Showing posts with label Frida Kahlo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frida Kahlo. Show all posts

Sunday, September 03, 2023

La Ofrenda Sagrada


I liked it as soon as I saw it. Amy was already smitten. We were in a gallery called Peyote People that represents art special to Huichol Indian people of southern Mexico. It is across the street from Boulenc, a bakery and restaurant we visit frequently to buy the best baked bread in Oaxaca. We had bought bread and decided to drop in to the gallery on our return to our car. Beaded art, yarn paintings, textiles, ceramics and wood carvings adorned the area from top to bottom. Amy had stopped in her tracks in front of a yarn painting hanging high on a wall. I came to her side and we admired it together. Huichol yarn paintings are made with colorful yarn meticulously glued to board and depict symbols important to the culture. Amy was especially touched by the motif of corn, feathers, a deer, the sun, and peyote plants, skillfully laid out in yarn of fantastic colors. We bought the piece. 

It is called “La Ofrenda Sagrada” meaning The Sacred Offering, by Jesus Jimenez. We hung it in our kitchen/breakfast nook area, over a bench where my Frida Kahlo painting hung previously. La Ofrenda Sagrada is bright and magical, perfect for its place in our Mexican home.

The Kahlo has moved upstairs, over our bed.

Amy said how much she likes having the Frida Kahlo over our bed now. Nothing was there before. I made the painting, copying Frida’s earliest self portrait and putting a skeleton next to her. In the upper left corner is her quote: “I want to be inside your darkest everything.”

Sunday, October 23, 2022


After we moved to Mexico Amy wanted a dog. Not me. I had not owned a dog for over twenty years because I traveled frequently for extended periods. 

When I met Amy in 2017 she had an old chihuahua named Unica. It died within a year. We married in 2018 and moved to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2019. Here, especially outside the city, many destitute animals wander around neglected. Three adopted us. It was because we pitied them and fed them. After the first two I told Amy not to show compassion any more. But a starving brown dog was too much for her to look at⏤and then there were three. One was murdered by a roaming alpha male that asserts himself over the vicinity. One we care for cannot be touched. Each has his own set of fears.

These dogs came to us. But in her heart, Amy wanted the dog that is considered an emblem of Mexico, called Xoloitzcuintle. I had never seen one before moving to Mexico. At first sight I found them rather repulsive. Hairless, wrinkled, with often a tuft of colored hair (moica ) shooting up between their eyes onto the forehead. Amy had an attraction to the Xoloitzcuintle. Maybe because she is a person who deeply feels cultural roots. The name is from the Nahuatl language. Nahua people primarily live in central Mexico and comprise the largest indigenous group. The Aztecs and Toltecs are descendants.

Famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had several  Xoloitzcuintles. Frida's favorite was “Mr. Xolotl,” after the Aztec canine deity and guardian of the underworld.

Amy began following online posts about Oaxaca Xoloitzcuintle. We almost bought one, but it was just before a two month trip to the east coast and Europe. While we were gone, our house sitters took care of feeding the “adopted” dogs that showed up at the backdoor each day.

It happened quickly. Amy saw on Facebook that the breeder here in Oaxaca had a puppy for sale. It was available because the people who had asked for it had not responded to phone calls. We went to have a look, meeting at a nearby coffee shop. The breeder, Enrique, arrived late. Opening the front of his jacket, two big ears popped out, then a little face with inquisitive eyes. With a half hour it was done. We drove home with our Xoloitzcuintle. It will be a medium sized female. 

So far so good. Her name is Malinalli, a day in the Aztec calendar associated with the god Patecatl. Patecatl is associated with medicine, healing, and fertility. She is the most intelligent animal I have ever had. Curious, attentive, playful and sometimes obstreperous. She trains quickly.

Amy is her favorite. 

I call her Molly.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Inside Your Darkest Everything

It started a couple of years ago when I made an oil painting of a young Frida Kahlo,_(Mexican,-6 July 1907 – 13 July 1954)with a skeleton whispering in her ear and wrapping his arm around her shoulder. I copied her own self-portraither first of many, then added a skeleton and a quote of hers: “I want to be inside your darkest everything.” I have tried my hand at painting skeletons and find that I like it. 

