Tell It Like It Is

Over the weekend, after another rough week at work, The Good Man and I found our way to the big main branch of our city’s library. It was like an awesome haven from the mean old world.

I immediately found my way to the fifth floor where they keep the art books. I needed an infusion of art and creation in my life to erase the financial and business blues of my workweek. I decided I wanted to look at some Frida Kahlo prints. I am a huge fan of Frida.

As I plucked a slim book of her paintings off the shelf, I found another small book hiding behind it. It was a book of letters written by Frida to her friends and family.

I love reading old letters. You learn a lot about who a person was (or is) by reading their handwritten letters.

I had always thought that Frida was so strong, powerful, fierce and uncompromising.

Boy was I wrong. Through her letters, I found her to be very sweet, quite insecure, and almost childlike.

She often would write letters to friends and ask their advice on big life decisions. For example, at one point her husband, Diego Rivera, had a terrible infection in his eye that had spread to the side of his face. She asked a friend, a fellow painter, if he though she should take Diego to New York to see American doctors or stay in Mexico and take the guidance of Mexican doctors.

Now that seems like a pretty big life crisis, something you would want to decide along with your husband and instead she was soliciting, nay begging for, the advice of a friend. She actually did this quite a lot, begged her dear friends to tell her what to do.

I found that so counter to the fierce woman I see through her paintings.

And then, over time, as she got older she did seem to become a lot harder edged. A lot more sarcastic and passive aggressive.

Clearly the philandering ways of her husband and his over bearing need to be controlling had taken a toll on her psyche.

That and years and years of immense pain in her spine, leg, and foot, all massively unresolved injuries from an accident in her teens.

Her physical and mental anguish become so forceful, it drove a little bit of the lightness out of her words. She became more bitter. And so maybe that is the Frida I came to know, the rough around the edges and hard woman who had been hurt too much.

But even then, as I understood how she could come to be that way, I was a bit shocked to read (in the book) a quite long essay that was to accompany an exhibition meant to honor Diego Rivera.

I came across this section and burst out laughing. I mean, wow.

Here, read it and see what you think. She is describing Diego’s physical form from many angles. In this section she refers to his chest:

“Diego’s chest — of it we have to say, that had he landed on an island governed by Sappho, where male invaders were apt to be executed, Diego would never have been in danger. The sensitivity of his marvelous breasts would have insured his welcome, although his masculine virility, specific and strange, would have made him equally desired in the lands of these queens avidly hungering for masculine love.”

Um. Did she just say her husband had moobs? Cuz I think she did.

In another section she describes seeing him naked as looking something like a child frog. Paraphrasing here, she said that his skin takes on a greenish tone and is pale under his clothes and only tan in his face and hands.

Yeah. Green moob guy. Awesome.

This was, I’m sure, taking a bit of her own pound of flesh from him for the years of unkindness. And also a bit of the ol’ anti-bourgeoisie taking the piss out of what might have been a flowery ode to her husband.

I’ll tell you what, that image is sure going to stick with me for a while.

Actually, the whole book will stick with me for a while. The letters so quaint, so childlike and such a deep glimpse into one of my creative heroes. Quite something.

Oh, and she liked to invent words of her own. My favorite was when she would refer to her life or other things that were not working out as expected as fuc-bulous. Oh yes. I can use that. I may have to adopt it myself.

Next up, I have on my bedside table a book of letters by Vincent Van Gogh. He was quite prolific in his letters to his brother, and it is a thick tome. I am both wary and excited to dip in.

Photograph by Martin Munkácsi

Image found here.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos

Feliz Dia de los Muertos! On this day may you remember your loved ones who have passed on. Today I honor all four of my grandparents, my father and my best friend from high school.

May they walk in peace and enjoy a tasty pink cookie and some tequila on their journey.

My sugar skull looks a little more cranky than I had intended.
And yes, I slapped an Instagram filter on there. I don’t care what that says about me.

Oh yes, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love Day of the Dead and all the traditions that go with it.

