Mabel Dodge (1879–1962) was an influential arts patron who helped mount the 1913 Armory Show, sponsored by the Association of Artists and Sculptors, which she was a part of. She was also deeply invested in political and social reform, financing the Paterson Strike Pageant at Madison Square Garden in 1913, in an effort to publicize the plight of striking silk workers in Paterson, New Jersey. Dodge’s inheritance allowed her to travel widely in Europe, where she socialized with patrons such as Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and local artists. During the Armory Show in 1913, she published a pamphlet of a work by Gertrude Stein entitled Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia, which earned her much public attention. In her memoirs she writes about her sapphic encounters with Stein. She had also been writing for modernist literary and art magazines, such as The Dial and Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work, the leftist journal The International, and The Masses. Dodge wrote columns for the New York Journal, that included topics like lending libraries for paintings, making quilts, and Freudian psychology.

All of these accomplishments came after getting divorced from her second husband, which she lived with in Italy. During that time abroad, she interacted with European culturati at her Villa Curonia, which made her accustomed to the environment of Greenwich Village in the early 20th century. Greenwich Village was a bohemian neighborhood, full of artists, writers, anarchists and free-lovers. Dodge, known to be a bisexual bon vivant, would bring these characters together for “Wednesday Evenings” in her apartment on 23 Fifth Avenue for weekly salons prior to World War I, between the years of 1913 and 1916. She is quoted to say that she just “wanted to know everybody,” so it is questioned if her intentions were about creating an atmosphere for new ideas to arise or if she wanted celebrity friends. Either way, her salons were known to be legendary. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, artist Alfred Stieglitz and anarchist Emma Goldman all attended Dodge’s salons. She was said to be a rebel and allowed them to express themselves fluidly and feel confident in their own ideas. During her relationship with the writer, John Reed, she organized nights that became full of dangerous attendees, sexual antagonism, sapphism, and discussions about art and unrest.

Dodge moved to Taos, New Mexico, in 1919 and established a literary colony there. Her connections to artists continued during her time in Taos, where she hosted Florence McClung, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Willa Cather, among others. Dodge’s colony, called “Mabel’s House” was one of the most popular in the area. An accomplished writer in her own right, Dodge was a syndicated columnist for the Hearst organization and wrote several books and an autobiography.


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