Tag Archives: Frida Kahlo

Around the Zocalo, Sunday in Mexico City

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-138Sunday is family day in Mexico. Most people work a long six-day week often until eight or nine at night, so this is the only time they have together for an entire day. On this particular Sunday, the Zocalo is filled with families flying kites across the great expanse that looks as huge as Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-140 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-142

I love to stay in the historic center of Mexico City to walk the cobbled streets, take in the murals and enjoy the street life. There is a deep sense of ancient history here reflecting Aztec roots. The Templo Mayor is nearby with an impressive archeological dig going on to uncover more of Tenochtitlan.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-149

For art glass lovers, two buildings boast art nouveau glass domed ceilings. The central atrium of the upscale department store Palacio de Hierro has a fine example. The other adorns the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. The hotel is at the corner of the Zocalo (entrance on Av. 16 de Septiembre) and the store is a block away.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-148 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-145

On this particular Sunday, the last before Easter vacation ends and Mexican school children must return to the classroom, we are approached by youngsters needing to complete their school assignments: interview a foreigner who speaks English and record the interview. It is almost dusk. Time is running out. Parents are at hand with tablets and hand-held devices to help get this done.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-127 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-129

We finish off the Zocalo stroll at the rooftop restaurant of Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico with a mango mezcal margarita rimmed with worm salt and a magnificent Zocalo view as the sun sets.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-153 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-150

Then, it’s off to Calle Isabel la Catolica #30 for a grand finale dinner at Azul Historico.

Be sure to catch the indigenous clothing gallery, Remigio, on the second floor of Isabel la Catolica #30 featuring hand-woven garments with natural dyes.  Right next door, avant clothing designer Carla Fernandez offers hand-carved wood bracelets from molinillo parts. Both shops close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, 8 p.m. other nights.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-156 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-154 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-126

In the same building, behind the central stairway, is a mural by artist Manuel Rodriguez Lozano called the Holocaust — not to be missed!

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-134 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-144

Lots to do in just a few square blocks.

Some of the highlights of our Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Art History Tour of Mexico City. Contact me if you want to join in winter/spring 2015-2016. MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-136

 

Peacocks and Xoloitzcuintle: Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum Garden

It’s not very common to get up close and personal with a peacock. Nor is it usual to come within a foot or two of the pre-Hispanic indigenous, Mexican hairless dog the Aztecs called xoloitzcuintle.

Peacocks-14

Both are an integral part of the landscape at the Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum in Mexico City that houses the largest private collection in the world of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo paintings.

Peacocks-30

The collection is exhibited in an ex-hacienda that Olmedo purchased in the 1960’s, then on the outskirts of Mexico City in Xochimilco near the last remaining Aztec floating gardens, accessible via gondolas that traverse the canals.  Today, thePeacocks-33

neighborhood of La Noria has been absorbed by the city sprawl of almost 25 million people. Sunday is the best day to visit when traffic is light.

Peacocks-27

Olmedo was a long-time friend and patroness of Rivera, and a Kahlo classmate at the National Preparatory School. An astute and independent business woman, Dolores Olmedo not only purchased many of Rivera’s paintings but also those of Frida at Diego’s request.

Peacocks-9

Rivera asked her to be executor of his estate and to preserve the contents of Casa Azul. She agreed not to open the bathroom/closet doors for fifteen years after his death.  Today her Foundation operates both the Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum and Casa Azul.

Peacocks-29  Peacocks-22 Peacocks-31

It wasn’t until after Olmedo died in 2002 that the closet contents were revealed. There is no clear explanation for why she kept the contents secreted away. Letters, drawings and the wardrobe that is now on display in the Casa Azul Museo Frida Kahlo annex exhibit area were uncovered revising the history of the Kahlo-Rivera relationship.

Peacocks-4

 

 

The park-like grounds of the Olmedo museum attracts families and school children most weekends. There is a small restaurant with good, reasonably priced and basic Mexican food. The outdoor stage brings musicians and dancers from all over Mexico to entertain the crowds. Last weekend a band of musicians from Veracruz and Oaxaca played jarocho music accompanied by a versatile dancer.

Peacocks-10 Mostly, it’s the peacocks and the dogs who thrill the children. It’s mating season and there is full display of plumage and a lot of tail feather shaking going on.

Peacocks-25 Peacocks-13

Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Art History Tour with a knowledgeable art historian, coming winter 2015-2016. Let me know if you are interested in joining us.

