About Remarkable Women of Taos 2012


On March 22, 2012—the 100th birthday of modernist painter Agnes Martin—The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, hosted the official media kickoff for the yearlong theme and celebration of the “Remarkable Women of Taos.” Associated Press newswoman Susan Montoya Bryan’s article, “Taos Embarks on Yearlong Celebration,” appeared in The New York Times. The story spread to Connecticut, California, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, and other places. At home, The Taos News issued a 60-page Remarkable Women of Taos special section, and 100 profiles were posted on the Town of Taos’s taos.org/women website – archived here on this independent website.

 How did this marvelous celebration come to be? It all started with the question: “Why are there so many remarkable women in Taos?” Several Taos residents associated with the Mabel Dodge Luhan House posed this question in the summer of 2009, but it was Director Karen Young who suggested creating a blog to explore it; the following spring, she asked me to host “Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Remarkable Women of Taos.” As we formulated the mission, Karen and I thought some answers might come from the lives of the women themselves.

Then synchronicity happened. In 2009, under Director of Tourism Cathy Connelly, the Town of Taos had launched its first theme-based marketing venture, “The Summer of Love,” honoring notable former resident Dennis Hopper and the town’s presence in Easy Rider. Meeting with gallery owner Stephen Parks after the Town announced its 2010 theme, “Return to Sacred Places,” a question popped into my mind and out of my mouth: “What if the Town of Taos theme for 2012 was the Remarkable Women of Taos?” Steve informed Karen and me that The Harwood Museum of Art was already planning an exhibition of artist Agnes Martin’s 100th birthday to coincide with New Mexico’s centennial statehood celebration. Steve thought that if the five Taos museums would create theme-related exhibitions, these would provide a core of activities to build upon. Weeks later, we three convened with Cathy Connelly, Harwood Museum Director Susan Longhenry, and Webb Design’s Janet Webb. Looking back, I remember saying to my husband: “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I sense it’s going to be something big…and all I have to do is stay in the saddle.” Little did I know—little did any of us know—how it would explode.

 After the Town of Taos approved the 2012 Remarkable Women of Taos theme and the Museum Association of Taos created a roster of exhibitions, Cathy Connelly and Griffin & Associate’s Joan Griffin commissioned me to write 30 profiles on historic and contemporary women. These would seed submissions from the community. Between writing and soliciting profiles and orchestrating exhibitions and events, I assisted the Town’s marketing team with publicity. Marketing manager Jeanne Kitzman reviewed profiles, and Janet Webb published them on the website as quickly as they came in. Toward the project’s end, Janet suggested capturing the stories, activities, and names of the more than 780 women—drawn from the original website entries—in a “year-end report.”

 The publication, and this website, barely scratches the surface; recording all of the remarkable personalities would require a lifetime and several books. This one, a labor of love produced by a community of people, is dedicated to the women of Taos—past, present, and future.

– Liz Cunningham, project coordinator