Utah events remember the life and art of Frida Kahlo, an exceptional woman

By Tania Navarro

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 8 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

Three Frida dolls are displayed during the opening of the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Salt Lake City Main Library.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Frida Khalo's art has traveled around the world, but her personal story speaks for itself about the woman who created surreal experiences, full of color and excitement.

To share with Utah the life and the art of an exceptional woman, Salt Lake's Main Library is presenting the exhibition "Viva Frida!" the sum of the efforts spearheaded by the organization "Las Artes de Mexico in Utah" and the Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City.

Susan Vogel, director of the project, said, "Last year I was involved in the exhibitions of 'Las Artes de Mexico' and 'Work on Paper of Pablo O'Higgins,' at the UMFA, and what we noticed is that there was an in

credible response from the community, so in the end, local artist Lucy Paredes and I sat down to talk and we felt it was necessary to do something to endure that experience and to form something for the community to join the celebration of Mexican art and culture."

With the support of other local organizations and individuals, they were able to organize a month of activities including film screenings, lectures, workshops and even a health fair to celebrate the legacy of the Mexican artist.

Relationship with Utah

Although Frida Kahlo never came to Utah, there is a special relationship between this region and the artistic duo of Frida and Diego Rivera.

Paul O'Higgins, born in Salt Lake City and apprentice of Rivera, is only a part of that merger.

Vogel said two other residents of the Beehive State served to help celebrate Frida Kahlo.

"Tina Misrachi-Martin is the daughter of Alberto Misrachi, who was a seller for Diego Rivera's art from 1935 to 1945 and a close friend of Frida and Diego. Frida sent letters to 'Albertito' asking him for money and she also painted his portrait, so Tina has many wonderful stories and anecdotes about Diego at parties, and about how funny Frida was, asking little Tina to hide a bottle of 'tequilita' in the medicine cabinet," she said.

"The other connection that we are bringing to this celebration is Nickolas Muray, a photographer in New York and a close friend of Miguel Cobarruvia. They were part of that group of artists that traveled between Mexico to New York in the late '30s and '40s. Nickolas Muray, was a close friend of Frida for almost 10 years and when Frida and Diego split up, Nickolas and Frida had an intimate relationship, so through his daughter Mimi Muray Lovett, who lives in Utah, we have a collection of genuine pictures of Frida by Nickolas Muray. Some of them are in the Main Library and others at the Mestizo Art Gallery."

The legacy

As a child, Frida was diagnosed with polio, an illness that left her legs very weak, and as a teenager, she was involved in a train accident, which caused permanent injuries to her spine, ribs, neck and pelvis.

But her talent and the love that she had for life led her through a path where art became her escape from reality and a filter to take away the pain that she transformed into canvas.

"When we see her art, we think that Frida was a woman who suffered a lot, but people who knew her as Tina know that she was vibrant, that she loved life, that she was funny, playful, and that's the legacy that she left and that we can now appreciate," Vogel said.

"Frida was a person with disabilities who refused to be defined as such, so even though she had many limitations, she tried to take her life fully and with passion, besides the talent that characterized her," she said.

Activities

Viva Frida! and Nickolas Muray's photography will be on display at the Salt Lake City Main Library through Oct. 20. Other exhibitions are at Mestizo Coffeehouse in Rose Park and Art Access Gallery downtown.

The Mexican movie "De ida y vuelta" will be shown on Oct 18.

A special screening of the movie "Frida," starring Salma Hayek, will be presented on Oct. 16 at 3 p.m.

For more information on events, visit www.vivafridautah.com or www.slcpl.lib.ut.us/events.

email: tnavarro@desnews.com

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