Frida Kahlo at NYBG

By Cameron Boyle

This Halloween weekend will be the end of the phenomenal "Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden Life" exhibition at the New York Botanical Gardens. It is the first to examine Frida Kahlo’s keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork. Featuring a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper, this multi-faceted show also reimagines the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City. Beginning October 23, see an ofrenda—an altar decorated with traditional Mexican images, flowers, sugar skulls, and other mementos—created in homage to Kahlo for Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos),

Frida's recreated studio

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Being a color junkie, I delighted as always in Frida's palette....bright jewel tones found in nature. Above is a recreation of her studio, with jars of colorful powders, ground from natural substances, and used to make her paints. This and other areas in the Haupt Conservatory come alive with the colors and textures of Frida Kahlo’s Mexico. Here the reimagined garden of Frida's Casa Azul (Blue House) comes to life within blue courtyard walls embellished with sienna and green. Visitors stroll along lava rock paths lined with flowers, showcasing a variety of important garden plants from Mexico. The path leads to a scale version of the pyramid at the Casa Azul (shown top of page with Cameron and Christine), originally created to display pre-Hispanic art collected by Kahlo’s husband, famed muralist Diego Rivera. Here it showcases traditional terra-cotta pots filled with cacti and succulents found in her garden.

Guest Curator Adriana Zavala, Ph.D., boasts “As a scholar and ambassador of Mexican culture, I am proud that this exhibition will enrich our understanding of Frida Kahlo’s connection not just to her native Mexico but to the natural world overall. The research that has gone into building this multifaceted project demonstrates that Kahlo’s life, her times, and her work were, like the natural world itself, a crossroads of transcultural influences.”

So run, don't walk, to celebrate Day of the Dead with Frida at the Botanical Gardens. See www.nybg.org for schedule of fabulous happenings.

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