Happy Birthday Amazing Woman

Tomorrow is the celebration of the life of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican surrealist painter. I first met Frida Kahlo 40 years ago–in a book. ago. As I wandered alone in Mexico City, I came upon a decrepit bookstore with creaky old wooden floors. At the time, my Spanish was quite limited, but that didn’t stop me from going in. I pretended I was fluent in Spanish, as I perused through dusty books stacked one on top of another. I picked up a small volume on Frida Kahlo’s life and was intrigued. I sat reading and looking at her portraits for hours, then I bought the book.

She was very beautiful, in an intense, colorful way. Her turbulent life was filled with joy and pain and scandal and creativity. I was drawn to her small self-portrait paintings that reflected her emotional and physical suffering. They were haunting and I had never seen the likes of this kind of work from a woman.

Her birth certificate states her birth was July 6, 1910. But she changed it to July 7th, because it coincided with the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution—the beginning of a modern era, in her mind.

As a teenager, she was seriously injured in a bus accident that profoundly affected her for the rest of her life. She had several surgeries and was trussed in a body cast for months, and that is when she began to paint portraits of herself.

Frida was petulant and charming all wrapped into one. No matter where she went she always wore traditional, colorful clothing and plenty of jewelry—a look that never changed. She was adored wherever she traveled and was a hit in Paris, for her vivid originality. She lived a wild life and loved her tequila and cigarettes. Frida’s off-color vocabulary and a bawdy sense of humor often shocked those around her. She could have cared less what people thought.

Why was I drawn to her? Why do I admire her? I loved her feistiness, her independence, her zest for life and most of all, the raw honesty of her paintings. She was a woman who spoke her mind, and that was not easy to do in those days.

Frida died July 13, 1954 after four years of health issues and surgeries. She was only 47 years old. There is going to be a birthday celebration tomorrow July 7th for Frida Kahlo at Vision Gallery, Chandler, Arizona. http://phoenixfridas.blogspot.com/ Come and celebrate an extraordinary woman as you enjoy some amazing art.

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