Amy and I have lived in our home in Oaxaca, Mexico going on one year. There are many festivities during the year, but undoubtedly the biggest, most famous, is Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, that occurs at the beginning of February. Significantly it is time for prayer and remembrance of friends and family members who have died. Its universally observed in Mexico, but also regions with large Mexican populations. In Oaxaca, skeletons and skulls are widely depicted as emblems of death and afterlife, and can be seen year around on walls.

This past year, as Dia de Muertos approached, I had an idea for a painting with skulls. With a bit of trepidation I began work on it. After overcoming some negative emotions, I continued until it was finished. Standing back, I liked it very much and determined not to sell it. It is called "Memento Mori", meaning an object serving as a warning or reminder of death, such as a skull.
My neighbor Mayolo stepped into the picture when he made a fantastic tin frame for me, complete with skulls, crossbones and roses. 
Recently Mayolo made another masterpiece frame for my next muerto painting. It has sculptures and engravings with incredible filigree work in tin. At the top are two miniature violins with exquisite detail.

It seems I am in a process of making a series of muerto paintings.
The one to the left is my latest and almost finished. Many ideas come to me. 

Twenty one years ago my daughter died of cancer. It has taken me this long to make a painting that includes death as protagonist.

Sunday, November 28, 2021


Xolo, (pronounced in English sho-low) is a dog breed developed by Mexico’s early indigenous peoples more than 3,000 years ago. It is famous as a hairless type dog historically revered by Aztec people and others. Once popular, it almost went extinct after the Spanish invasion. Apparently they did not like it and it lost favor. But indigenous people insured its survival and today it is having a burst of popularity as a symbol of authentic Mexican culture. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera owned several, as well as, famous Mexican artist, Francisco Toledo. Xolos are depicted in sculptures and paintings.

For most of my life dogs have been companions. But for the last twenty years I have been without. Owning a dog and traveling do not mix. At one point I was gone a year. Other times for months. 

Now, Amy and I live in Mexico. Amy wants a dog. A neighbors pet shows up every day at our backdoor, but he always goes away. Amy has come to adore Xolos  for their unique appearance and demeanor. Also for their spiritual symbolism, (in ancient times, Xolos were often sacrificed and then buried with their owners to act as guides to the soul on its journey to the afterlife. They have been found in burial sites of both the Maya and the Toltec). 

I have to agree that they are different.
I have never been fond of hairless dogs, but could grow to like and love one I suppose.

We found a four year old Xolo here in Oaxaca called Pepe who is available. He has been well cared for by a man who is a dog lover and trainer. Jorge has a pack of animals he dotes on. 

We have had an initial meet and greet. Amy has been researching possible names from the ancient Mexican language called Nahuatl. We like two especially: Tochitli (rabbit) and Potchli (smoke). 

Looks like the next step is to bring Pepe home with us for a couple weeks and see how we like each other.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Secret

 “I want to be inside your darkest everything.” -Frida Kahlo

The idea for making a painting of Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 6 July 1907 Р13 July 1954) came to me after I watched the movie of her life; simply called Frida. Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek played Frida and the movie is brisk, engaging and colorful. I watched it at home with my wife Amy Córdova.

Amy and I recently visited Mexico City and went to places that Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera left an indelible mark upon. Rivera has immense murals in various places in the city. Kahlo’s family home is now a museum.

One of the highlights for us was visiting Museo De Arte Moderno, and seeing a seminal work by Kahlo, called The Two Fridas. It is a big painting—almost six feet square. To stand in front of it is almost breathtaking. Kahlo’s fame grew rapidly after the 1960’s and now this artwork is iconic.

I researched Frida’s work and chose a painting she made early in her life, just before her terrible accident that left her crippled and in pain. It is called Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress. She made it in 1926 when nineteen years old. I copied it exactly and then put in the skeleton, as if embracing her and whispering in her ear, or about to kiss her cheek. It symbolizes death that speaks to her.

Just before she died at the age of 47, she wrote “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”

At the top:
 "The Secret" oil on linen, 24 x 30 inches, by Steven Boone
Limited edition print available. Click here: Frida

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hasta Luego Mexico!

