Mexico City Part 1: 2016 Frida Freak Tour

I’m a Frida Freak. Full on, no apologies. I’ve studied, learned from, and been inspired by her for years. I’ve created artwork with her image

   

…regularly gathered images and quotes on a Frida Freak Pinterest page

…honored her along with my mentor, Ilene, with a Day of the Dead altar

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…and even embodied her for an afternoon to create this gem.

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So what is it about this Mexican goddess that grabs me? You can click on any of the links above to read my thoughts in full. To summarize, I am enthralled with her honesty in creating art, her boldness in showing her inner self fully, her willingness to be so truly Frida. I connect with how she is reported to have lived – wildly and outrageously at times with serious periods of self-exploration leading to intense creative outpourings. That’s me. She speaks my language. Well, not literally, since my Spanish is rudimentary, but we do share an internal creative language that is multi-lingual.

Because of this 10-year love affair, I have achieved the highest rank and status of Frida Freak Membership. Look. Signed by the official Olga Von Einsbrow and everything.

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That was just a goofy gift from my husband, Joel, for my 52nd birthday until it was followed by this clever brochure and then things got real.

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After years of connecting to Frida from afar, I was finally going to her hometown of Coyoacan to ‘feel’ another layer of her presence. I was pumped. And our local Mexican host, Herzonia, aka Hershey, was pumped as well. She’s been coaxing us there for years so was stunned when Joel secretly contacted her to start planning.

We just returned from our Frida Freak adventure and it was everything the FF Tour officials promised in their brochure. On our first full day we walked directly to La Casa Azul and commenced the embodiment.

And here’s embodiment for you. This one from the garden at La Casa Azul.

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Enjoy every inch of those two images because they’re all I have. No photos were allowed inside the house unless an extra fee was paid which we didn’t quite register until midway through. No big deal. I’ve got it all mentally recorded and will spring for the extra privilege next visit.

Frida’s presence predominates La Casa Azul which is to be expected given that it’s her childhood home, her primary residence with Diego and the place where she died. Her studio is breathtaking. It looks like she just stepped out for a little break in the garden. I could have sat down at her easel and given it a go right then and there.

Her strong presence emanates from La Casa Azul to the hundreds of  vendor stalls and shops throughout Coyoacan and the rest of Mexico City. She is EVERYwhere on EVERYthing. I refrained from all with the exception of this wood-bound journal whose cover design is fashioned from dyed pieces of straw.

It is impossible to experience an honest Frida tour without paying homage to Diego as well. Aside from a fieldtrip to the Detroit Institute of the Arts a year ago to see his courtyard of murals commissioned by Henry Ford, I hadn’t delved into his life’s work. It was a treat to be immersed in his murals, along with those of Siquieros, Orozco, and Tamayo at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Breathtaking. Again, no photos allowed without special fees which we missed out on (we’re slow learners) so feel free to check out some lovely ones here on Google.

We visited El Museo Estudio Diego Rivera where Frida and Diego lived for a period of time in separate houses attached by a walking bridge. Here is a view from across the street with Frida’s blue studio on the right and Diego’s on the left.

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A close up of the cactus fence.

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And a view of Diego’s second-floor studio from the back.

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Diego’s studio is seemingly accurately preserved with some of his pre-Columbian art as well as the paper mache Judases that he loved.

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A shot of Hershey and me in Diego’s bedroom. Hard to believe that big guy slept on the little cot.

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El Museo Delores Olmedo was also on our list to see. Delores Olmedo, friend of Frida and Diego, was a successful businesswoman and philanthropist whose estate houses the largest collection of their work. Her property in Xochimilco in southern Mexico City became open to the public as a museum upon her death in 2002. Sadly the collection of Frida’s work was on loan to Moscow so some lucky folks there could breathe her in. All was well as it helped me focus my attention on the beautiful property grounds as well as Diego’s non-mural work which I hadn’t seen before (no photos allowed so use your imagination.) Lots of peacocks roamed the grounds which, as it turns out, are quite the snubbers when it comes to socializing.

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With great care, we were able to capture a few images before they turned their backsides to us.

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And the famous Mexican hairless dogs that live there happened to be out enjoying the sunshine which, by the way, they cannot do for long or they’ll sunburn because they’re…you guessed it…hairless. Can you tell which of these guys are real and which is the statue?

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Last, we embraced a bit of Diego and Frida when we stopped by to see the Floating Gardens while in Xochimilco. Here are a couple of photos (from the internet) of them back in the day riding the famous, flower-adorned boats through the canals.

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We decided to just gawk on this visit and take a ride next time we’re there. You can see how colorful the boats are in the photo below.

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When I got home, I dug out my Frida’s Fiestas cookbook written by Diego’s daughter, Guadalupe, and discovered an entire meal Frida prepared for her boat rides in Xochimilco. I do believe we will be recreating the whole deal on our next visit. I hope Hershey is ready!

Feel free to click on the link below to see the next installment of our trip. Mexico City Part 2: Artitecture.

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4 Comments on “Mexico City Part 1: 2016 Frida Freak Tour

  1. Thanks for sharing about your trip! It looks wonderful! I’m glad you made it to the canals and the dolores olmedo museum- those were some of our favorite places!
    -Clare

    Liked by 1 person

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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