Mabel Dodge Luhan, hostess and visionary, made Taos, New Mexico, a center for artists and utopians when she moved there in 1917 and began inviting friends to visit her. Utopian Vistas is a chronicle of the house Mabel Dodge Luhan built in Taos and the poets, painters, photographers, filmmakers, writers, educators, and visionaries whose lives and works were affected by the house and its environs. Skillfully combining scholarship and a gift for storytelling, author Lois Rudnick weaves a complex tapestry depicting American counter-cultures in New Mexico from the 1920s to the 1990s. Against a backdrop of Southwest scenery, Indian and Hispanic cultures, and expatriate Anglos, the story of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house unfolds from its inception in 1918 to its modern-day incarnation as a center for alternate education. Meticulous architectural descriptions are juxtaposed with insightful comments on the personalities - from D. H. Lawrence and Georgia O'Keeffe to Dennis Hopper and George McGovern - who have owned or visited the Luhan property. Inter-ethnic strife and ongoing poverty, hippies and Chicano radicals, gifted artisans and doped-up geniuses, mystics and ghosts mingle together in this compelling story of the house that Mabel built.
Lois Palken Rudnick has written or edited several books on Mabel Dodge Luhan. She is professor of English and American Studies and director of the American Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.