 

 

Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: Garden at Casa Azul

Casa Azul, home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Coyoacan, Mexico City, has a stunning garden. Once the home of Frida’s father and mother, and where she was born in 1907, Rivera bought the property after the family amassed huge debt paying for years of treatment after the bus accident that severely handicapped Frida at age eighteen.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-44 The garden is surrounded by intense blue walls, which F & D painted after they moved in. It was expanded when Leon Trotsky moved into the complex for security reasons. He later moved to another house in the neighborhood where he was assassinated by Stalin‘s henchmen in post-revolutionary Soviet Union.MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-34

The garden is a lush expanse of tropical plants, pre-Columbian sculpture, small pools, a miniature pyramid that is a sometimes altar and walking paths.  As you exit the house, built of volcanic stone, after the self-guided tour, you come down a staircase where some pause overlooking a pool lined in tiles painted with frogs.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-15 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-17 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-19Frida called Diego Frog and you see this both here at Casa Azul and at the Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum in Xochimilco. Dolores was his patron and preserved the contents of Casa Azul for posterity through her foundation. Frida’s ashes are in the pre-Columbian frog urn on her bedroom dresser.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-54 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-58 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-48

There are benches for sitting under the shade and the calm of a fountain. Perfect for reflecting on their lives together and the iconic image of feminism that she has become. I often refer to her as our contemporary Virgin of Guadalupe because Frida Kahlo carries that reverence among art lovers and intellectuals that makes her almost god-like.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-2 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-5 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-6

I’ve organized the art history tour Looking for Friday Kahlo and Diego Rivera for the past two years and I’ve been to the house no less than six or eight times during this period.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-72 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-74

It is always enthralling, but this time I decided to put myself in the garden, find a backdrop that I liked and wait for photographs, a la Henri Cartier-Bresson.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-11

I recall Rivera who went to Europe for fourteen years to study the great masters, copying them, refining classical painting techniques, experimenting with Cubism and Impressionism before developing his own remarkable style after returning to Mexico in 1921.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-24

So, I have ordered the book Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Mind’s Eye, so I can understand the philosophy behind his picture-taking and practice his style.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-36 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-43 MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-81

Frida Kahlo lived most of her short life in pain.  She died at age 47 in 1954. Rivera died in 1957.  He was twenty-two years older that her. The exhibition space is devoted to indigenous dresses she wore to hide her deformities, polio which she contracted at age eight and then the accident that necessitated living her life in a spinal brace with regular surgeries and hospitalization for traction.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-3

She was never able to conceive a child and this was a focus of her later painting which captures this life tragedy.

MexCityPeacocks_StrLife-7

If you are interested in organizing a small group to explore the Mexican Muralists and the life of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera accompanied by a knowledgeable art historian, please contact me. We are organizing this art history program for fall/winter 2015-2016.

 

Thanksgiving and Frida Kahlo, Hospitals and Recovery

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2014. I’m at Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, North Carolina recovering from knee replacement surgery in a hospital bed that reclines to any position at the touch of a finger. In the past twenty-four hours, Frida Kahlo has often entered my mind.

FullSizeRender-1 2FridasDetail

Mostly because she did such a miraculous job of hiding her pain and her deformity when medicine at the time did not offer sophisticated drugs or surgical techniques. She adorned herself in jewelry and costumes to focus attention to her upper body.

Hospital1 Hospitalflowers

Mostly because I want to look “normal” just like she did. Friends will come to visit today with good cheer, turkey and mashed potatoes in hand. My bandaged leg is under a blanket, my lipstick is applied.

Mostly because having surgery is a solitary experience, even surrounded by flowers, accompanied by Facebook, family and friends who are with me in this virtual world. Frida did not have Facebook and WhatsApp to connect her. She had her imagination and insights.

She reached out to connect by looking in the mirror that still hangs above her recovery bed in Casa Azul, paintbrush and canvas in hand, sketchbook and pencil in hand, to express her feelings about life, death, politics and Diego.

hospitalknitting  Hospitalmittens

I have my knitting at hand, my dreams rumbling around in my mind and my plans for the new year formulating.

HospitalAirportWheelchair FullSizeRender-2 DiegoFrida4Group2-18 copy

When I left Mexico City last week to return to North Carolina for this surgery, I kept the image of Frida on her bed with me. Her effigy was draped in an indigo shawl reflected in the mirror above.

My knee will heal and the pain will subside. This is more than a hope. It is knowledge that my care team led by Dr. Rhett Hallows, a Duke orthopedic surgeon, is expert. Afterall, I did interview four surgeons in September!

Today, one day after the procedure, I used day-glow pink, duct-taped crutches  to walk my first three hundred and one steps down the hospital corridor. The goal was three hundred, but my friend Mary Ann said, go on, you can do one more. So, I did.

