Frida Kahlo:: The Museum of Latin American Art

March 15, 2014 was the opening ceremony for the new exhibit, Frida Kahlo, Her Photos, at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA. The exhibit is based on a book of the same title published in 2010 and edited by Mexican photographer, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, also curator of the exhibit.

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The photographs are part of Frida’s personal collection housed in her family home, La Casa Azul, near Mexico City. After her death in 1954 Diego Rivera donated the home to the people of Mexico as a museum. Personal belongings and artifacts in the home including paintings, clothing and photographs were put on display in the museum, while everything else was stored away for over 50 years.

In 2007, Pablo was asked to unseal and go through the photos. In a 2012 interview with Noreen Naseer of Art Beat on PBS, he said, “I started looking, and the idea was to do a show with all the stuff that was there in La Casa Azul, which was not a very big museum.  So when I was asked to curate that show, I did, but as I started looking at the work, I was so fascinated that started working on a book, Frida Kahlo:  Her Photos.”

Pablo went through over 6, 000 photographs. Of those only 200 are on display at MOLAA, reflecting six different elements: origins, family, loves, broken body and photography.

In the exhibition we see her father the photographer as a young man, handsome with passionate eyes; and also as an elder in his twilight years. He was a well-known photographer of his time and also took many self-portraits, an influence we see in Frida’s own works.

Guillermo Kahlo

Guillermo Kahlo

Photographer Guillermo Kahlo

Photographer Guillermo Kahlo


Frida is well known for her vibrant and dramatic paintings, many of them self-portraits, but did you know she was also a photographer? The exhibit includes photos taken by friends, her family and photos taken by Frida herself.  In her photos we see models of life recreated in her paintings:  indigenous life, landscapes and the Ford Motor plant that would become an iconic image in Diego Rivera’s work.  Some of the most striking photos are those of Frida after the major accident that forever changed her life in actuality, in thought, in art. You see a vulnerable but transparent Frida.

 

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint”-Frida Kahlo

Frida-at-the-River

The event at MOLAA was a bit chaotic.  There were many, many people which created long lines through every step of the evening.  The space is not big and most of the photos are small, which made the careful viewing of the photos a tedious experience. I will definitely go back again on a less crowded day to better take in the experience.  Also, there was no book about the exhibit available; not the one the show was based on or any local publication.  It was unclear as to why but I suspect many would have wanted the souvenir for purchase, as I did. Aside from the exhibit halls there was live entertainment in the sculpture garden, food and mini artisan market in the back outdoor space and fun photo prop spots, bar and DJ in the interior studio. Overall there was a vibrant energy and excitement, all components for an excellent night at the museum! Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to get an intimate view of Frida and the life she lived in this very personal collection of photos on display at MOLAA.

La Paz, Mexico – The Fun Baja

La Paz is the capital and largest city of the southern half of the Baja peninsula yet evokes the nostalgic memory of a sleepy fishing town. Established in 1535 it has much history to discover but for many visiting La Paz it’s all about the water! 

Very well-know by Mexican nationals and international tourists for its protected waters in the Sea of Cortez, it is also highly rated as a place for excellent sport fishing, scuba diving, whale-watching, snorkeling and many land and water activities.  I had an opportunity to visit La Paz last August for the first time and had an adventure of a lifetime during a day at sea with the local Fun Baja crew. We headed an hour north by boat to the Isla Espírito Santo, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Bio-Reserve, where we stopped at a sea-lion colony for snorkeling and swimming with sea lions. The fish were a kaleidoscope of shimmering neon yellow, purple and blue, the water crystal clear; the sea lions were playful, curious and fun. Swimming alongside of them, face to face, was a surreal and enlightening experience I will never forget. Truly out of this world!

 

After an hour of play time with these sea creatures we headed to the Fun Baja camp at Ensenada Grande Beach, a gorgeous blue, isolated beach camp stocked with everything you need for a great lunch al fresco. Fresh grilled fish, beer, lounge chaises and, for those left with energy, kayaks and paddle boards.  It was a great day at sea, unforgettable! Fun Baja is true to its name! The staff is fun, super friendly and very knowledgeable, it’s evident they enjoy what they do and my group had a blast along with them!

Fun Baja also offers scuba diving certification programs and overland trips to neighboring Todos Santos and Los Cabos and will be offering their Grey Whale Watching Package to Magdalena Bay through March 30, 2014. Large numbers of  Grey Whales congregate in this bay to mate and birth, making it a very special place. If you’re lucky you will be close enough to rub noses with one! If you go to La Paz, go Fun Baja! You will not be disappointed!

For the après day-at-sea, there are many restaurants and fun pubs in the town of La Paz. The casual El Bismarksito is a local favorite along the Malecon, serving fresh ceviche and fish anyway-you-want-it.  For a fine dining experience, Las Tres Virgenes offers creative and delicious courses of traditional and modern flavors…course after beautiful course, a delicious translation. The Costa Baja Resort is the nicest in the area, there are many options but, unlike Cabo, this is not a resort town so do your research and plan ahead. La Paz is very much a community, you will see locals jogging, swimming and cycling along the beach. The people are very friendly, lots of fun and many speak English. I have only touched on a fraction of what you can do and enjoy in La Paz. You must see for yourself.

Mexico City in the Spring – One of Four Seasons

If you have never been to Mexico City I highly recommend it. Warm people, great food and much to see from Aztec ruins to modern art, the city offers something to satisfy any palette. The best part for me: it’s just a 3 hour flight from LAX!

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With the right planning it’s possible to enjoy the best even for those of us with more moderate budgets. During the spring the Four Seasons Hotel offered a “stay 2 nights get 1 free” package that made for a very reasonable average nightly rate. In addition, the Signature Travel Network offers guests (of select travel agencies only) bonus amenities such as complimentary upgrades (if available), free WIFI and $100 hotel credit , perfect for lunch al fresco in the lush courtyard or the fabulous breakfast buffet including a massive spread of fresh juices, traditional Mexican dishes, fresh fruits, pastries…you name it, the hotel provides it. 

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ImageThe last time I visited the city I stayed in a dorm room at a guest house run by Quakers. But that story will have to be for another time. If you have been there, how do you enjoy the city? Do you take the metro, taxis, buses?