Archive for January, 2010

January 18, 2010

Our New Blog Address

We have moved our Tales From The Road Blog to a new site, be sure to book mark it!


Here’s what’s new on the new blog site:

1.  Tales From the Road

2.  Photo albums of our travels in Mexico

3.  Previews of new merchandise – a first chance to purchase new items that are enroute and can be pre-ordered before it makes it up on our site.

January 17, 2010

Casa Azul, Frida’s House

The Frida Kahlo Museum and the house that she grew up in, the house she was nursed back to health in after her tragic accident, the house she learned to paint in. This was her family home, which after one of her break ups with Diego Rivera, she moved back to. She painted it blue. She and Diego later brought the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife here to live. She spent her last days and died here. (slideshow at the bottom of this post)

The grounds outside the room where Frida's day bed was.

I was truly stunned by the size of the grounds, as well as the design of the structures which skirted the outer perimeter near the street, different than I had imagined. I was equally surprised at how many preconceived ideas about Frida Kahlo’s life I had adopted which this visit dispelled by just being in the presence of the real thing. This always happens to me with art galleries anyway. For example Goya’s dark series, which are housed at the Prado in Madrid, you can’t imagine what these paintings really are through photographs of them. You think you can, but when you stand right in front of them, they convey emotion, compassion, anger and the power of their story and they become real. You have to spend time with the emotion they create inside you afterwards.

The same happens here. There is a main house where she grew up. You enter and the museum begins in these simple, quiet, thick walled rooms. They are filled with paintings, unfinished works and drawings by Frida and Diego. Her studio, which was built in 1946 is grey stone with large walls of paned windows, reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright building, looking out into the expansive garden, through the tree tops.

As you follow along (and not in this order) you pass through the living room, Diego’s bed room – complete with a rifle on the bed, the bright yellow, incredibly charming and homey kitchen. There are rooms of memorabilia, letters, documents and drawings, folk art and clothing. Then there is her studio with large tables and desks that hold trays of old india ink bottles, mashed tubes of oil paints, brushes that hang on the back of the easel, books on art and painting, small iconic and pre-hispanic figures and toys. Her easel is on wheels, her wheel chair set in front of it and her Tehuana embroidered clothing draped over chairs. On the opposite wall there is a glass enclosed book case that spans a long wall, filled with books on Mexican history, art, prehispanic culture, poetry, Marxism, and a large collection of books in English. You are not allowed to take photographs inside, and are closely followed by a combination of guards in uniform and young men and women that look like visitors but are closely watching you.

You end up in a small alcove between her studio and her bedroom where her day bed is wedged, the famous single four poster bed that has a mirror suspended above it, where she painted self portraits and from which hangs small paper mache figures and little dolls. At this point, you have seen a good sense of a life which has been carefully catalogued, photographed, written about and lived.

Across the courtyard you pass through a large opening into another garden and more buildings which house an archive of photographs. You pass through a room with photographs of her mother’s and father’s families, her grandparents, then her own family, then a series of self portraits of her father (a photographer) posing in an intimate series of photographs including a nude of himself and as an old man, a picture that makes you think you would have liked this man. The culmination of it all for me however, was the x-ray of Frida’s spine, in which you can see the large metal plate fused in three places to her bones and you have to look away, it is so painful an image. This, along with seeing the paintings, the drawings, the unfinished pieces, which are my favorites, was touching and the perfect antidote to the cult-like trivialization, however well meaning and powerful, that has formed around her life

CLICK ON THE PHOTO to view the slideshow

There’s more on the town of Coyoacan, the famous Bazaar Sabado in San Angel, two great restaurants, one good and one bad hotel and a slideshow of photos from one of those great big Mexican bakeries in the next post.

© 2009 All Rights reserved Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

Click on the photo of Diego to view the slideshow.

January 13, 2010

The Lorenzo Family

Last weekend we visited Nicolas Lorenzo whose family creates these wonderful retablos. We’ll be having more about this family  and their wonderful naive retablos.  You’ll find all of these and more on the site the week of January 20th.

This family is from the state of Guerrero Mexico, a small village in the rio balsa area where most of the amate style painters live.  Their work is in the style of the amate paintings that you see on bark paper but these are painted on masonite and laquered afterwards.  Most depict dances, village scenes, saints, animals performing human acts, popular figures such as luchador wrestlers and skeletons along with the supernatural. They are wonderful examples of naive folk art at it’s best – by untrained artists, using materials that are found nearby.  The entire family, including the youngest of children paint from an early age.

Here are a few close-ups

© 2010 Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

January 1, 2010

Seven Deadly Sins

In Queretaro, there is a nacimiento in the main plaza – four blocks filled with larger than life Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the three kings bearing gifts, walking along with their elephant and white horse. There’s the annunciation, with Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, a menagerie of animals surrounding the manger, shepherds and towns people, a garden of Eden – not just a little garden but complete with a lake, flamingos, water birds and a naked adam and eve.

On one side there are statues of families breaking pinatas, women in nostalgic Mexican dress in the kitchen cooking, a forest with bears and wolves. But not to be outdone by the worst of them all – the seven deadly sins depicted as super size devils, some with their heads in the ground, only their feet and legs dangling in the air, the rest as the seven deadlies – Greed, Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, as shown in the slideshow below. What can I say except only in Mexico will you see the Virgin Mary with naked Adam and Eve, and the seven deadly sins depicted as devils – and bigger than life at that – in a Christmas nativity.

Click on the Devil to view this community nativity.

The Nativity and the Seven Deadly Sins -- Click on the photo to view the slideshow