in her day.

Art in the Home of the White Sisters

Art in the Home of the White Sisters

The White Sisters
Our visits to the haunts of these adventurous women who loved the Southwest ended at an amazing place right in Santa Fe. Adding to our fascinating memories of notable women who could have easily remained in more “civilized” places, we were further impressed as we toured El Delirio, the home of the White sisters.

Amelia Elizabeth White (1878–1972), daughter of newspaper publisher Horace White, grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan, studied classics at Bryn Mawr College, and made frequent trips to Europe. Her younger sister Martha, also a Bryn Mawr graduate, accompanied Elizabeth on her travels, which included a trip to Santa Fe in 1923.

They fell in love with the town and purchased land. The beautiful estate, once a setting for elaborate parties and home to the first swimming pool in the area, is now home to SAR, School for Advanced Research. While there is support for researchers and artists at SAR, what fascinated me was the beauty of the sisters’ home, an elegant example of Southwest style, and the lifestyle led by the White sisters. Their southwest art and pottery collections remain and can be toured by appointment.

Touring Ideas
While you can build your own itinerary and fill it with visits to sites focusing on notable women, I found that having the organizational talents of our tour guide,

Southwest Style - Iron Work in the White Sisters' Home

Southwest Style - Iron Work in the White Sisters' Home

 Patrizia Antonicelli and her knowledge of the area and the people invaluable.

Patrizia specializes in developing itineraries and tours that meet the needs of her clients. Your tour may include some of my favorites or, you may want to focus on current women artists who live and work in New Mexico. I highly recommend a tour such as the Notable Women of New Mexico. In fact, it would be a great idea for a girls’ getaway.
More Information
Note: This article was written as a result of a Seven Directions Tours  hosted experience

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