Goodbye Mexico, until we meet again . . . hasta luego!

As the Grateful Dead said, “What a long strange trip its been.”

Tonight we board a plane at the Mexico City Airport and fly overnight to London, then board a flight to Madrid. We board again and fly to Granada.

To taste Mexico City, imagine if you will boarding in the middle of the “historico” center. The place is called “Chill Out Flats” and has high ratings on . The owner and his mom speak good English and rent out five apartments in an office building with security. Breakfast is served every day.

A walk to the National Gallery of Art is about two blocks. Along the way, next to a perfume shop, a queue of young people wait to enter a museum of torture (Museo de la Tortura). The place with the masterpieces of art has no line.

Taxi’s are ubiquitous but beware of being overcharged. One day a driver refused to take our money. We could not figure it out until later when the maid at our hotel brought our clean laundry to our room and also refused to take our money. Turns out a bank machine had delivered us fake bank notes. Oh well, the mariachi musicians are out on Garibaldi plaza playing old time Spanish favorites for anyone who stops to listen. A few dirty songs are tossed in that make the young girls blush.

Streets are full of shops and some districts are known for perfumes, others for clothes; including blocks full of shops dedicated only to gorgeous, voluptuous wedding dresses or white baptismal clothes for children. Families arrive in preparation of big domestic events, then linger and choose.

Walking on streets is a carnival, day and night. Musicians play for change, as do organ grinders and young children strumming guitars or pumping accordions.

Frida Kahlo is everywhere—on the sides of buses, adorning posters and graffiti walls. Her lover and husband,  Diego Rivera, is also prized by Mexico. His immense murals are to be seen in museums and government buildings. After the Rockefellers paid him to make an immense mural in New York City, the subject matter was communist, celebrating workers rights and later destroyed. So Rivera made it again in Mexico City where astounded visitors at the Bellas Artes Museum can stand entranced by its grandeur and passionate appeal to rights for the common man.

The Museum of Anthropology is free, and a rich experience cataloging the earliest beginnings of human culture in Mesoamerica. The botanical park is across the street, near the Museum of Modern Art and the Rufino Tamayo museum. In the little park out front men dressed in Aztec regalia climb a giant pole then begin spiraling down, their ankles tied to ropes, in sweeping circles playing flutes and beating drums on the descent back to earth.  It is called “Danza de los Voladores” (Dance of the Flyers).

I have thought more than once that I want to live in Mexico City. Amy too. We can be so creative and the crazy ideas flow freely.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


2012, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches
Self-Portrait, 2007
Many famous artists have made self-portraits. Vincent VanGogh (Dutch, 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) made 22 in just two years. The Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo  (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) produced over fifty. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when scholars began to study Rembrandt Van Rijn (Dutch, 15 July 1606[1] – 4 October 1669), they were surprised to discover that he had painted himself on at least forty occasions, and had etched himself thirty-one times, and made a handful of drawings.
Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

I love to look at self-portraits. They are always inquisitive, and take a bit of boldness. After all, how many people can look at themselves in the mirror for hours—even days on end. It can be daunting, looking at oneself so closely and honestly. My first attempt was when I was a student at The Maryland Institute, College of Art, and my painting class was given the assignment to do a self-portrait. I spent sixty hours trying to get it right before I finally succeeded.
Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat 1887

The history of mirrors is a fun subject, and is the outcome of man’s craving to see himself, and know how he looks on the outside. In early times, crude mirrors were made of flattened, polished metal that showed reflections. Then, in Venice, Italy, during the 16th century, a method of backing a plate of flat glass with a thin sheet of reflecting metal came into widespread production. The invention was so fantastic and special, that it was a closely guarded secret.

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait-1660

In the field of photography, the contemporary artist Cindy Sherman (American, born January 19, 1954) is famous for her series of self-portraits. In them, she assumes a wide range of roles. Her prints are among the highest paid for photographs.

Cindy Sherman

This past week, I found a few self-portraits in my studio that were done within the past five years. I have re-worked them, even though my face has changes somewhat.
Wikipedia has a great article including plenty of pictures about self-portraits: