Frida!

December 16th

Frida Kahlo exihibit

I first heard about this Frida Kahlo exhibit in southern California like we gather so much of our news these days: Facebook. Someone listed the link on my page. “The world’s largest collection of Frida Kahlo’s works – never before seen together.”

Was I going to see it?

WAS I GOING TO SEE IT?

Of course I was. Fast forward several months and the exhibit is coming to a close in a matter of weeks and I still hadn’t made the time or effort to drive 300 miles west to see my favorite artist. Holidays, budgets, blah blah blah add boring adult stuff here. Enter Sue, who made a generous offer: if I was interested, I could stay at her house with her family for a weekend, and she’d buy the ticket.

WAS I INTERESTED?

Frida Kahlo exihibit

I’m a bit of a Frida weirdo. It started years ago, before Salma’s movie but after I lived in Mexico. I have dressed up like my beloved favorite artist more than once, and own most books discussing her life. I have, for as long as I can remember, felt a deep tug when looking at her art. It gives me goosebumps and sometimes a sick stomach.

For Frida, it was a dark, turbulent life. Her love affair with fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera was rocky at best. (What do you say about a man who sleeps with your sister?) A trolley accident at age 18 would leave her forever in pain, and eventually lead to her death after a series of complicated, miserable surgeries. She had countless miscarriages, and in turn, countless pets who instead received her love. She loved the ancient Mexican culture, and her brute husband, and sometimes other men. And women. She was also rather fond of communism and her German father, a photographer.

Frida Kahlo exihibit

Let’s just say it was complicated. Her art is a great reflection of her messy life – the joy, sorrow, pets, lovers, and physical pain. Many of her paintings are small because they were done while in bed, painted overhead.

As Sue and I entered the exhibit within a converted Navy barrack, boats bobbed within sight in the Pacific, and glasses clinked at an adjoining brewery. I took a deep breath.

For the next two hours, we wound our way through more than 200 pieces of Frida’s art, replicas of her clothing and jewelry, and pieces of furniture constructed like those of the Blue House in Coyoacan.

Frida Kahlo exihibit

There was so much to see, and my senses were at full throddle. With a handful of other people, we walked from painting to painting, taking in the story that led to their creation. My two favorite paintings were in the front room, and I couldn’t hold back tears. To be in the presence of this art that I had studied only in books for more than a decade was magnificent. The colors. The patterns. The history. I stared at Frida’s portraits, one after another, feeling a link to her I cannot explain.

Thank you Sue, for making this happen. I still want to visit Detroit to see Diego’s murals, and Mexico City to visit Frida’s house too. Thanks to my friend Teresa, I am pouring over a new book about Frida’s wardrobe this week as well. And thanks to Sarah, I can even cook Frida’s favorite foods.

Que Viva la Frida!

~K

 

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14 Responses

  1. Lisa Sandbo December 16, 2013

    I LOVE that you did this. It’s so you! I’m hooked, off to the library for some new reading!

  2. Awesome! Anytime you want to come to Detroit, you have a place to stay here, too 🙂

  3. I am so happy to have done this with you. I studied Frida’s art in high school and have been intrigued by the two films I’ve seen about her life. So to see her work in person with a friend who truly appreciates it, was SUCH a treat!

  4. What a great time for Kellli! 🙂

    When we went to see Frida and Diego’s exhibit at the High recently, Caroline was really disturbed by how her self portraits were so very different than her actual photos, among other things.

  5. I have cried in art museums, too. It is very moving to experience artwork that you have only gotten to study at nose level in books. Emotions completely understood by fellow museum junkies!

  6. Glad you love the book! I thought of you immediately when I saw it! 🙂

  7. How cool! So sweet of someone to offer their home and to buy you a ticket <3

  8. There was a Frida exhibit at the Tucson Art Museum last year that we went to. Simply amazing. I am so glad you were able to experience that exhibit so fully. You make me want to go see new things too!

  9. I’m so happy that you got to go see this! There’s always that worry that something you’ve loved for so long will not measure up when you finally get to see it in person, but this exhibit sounds amazing. I love that they included her clothes, jewelry and furniture — from everything I’ve read about her, it seems like her life was her art just as much as her paintings were.

  10. What an awesome treat, Kelli, and I am super glad you were able to make it happen. And thanks to Sue, too!

  11. Kim Campbell December 20, 2013

    How awesome!

  12. Christy January 3, 2014

    Sounds like an amazing experience! I gave an impromtu “Frida” lesson to a group of 2nd Graders when I saw one of them wearing a construction paper unibrow and the teacher started telling me about a painting she had seen of a beautiful Mexican woman. It was interesting to see their reactions to some of her artwork.

  13. Jennifer January 10, 2014

    I’m so glad you could see this! 😀

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