DiegoFrida4Group2-7 copy IMG_4968

I am reclined in my hospital bed ready to welcome visitors. I give thanks for the gift of life as it presents itself each day, each moment a different experience and not as I predicted.

It is a perfect day for giving thanks, to my family and friends, to the strangers who care for me, and to Frida’s memory, a woman who endured hardship and pain. Frida is a model for what it means to transcend, create and live large.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful you are a part of my life.

Hospital Wall Chart SunriseAirplane-2

 

Looking for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Art History Study Tour, April or July 2015.

Looking for Frida Kahlo + Diego Rivera: Art History Tour 2015

Come to Mexico City for an art history tour to explore the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera through their art.

DiegoFrida4Group2-11 copy

2015 Schedule

  • April 9 – 13, 2015

We will have a long weekend — 4 nights and 5 days, to learn about Diego Rivera‘s stunning Mexico City murals, visit Casa Azul where Diego and Frida Kahlo lived, and see the largest private collection of their work at the Dolores Olmedo Museum.  Through their eyes, you will better understand Mexico’s political, cultural and social history.

If you want to register, send me an email.

2FridasDetail

Our guide is art historian Valeria Espitia, M.F.A.,  who shares her passion for the Mexican Muralists and narrates the expedition.  She leads us through these spaces to give you the most meaningful educational experience:

  • Palacio Nacional
  • Palacio Bellas Artes
  • Museo de Mural de Diego Rivera
  • Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP)
  • San Ildefonso National Preparatory School and Abelardo Rodriguez market
  • Casa Azul — the home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
  • Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño

DiegoFrida4Group-7 copy DiegoFrida4Group-84 copy

Casa Azul  — Museo Frida Kahlo is a tribute to the life of both artists. Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño has the largest private collection of Frida and Diego paintings in the world. She was a benefactor and life-long personal friend of Rivera.

DiegoFrida4Group2-18 copy CasaAzul72013-7 DiegoFrida4Group2-32 copy

Plus, we will shop for outstanding folk art, and eat at local markets, historic and fine contemporary and traditional restaurants!

Looking4Diego-19 Looking4Diego-25

The trip includes:

  • 4 nights lodging at a top-rated, historic center hotel
  • guided discussions by art historian Valeria Espitia, MFA, educated at UNAM and Southern Methodist University
  • visits to folk art galleries
  • introduction to Norma’s favorite restaurants (meals not included)
  • transportation to Casa Azul and Dolores Olmedo Museum

DiegoFrida4Group2-5 copy DiegoFrida4Group2-39 copy

Preliminary Itinerary

  • Day 1, Thursday: travel day, arrive and check into our hotel.  Join in for an optional group welcome dinner (arrive by 6 p.m.)
  • Day 2, Friday: guided visit to SEP, San Idlefonso, and the Abelardo Rodriguez market where Rivera’s students painted, optional group dinner
  • Day 3, Saturday: guided visit to Palacio Bellas Artes and Museo Mural de Diego Rivera, optional folk art shopping
  • Day 4, Sunday:  guided visit to Casa Azul and Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño
  • Day 5, Monday: depart

Be ready to WALK and then, walk some more!  Don’t forget to bring an extra suitcase to pack the treasures you pick up along the way.

Cost:  $695 per person double occupancy.  $995 per person single occupancy.

Rivera2

What the trip doesn’t include:

  • breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, alcoholic beverages
  • transportation to/from Mexico City
  • museum admission fees
  • mandatory international health/accident insurance
  • tips for hotels, meals and other services

Cost:  $695 per person double occupancy.  $995 per person single occupancy. Maximum: 6 people.

Optional: Arrive early and/or stay later to discover Mexico City and her incredible museums and restaurants. We will provide you with a list  of recommendations to explore on your own. $200 per day per person additional. Tell us your dates and we will make your hotel reservations and include this in your invoice.

Rivera3

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit will guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance is due 45 days before the program start date.  Payment shall be made by PayPal.  We will send you an itemized PayPal invoice.

Please understand that we make lodging and other arrangements months in advance of the program.  Deposits or payments in full are often required by our hosts.  If cancellation is necessary, please tell us in writing by email.   After 45 days before the program starts, no refunds are possible.  However, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute.  If you cancel on or before the 45 day date, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

DiegoFrida4Group2-7 copy

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance.  Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure.  If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a signed and witnessed waiver of liability, holding harmless Norma Hawthorne and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  Unforeseen circumstances happen!

Looking4Diego-15 Looking4Diego-2

To register, email us at  normahawthorne@mac.com. We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.

DiegoFrida4Group-77 copy

This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to adjust the itinerary and substitute leaders without notice.