November 11th, 2013 Flew to Mexico city today.
Arrived at night around 9:30 pm and took a taxi to Coyoacan where Frida Kahlo lived most of her life. Coyoacan is very cosmopolitan and exudes wealth and culture. It is now a suburb of Mexico City but in Fridas time it was it’s own town with lakes and farms that have since been developed. Coyoacan means “Place of Coyotes”.
It is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Mexico city. The Project for Public Spaces ranked Coyoacan as one of the best urban spaces to live in North America in 2005 and it is the only Mexican neighbourhood on the list. This area was designated as a “Barrio Mágico” by the city in 2011.
Stayed at La Casita del Patio Verda
November 12th, 2013 My immersion into Frida’s life begins today with a return trip to Frida’s house – La Casa Azul (named for it’s cobalt blue walls). According to Diego’s daughter Guadalupe, Frida and Diego painted the house blue when they moved in together. I was here in 2007 for the first time with my Mother Lee Turner and we loved it! – 2007 was 100 years of Frida – she was born on July 6, 1907 (as noted in her birth certificate – she told people she was born July 10th, 1907 so her birthday would align with the Mexican revolution). Today was my 4th time. Here is a cool picture of Frida outside the blue house with a white parasil. There is an exhibition of Fridas clothing this time…can't wait….” width=”225″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-52″ /> Always exciting to walk through this door. Today was my 4th time. There is an exhibition of Fridas clothing this time…can’t wait….[/caption]Her house was built in 1904 and was the family home. It is a large rectangular home (800m) with an inner courtyard (400 m). Inside the entrance there is a message on the wall telling visitors that Frida y Diego lived here from 1929 to 1954.
When Frida died July 13, 1954 Diego ordered that her private bathroom which contained her wardrobe, clothing, jewellry, perfumes and medical items be locked for 15 years after his death. Dolores Olmedo was a friend and patron of both Frida and Diego paintings and she was put in charge of their estates. The room remained locked for 50 years and only recently was unlocked by Hilda Trujillo Soto, the Director of La Casa Azul- now the Frida Kahlo Museum. Casa Azul hired restoration artists and textile archeologists to resurrect Frida’s clothing. There was a show here of Frida clothing, prothesises, corsets, shoes, jewellry and some Frida inspired clothing created by designers. Seeing Frida’s clothing and jewellry gave me an opportunity to experience her essence more intimately.
I believe this dress was designed by Dai Rees in 2012 inspired by Fridas clothing and corsets. [/caption]
One of the sections of the Blue House I always enjoy mulling around in is the Retablo collection Frida had. Hers are actually Ex-votos (“from a vow”) they are a form of retablo in that they often depict the story that led to their commission. These stories recall dangerous or threatening events that actually occurred, and which the person survived, thanks to the intercession of a sacred person – God, Mary or a saint. They are made as a way of thanking the sacred person for protection in precarious situations, such as surviving an illness or earthquake. They are also made to give thanks for a happy beautiful event such as a pregnancy, success of a new business and new found love, marriage, etc.
The way a retablo and ex-voto look is entirely up to the person designing it, so long as it contains the necessary basic elements. The most important part of the retablo is the representation of the miraculous event. That is why most artists try to use bright, vibrant colors to portray the supremacy of the event. An ex-voto is often painted on a piece of steel.
Off to Frida’s kitchen. She has a beautiful collection of glass, pottery and mole bowls. Of course, doing a project where I am designing Frida inspired kitchenware using Traditional Talavera designs and forms and integrating modern forms and frida inspired art I am very interested to see what is in her kitchen… The first thing that strikes me about Frida’s kitchen is the display of tiny pottery cups on the wall that makes up the image of two Doves and with the names Frida and Diego on each side.
Love this idea of both of their names written with tiny clay pots – it is so romantic and sweet. Frida’s kitchen is big and spacious with loads of beautiful pots, pitchers, plates and mole pots Frida and Diego in a loving embrace in their kitchen. In the dining area where they ate, Frida carried through the bright yellow colour and gave the table an extra touch with various table cloths and center pieces of fruit, flowers, flags, etc..
Okay off to Frida’s bedroom to view all her special treasures. She loved to collect doll house pieces and set up scenes. She also made puppets and did puppet shows for children, you may remember this from the movie FRIDA. Which if you have not seen Salma Hayek as Frida, I highly recommend the Movie. It is very well done and the Director Julie Taymor did an incredible job and if you rent or buy the movie with the special features, they are equally as interesting to watch. In Frida’s bedroom she had a papermache skeleton on the top of her bed and use to wake up in the morning touch it's hand and say "Hola Mana! which in English means Hi there, Sis"” You may recall the painting called “The Dream (The Bed)” which Frida painted in 1940 of her bed and the skeleton on top