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Published: February 19th 2019
Frida Kahlo probably is the most internationally recognized Mexican artist, not only because of her unique paintings but also her controversial political and lifestyle. Her home, Casa Azul (Blue House) is the museum about her life. The tickets for Saturday was sold out online so we got to the museum early and stood in line for tickets. Lucky for us we got in. The blue house was where Frida was born and grew up with her family. She contracted polio at age 6 that caused her right leg to be shorter than the left. She was refused by a teacher to participate in school dance due to her uneven legs. This incident impacted Frida’s life and she wore long skirts for most of her life and never considered herself beautiful. Another tragedy struck her when, at age 18, she was in a bus that collided with a streetcar. A metal rod impaled her pelvis, broke several vertebrates, resulted in multiple surgeries, prolonged time in bed and life long back pain. To relieve her boredom, her parents set up an easel on top of her bed with a mirror so she could see herself and paint. After recovery, she joined the communist
party and met and married Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican mural painter. She hosted many parties for both political and artist friends. She hid and protected the Russian writer Leon Trotsky until his assassination several years later. Her marriage to Diego was romantic yet turbulent, both Frida and Diego took many lovers, they divorced and remarried. At the end of Frida’s life, it was Diego who purchased the Blue House and dedicated it as a memory to her.
Frida’s paintings, many of them were portraits of herself, were brutally honest, like the oil she did on metal in 1932 at the Henry Ford Hospital right after her miscarriage. Her painting showed her twisted body naked on the bed, bloody with hemorrhage, a male fetus, orchid-like uterus, umbilical ribbons and snails (reflecting the slowness of recovery) floated in the air. Her helplessness and depression were so palpable they jumped out of the painting at the viewers. Frida's paintings mixed reality and fantasy in such a straightforward, primitivistic style, no one can look at it without being touched by her emotions and pain. That is why she was such a great artist.
We walked around Villa Coyoacan, Frida's neighborhood. It
was Saturday and the temperature was just right, there was a festival in the park celebrating the culture and foods from the Michoacan region. We enjoyed the dance and just mingled with local people. Ray even found a local bakery which reminded him of his favorite stores in Taiwan. A plate full of freshly baked goodies only set us back about US$5, you just couldn't find such bargains back home. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Les Danzantes which included a sampler of 7 different mole sauces and a corn salad mixed with 'smut'. Both Ray and Jim were farm boys and considered smut a nuisance on growing corns. The smut in my salad tasted like mushroom and was not bad at all!
Came back to our hotel at the center of town. The plaza was full of weekend people and families. In the park we saw ’Flying Men’ on ropes. It is a ritual from the region of Malecon to offer gratitude to the Sun and Rain Gods. People were hanging upside down on ropes, spinning slowly toward ground. Click the link and let me know if you are able to see the video https://photos.app.goo.gl/szVEoxRjcouaofSMA
saw quite a few people were treated with cleansing herbal smoke. This scene reminded us of our experience in Brazil. Looking at all the bustle and hustle in the plaza, I was thinking of the last painting Frida did before her death in 1954, a still life of cut watermelon slices. In spite of her long-suffering of ill health and traumas, Frida left us her parting word '"Viva la Vida' (Live Life)!
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