Mabel’s Lights IIII, third in series, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos,
New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2011, by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.
When we were sitting around the fire at a writing retreat a few weekends ago, someone threw two questions out on the floor — If you could go back in time, who would you want to meet? What period in history would you visit? The answers stirred up a lively discussion — and 30 minutes of time travel.
Last Friday at the art studio, same thing. We pulled musty old boxes of albums out of storage — Neil Young, Van Morrison, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Joni Mitchell, Olivia artists, Meg Christian, Margie Adam, and Cris Williamson (women who blazed the way for female musicians, Women’s Music, and Lilith Fair), Aretha Franklin, Prince, UB40, Bob Marley, and Two Nice Girls. We played analogue music on a refurbished turntable; the three of us reminisced about the days before Internet, cell phones, and pagers.
People used to sit around in college dorm rooms and spend hours talking about literature, art, music, women’s rights, civil rights, the environment. When we walked into a room, and the first thing we did was throw a scratchy album on the stereo, light candles (when candles still dripped), and plop down on the nearest sofa to talk. We painted blue skies and puffy clouds on the wall of the 1800’s apartment we were renting. Hours passed; we didn’t notice. Yet every second we talked, the world kept changing.
That’s why I’d go back to the 1920’s, to the salons of Paris; to Mabel’s heyday in Taos; to the likes of Gertrude Stein, D. H. Lawrence, Frieda Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Dorothy Brett, Aldous Huxley, Alfred Stieglitz, and Carl Jung. In the 1920’s, a creative renaissance was booming; the second wave of feminism was rolling across the country, women could finally vote.
Photographer, Berenice Abbott studied with Man Ray in the early 1920’s. Amelia Earhart took her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921, and in six months managed to save enough money to buy her first plane (Hillary Swank will star in the lead role of the upcoming feature film “Amelia” along with Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor. Shooting is taking place in Toronto and the film is currently scheduled to be released sometime in 2009.)
In 1922, Frida Kahlo attended the National Preparatory School in Mexico City, with a goal of studying medicine at university. She admired Diego Rivera as he worked on a mural at the prep school. In 1925, Zora Neale Hurston became Barnard’s first black student, studied under anthropologist, Dr. Franz Boas, and received a scholarship through novelist, Barnard founder, and Harlem Renaissance supporter, Annie Nathen Mayer.
During the 1920s, Hurston was dubbed “Queen of the Renaissance.” She was good friends with Richard Wright until their differences in philosophy, and a dispute over a mutual project they were working on, drove a wedge between them.
- 6 novels
- a collection of short stories
- two plays
- a screenplay about the life of Malcolm X (later the basis for a Spike Lee film)
- a volume of poems
- two book-length dialogues (one with anthropologist Margaret Mead, the other with poet Nikki Giovanni)
- a short book (part autobiographically-based and part sociologically-based) about American movies
- a long essay on a series of murders of young African American children in Atlanta, Georgia, in the early 1980’s
- 5 other volumes of essays and nonfiction
The man was on fire.
If you could go back in time, where would you go? Who would you like to meet?
Mabel’s Place II, The Early Days, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Mabel, Tony, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008