I also love the art and I love making my own Day of the Dead art too. (may I never forget my New Mexico roots)

Since I haven’t really had my crafting skills on much lately (work and life and no craft space in the new apartment) I was sort of jonesing for some day of the dead art.

All it took was a few office supplies and a really long and incredibly boring conference call.

Much love and peace to all as they remember in their own way.

Happy Weekend to all!!

Photos and drawing Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.

Uh oh

She’s borrowing from the random idea generator again.

Herewith, my list of my ten favorite quotes, in no particular order.

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” – Oscar Wilde

I don’t actually read Oscar, or know much about him. This quote was told to me when I was in high school looking for a quote to go with my senior picture.

You know the drill, we all had to have a quote, our defining statement. I liked the sentiment, so I went with it. My alternate was something about describing the taste of an olive, it was a weird quote. So of course they used that one.

But the Oscar quote has stuck with me.

“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture” – generally attributed to Martin Mull, but source is unclear.

First heard this quote in the little known and way under appreciated movie “Playing by Heart“.

This was before Angelina Jolie was, well, what she is now. She was only sort of known back then and is adorable in this movie. Her character is wacky and everything I wish I could be (including six feet tall and drop dead gorgeous), and she talks about this quote (attributing it to a musician friend), then subs in that “talking about love” is definitely like dancing about architecture.

I don’t know, it’s a quirky line. I like it.

“This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. You got it?!?” – the Skip in Bull Durham.

How many times, as a manager, have I wanted to throw a sack of bats at the feet of my employees and holler at them about being lollygaggers?

The answer is: a lot

There are a lot of life lessons to be learned from the game of baseball. This is a fave quote I remember when I tend to overcomplicate things that should be simply elegant. Like the game of baseball.

“…and when we win this game, we’ll buy a keg of booze, and we’ll drink it to the Aggies ’til we wobble in our shoes…”

That is actually the actual words from the NMSU fight song. It always appealed to me greatly that at an institution of higher education, we were encouraged to, you know, drink.

Our forefathers from 1888 saw the future. They saw it clear. They knew exactly what my alma mater would be.

Makes me proud. : sniff, wipes a tear away :

“Hey, minion! Bring me a beer! And don’t lollygag!”

And by minion, of course, I mean The Good Man. (juuuuuust kidding!)

Speaking of those college days….how about:

“It’s only love when you’re loved in return.”

Ok, sure, it’s a quote from a Steve Wariner song.

But it was said with *meaning* by my best friend, back in college, when I discovered that the guy I’d been dating was cheating on me. It was my first taste of heartache. The guy was truly a cad.

Now that cad has been married to another friend of ours for the better part of twenty years. Proves that sometimes it’s not the boy, it’s just the wrong boy for you.

My bestest friend and I had occasion to recall this conversation recently, with a laugh. This was while recounting the story to my husband.

So all’s well that ends well, I believe.

And speaking of The Good Man…

“To my heart you have the key/It you who set me free/And time will surely show/That our love will grow and grow.” Lyrics from “Positively Meant to Be” by Jimmie Vaughan

The words on the page don’t really have the same impact as they do when heard on top of the low and slow blues guitar sound from Mr. Vaughan (brother of Stevie Ray, totally different style).

It’s a song I sing to my sweetie. I know, I know…too goopy for words. But it’s my song for, or rather about, him.

Ok, let’s ungoop this thing…

“No matter where you go in life after this, it will always be better than Tucson.” – From the movie “Hamlet 2”

Ok, apologies in advance to anyone from Tucson or anyone who actually *likes* Tucson.

I have had several occasions to spend time in Tucson. Not the least of which is that the Colorado Rockies have their Spring Training facility there. In the City of Tucson, I’ve been treated bad, eaten awful food, my friend had her car towed (from an unmarked area) and been lost in muther f-word “downtown” Tuscon with confusing highway markers.

And when, while watching Hamlet 2, they said that line, the beverage I was enjoying came rocketing out of my nose like Ol’ Faithful.

Well said, sir. Well said.

