We discovered this last Sunday as we made our afternoon visit as part of the Looking for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Art History Tour. Disappointed? Yes.
But, the Rivera galleries were intact and we were treated to a special exhibition of Pablo O’Higgins lithographs in the space that usually holds Frida’s work.
Pablo O’Higgins, one of Diego Rivera’s most talented disciples, participated in the making of Rivera murals in the public education building, and then painted his own at the Abelardo Rodriguez market.
He is an enigma to many. He changed his name from Paul Higgins Stevenson (there is even controversy about his real original name) when he arrived in Mexico at age 20 to obscure his upper-class family origins and identity. His father, a conservative lawyer participated in the death sentence of miner and labor organizer Joe Hill.
Writer Susan Vogel addresses the question of his identity in her book, Becoming Pablo O’Higgins: How an Anglo-American Artist from Utah Became a Mexican Muralist.
The character of O’Higgins is fascinating if not fully articulated. Here is a blonde, blue-eyed giant among the Mexican working-class, painting and drawing powerful images of average daily life.
This exhibition, combined with the one at the Museo de Mural de Diego Rivera, shows the skill and directness of O’Higgins’ work. Real. Intense. Honest. Compelling.
So, ultimately, we were not disappointed. The visit was enhanced by this special exhibition.
I’m in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, now, and will be here for the month of April, taking care of legal and health care check-ups. (Don’t worry, all is well.)
On Friday evening, my artist friend, Hollie Taylor Novak, is opening an exhibition at the North Carolina Craft Gallery featuring her Frida Tributes. I’ll be writing more about that later.
Saludos from the state that needs to elect a new governor!