A cel­e­bra­tion of Frida Kahlo

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Joella Bau­mann

Ex­trav­a­gant head­dresses, flow­ing skirts and drawn-in uni­brows abounded Satur­day as “Fri­da­ma­nia” thrived along Mor­ri­son Road in Den­ver’s West­wood neigh­bor­hood.

Frida Kahlo, one of the most in­flu­en­tial Mex­i­can painters of the 20th cen­tury, was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the Frida Kahlo Cel­e­bra­tion of Life Art Show. She is also cel­e­brated in sev­eral per­ma­nent neigh­bor­hood fix­tures.

The area brims with cul­tural vi­brancy ev­i­dent in ev­ery­thing from the in­tri­cate mu­rals on most of the build­ings to the brightly painted trash cans along the side­walks.

The event had its hum­ble be­gin­nings in a now-closed tat­too and art gallery owned by San­ti­ago Jaramillo — one of the event’s cu­ra­tors and a third-gen­er­a­tion res­i­dent of West­wood. He has been run­ning the event five of its six years.

“I per­son­ally be­lieve a lot of the things that Frida stood for,” he said. “For me to be able to honor her mem­ory that way — and so close to her birthday (July 6) — it’s re­ally mean­ing­ful to me.”

The col­or­ful mer­ca­dito on Mor­ri­son Road and run by West­wood Food Co­op­er­a­tive has hosted the event for the past three years.

Artist of all ages and ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els sub­mit­ted their works into the gallery — at $5 per en­try — and of­fered the pieces at a price of their choos­ing. Thirty per­cent of the pro­ceeds will go to Bucu West, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helped fund the event and works with lo­cal law­mak­ers to en­hance the Mor­ri­son cor­ri­dor.

“Any­one could en­ter,” said Crys­tal O’brien, one of the cu­ra­tors. “Begin­ning, emerg­ing and pro­fes­sional artists, we kept it open to ev­ery­one, and it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing in the paint­ings to see how artists in­ter­pret Frida in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Four­teen-year-old Annabelle Gayle was the youngest con­tribut­ing artist, with a starkly beautiful, bright-blue Kahlo por­trait.

Annabelle, who also was sell­ing jew­elry and hand­made cards, was in­spired by Frida at a young age and ex­hibits her work at other shows and First Fri­days in the Santa Fe Arts District.

“She is one of the most fa­mous Mex­i­can artists and she is mixed race like me,” Annabelle said. “I get a lot of crit­i­cism for be­ing mixed, and she prob­a­bly did, too,”

Ven­dors sold baked goods and Kahlo-in­spired wares. The event also fea­tured mu­sic per­formed by Jon Romero y Amanecer, and free food pro­vided by Kahlo’s Mex­i­can restau­rant.

For Jaramillo, the event is a way to ex­pose his com­mu­nity to the arts and to things that he didn’t see grow­ing up in the neigh­bor­hood.

Many ad­mire Kahlo’s work ex­plor­ing ques­tions of iden­tity, post­colo­nial­ism, gen­der, class and race in Mex­i­can so­ci­ety and her un­com­pro­mis­ing de­pic­tion of the fe­male ex­pe­ri­ence.

A look-alike con­test was held — not only for the best-dressed Kahlo but also for the one who gave the best an­swers about how Kahlo in­spired them.

An­drea Mu­jica of Parker wasn’t able to at­tend the event last year but made sure to fol­low the event’s Face­book page so she wouldn’t miss it this year.

“I’ve just al­ways been a huge fan of Frida as an artist and fem­i­nist,” she said. “I’ve al­ways felt a spe­cial con­nec­tion with her and her story and her art. I con­nect with the trauma and pain that is con­cealed in her paint­ings that are so provoca­tive and col­or­ful.”

Gabriel Scar­lett, The Den­ver Post

Vis­i­tors on Satur­day dress up for a photo booth dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of the life and work of Mex­i­can artist Frida Kahlo at the West­wood Food Co­op­er­a­tive along Mor­ri­son Road in the Den­ver neigh­bor­hood.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.