And just to prove I can be fair, I’ll also include:

“Even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque.”

Also a nose geyser line, spoken seriously and rather snidely by Kirk Douglas in the movie Ace in the Hole.

An utterly forgettable movie with an unforgettable line.

Ya gotta be from ABQ to understand it. But you know, there is a lot about Albuquerque that is just soooooooo Albuquerque.

‘Nuff said.

“May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”

If Little Jimmy Dickens wasn’t a poet, I don’t know who is. In fact, country music is ripe with quotable quotes. Country living and cowboys tend to have some colorful descriptors, but that’s a whole other post for another day.

Ok, ok, I’ll end on an inspirational note…or something…

Seems fitting, uplifting. Don’t let those bastards getcha down!

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

Beautifully painful and erudite, all at once.

I’m sure I’m forgetting quotes I adore, but can’t quite access in the ol’ brain matter today.

It happens.

Maybe I need to go out and flap my yapper and make some quotable quotes of my own…..

Sunday with Frida

The Good Man and I had a chance to be up in San Francisco this weekend. The occasion was a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Since June they have had an exhibition of Frida Kahlo‘s art.

I have been a fan of Frida for a while now. Her work so heavily influences any female artist, especially anyone interested in Latino art, and so for me, it was vital I attend this show.

I came in, as we all do, with one set of expectations, that I’m not sure for were met.

But I’ll be thinking about this exhibition for a while.

While at the library the day before we went to the show, I saw a book on the “new fiction” shelf called “Frida’s Bed.” It is one author’s fictional account of Frida’s last thoughts before she died.

So that’s also coloring my view, I suppose.

About the exhibit, however… First and foremost, it was CROWDED. We’re into the waning weeks of the show and I think I’d hoped it wouldn’t be so packed, but I was wrong.

At more than fifty years after her death, Frida is as popular as ever. Moreso, it would seem.

The people were stacked up to see her work, which was both heartening and annoying.

Heartening because many young women were there, and seeing that it’s ok to express your pain, your rage, your upset is important. It doesn’t make you less of a woman. Frida gave good pain, I’ll say that. Sometimes it’s hard to look at her work, it’s emotional and physical pain is so plainly laid OUT there. I admire that, to be honest.

The show was equally annoying because it was damn near impossible to spend any time with the paintings. The queues were insane, and the best you could do was a Chevy Chase “Vacation” style nod at the Grand Canyon, then move on.

This frustrated the heck out of me, because what’s fascinating about Frida’s paintings isn’t what’s apparently obvious, it’s what she’s hidden in the small spaces.

She has secret jokes, or darker images, that she places in her work. Sort of passive aggressive, actually. Both TGM and I had trouble spending the time we needed with each piece, instead shuttled through quickly as the crowd surged behind us.

Many of the paintings were much smaller than I’d imagined them to be. Then again, the famous “Two Fridas” was MUCH larger than I expected, taking up most of one wall.

I took all of it in, thinking I would come out massively inspired to go and paint and release my inner demons. Instead, the story told in all those frames reminded me of a difficult time in my life and a difficult relationship. To say I find parallels between the troubled relationship between Frida and Diego Rivera is to undersell it a bit, but that’s close enough for explanation’s sake, I suppose.

And being far less brave than Frida, I’m unwilling to dissect it here, publicly.

That said, as we came to the end of the exhibit, I ended up in a bit of a dark mood. That was from the remembering. Ultimately, I was also happier and held the hand of TGM a bit tighter. He is a life raft, a parachute, water wings and all other really good metaphors I can’t think of right now for someone who rescued me from the abyss, and gave my life meaning again.

With that in mind, I brought up the question to TGM over lunch…does “art” always have to be sad?

Can I paint a canvas that expresses my joy, the peace in my life now, the exquisite love I have and still be taken seriously as an artist?

I’ve never bought into the fact that misery was a pre-requisite.

Maybe art really is what you say it is…

Anyhow, one way or another, Frida’s work moved me greatly. It will be with me for a long time.