onokahlo

 

We were supposed to embark upon the Grizzwold vacation this year. I’d planned a few loose routes from here to the Mississippi and back. One had us curving south along the coast, jagging upward for a brief memory lane stroll through Atlanta, down to New Orleans and then northward until we could run the length of Tennessee–from Elvis to Dolly. Plan B had us starting on a northern bend past carved mountainsides and down to Kentucky where we could mooch off relatives. Long story short: Himself took too long to decide and now it’s July.

When we don’t have the kidlet in summer camp I like to work around my job so she experiences something. I set only two goals for the summer, and luckily they both happened in the same city. The kidlet loves art, and what luck that the works of two very diverse and (in)famous women are highlighted in New York right now.

You can see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden now through November 1. What an amazing place – if I lived in NYC I’d become a member in a heartbeat, come every day and sit for an hour just to detox from the planet. The actual “art” part of the exhibit is small compared to the garden displays and recreations of Kahlo’s “Blue House,” but it’s impressive. Frida and I stand on the opposite of a few spectra, but I’ve long admired her talent and confidence. No doubt she’d have much to say about body positivity now.

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

As you walk through the arboretum of the exhibit, you’re overwhelmed by a sense of beauty and peace. I can’t grow a pepper plant to save my life, and Frida was surrounded by all these plants and trees in her home. Think of the care that had to go into maintaining everything. Perhaps there’s something in the collection of cacti like shown above–a prickly personality, a sharp wit, a resilient plant that can survive without water for some time. It’s easy to associate these plants with the artist.

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

The exhibit includes a sculpture representing The Two Fridas, maybe her best known work. The actual painting wasn’t on display–the Garden showed many smaller works but photography was prohibited in that wing. I’ve had discussions with friends about this painting, and the reason behind the exposed hearts…Frida baring all, hiding nothing?

If you get to New York before September 7, you can catch this and the Yoko Ono exhibit at MoMA. I brought the kidlet because she enjoys drawing and I get the impression she wants to do more with it. She may end becoming a cartoonist, and that’s fine. Will be nice to find a use for some of my written content. I’d like to create a comic strip, but I can’t draw a straight line.

The kidlet likes the Beatles, too, and this seemed like a good supplement for her to appreciate. If you go, though, know the exhibit is 90% Yoko – there is an audio room where you can listen to Plastic Ono Band records, and a projection of John Lennon plays on one wall (the “Smile” film).  Everything else displays mostly in white, displays that tie in somewhat to late Beatles lore as you think of how that first meeting at the Indica Gallery in the late 60s might have gone down:

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

IMG_0147

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

Photo: Kat Lively

The last one is the famous ladder leading to the ceiling of Yes. According to legend, John Lennon climbed to the top and held the magnifying glass up to see the tiny affirmation, and a love story began. The ladder doesn’t look like it could hold a person. I probably would have sheared it in half on the third rung :P. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating show if you’re into modern art, and MoMA is one of my favorite stops in the city now. I don’t know if I’ll have another weekend like this, but both shows were well worth the drive.