Monday, May 25, 2015

Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life!

The anticipation was killing us. Style Crone was coming to New York and Frida Kahlo was coming to the Bronx. On Sunday, it finally all came together! We met Judith aka Style Crone at Grand Central Station and took Metro North to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx for Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life.  Click here for the NYBG's YouTube about the exhibition.

Of course, we dressed for the occasion. While not historically accurate, we each channeled our inner Frida and wore clothes inspired by her that we think she would have appreciated. Judith wore a wonderful floral silk kimono over a matching man's shirt, beige straw hat by Maeve Carr and red embroidered pumps. Jean wore an Ignatius hat, long black sleeveless voile shirt, accentuated with lots of colorful bakelite and prayer beads. Valerie wore a Japanese tenugui (hand towel) as a head wrap, red polka dot cats' eye sun glasses, shell earrings, deep orange Ivan Grundhal sleeveless dress, Osamu Mita woven throw, Pleats Please blouse, antique ethnographic necklaces, knitted cuffs with Frida's portrait on them (cut from socks), and flats made of Kuna Indian molas.

The New York Botanical Garden's celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo features a recreation of the pyramid outside her Blue House (Casa Azul) with all of the native plants in the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Fourteen of Kahlo's paintings and works on paper highlighting the artist's botanical imagery in her art, focusing on her lesser-known yet equally spectacular still lifes are on display in the Library Building Art Gallery. (Photo below is from a poster at the show.)

The botanical garden itself is a revelation. Walking through the conservatory from the front door through the rainforest and the desert leads you to Casa Azul.   One of the big treats was the staircase that leads to a look at a rainforest canopy.  See if you can spot Judith and Jean. (High resolution photo, so you can enlarge it for a better view.)

It goes without saying that plants and flowers run riot throughout.  Here is the smallest smattering of what we saw.

Called a jade vine, and native to the Philippines, these blossoms look like a collection of green animal claws, but are petal-soft to the touch.

The vibrantly colored Mysore clockvine is native to India.  While wending our way toward the Casa Azul we often had to bend down so as not to disturb plants dangling from above.

No, we didn't accidentally rotate this photo.  This is the way these waxy looking blossoms grow.  So many plants are cheek by jowl that we couldn't always get their names, as with this one.  It also had numerous cousins.  One variety was all the same shade of pink, another had blossoms that pointed downward, with bright red stalks and white tips.

These delicate blooms come from the variegated bleeding heart vine.

This calla lily, growing just before the entrance to the recreated Casa Azul, looks like something plucked from the canvas of one of Kahlo's paintings.

The Garden''s evocation of Kahlo's garden and studio at Casa Azul (Blue House), her lifelong home in Mexico City, brings to life the vibrant colors of the plants and flowers of the artist's native country. Here is the recreation of the famous pyramid at Casa Azul where Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's best known muralists, and Kahlo's husband, displayed pre-Columbian art works. The vibrant blue in the background is the tint of the Blue House. The Garden's Shop in the Garden, in addition to its regular selection of books, cards, gardening tools, and artisanal jams, now features all things Frida, from oven mitts and aprons to books, cards and repros of her paintings printed on large silk scarves. Do make it a destination on your trip! You'll thank us.

There were too many things to see and so little time. Here are two stops on our next trip: At the Britton Rotunda in the Library Building is artist-in-residence Humberto Prindola's recreation of an installation of paper dresses inspired by Kahlo's 1939 double self-portrait The Two Fridas.  (There was an estimated hour wait while we were there.)  The Ross Gallery's "The Mexico City of Frida and Diego" features museums and other sites in Mexico City where Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's artwork and personal collections can be viewed. (Photo below is a shot of one of the posters at the show.)

There we were, in a city of eight million people, at an exhibition thronging with visitors, and we still managed to run into someone we knew.  Sandy Long was dressed in bright botanical colors, perfect for the occasion.

We were not the only ones channeling our inner-Frida on Saturday. This young woman even wore flowers in her hair to match the print in her turquoise top. (Another case of six degrees of separation - we met this same lady on Fifth Avenue at the Easter Parade in April.)

This woman also wore a garland of flowers in her turquoise-tinted hair, and continued the theme with a floral print dress.

And still more flowers intertwined in the hair! And more tropical prints.

We ran into this beautiful young woman by the recreated pyramid.

Turquoise was a popular color. Another woman embraced the look and joyfully wore lots of prints and color to celebrate the show.

This young woman wore a red embroidered cotton top a la Frida.

Another lady in light blue wore a terrific statement necklace with turquoise coral and red sandals.

On our way through the conservatory, we met this lovely lady wearing a fuchsia scarf, top and shoes who was obviously enjoying herself and the exhibition.

This duo was checking out the wonderful selection of merchandise in Shop In the Garden.

For the most part, the men were more sedately dressed, but we have to tip our hats to this gent, whose glasses matched his shirt, and both of which matched matched many of the flowers we saw that day.

Just outside the gift shop, one woman was demonstrating traditional Mexican embroidery, and another was demonstrating traditional backstrap loom weaving, examples of both of which Frida can be seen wearing in her art work.

And just as we were making our way toward the exit, Valerie ran into her friend and fellow textile enthusiast Ann (far right), just arriving with friends.  What are the odds of running into two people you know?!

We got to the platform only a minute or two before the Metro North train pulled into the station. Once we arrived at Grand Central, we took Judith to Cipriani's for a closer view of the wonderful astrological mural on the ceiling of the train station.

We had time for one last toast until we meet again later in the week. Then off we went, having had such a grand time that we decided to savor the moment instead of blogging about it.  (That's why we're posting today.  You know what they say - age has its privileges!)

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We couldn't resist closing with two more fun photos.


  1. So nice to see Judith hanging out with you two. It looks like you had a perfectly splendid day - flowers, Frida and cocktails!

  2. It was so much fun to read your beautifully written post and have the memories of this magical day repeat through photos and commentary. Spending a day with the two of you is always the best of times. Your kindness and generosity always enhance my NYC visits. Thank you from the bottom of my Style Crone heart.

  3. Three of my most beautiful colorful subjects. Your Frida day was simply spectacular. And the outfits out of this world. I posted to my face book and many of my friends say how it put smiles on their faces. A lofty goal! And you have succeeded. Love Eva

  4. Marvelous time, darlings. We are going next week, decked out in Frida Finery. My post will follow.

  5. Ladies….you truly are divine!!!!!!!!



  6. What a fun day! And what amazing clothes and hats you are all wearing!

    I was lucky enough to see the full Frida exhibit here in Toronto last year. It was very interesting.