Frontera Fund News

Frida and the Angels: Don’t-Miss Art Events in Phoenix

Frida Kahlo

See these exhibits and panel discussion on Latin-American art before they’re gone.

“Think of it as if you’re looking at a family photo album,” says guide Saralou Merrell as we enter the Frida Kahlo – Her Photos exhibit at the Heard Museum.

Locked in a closet in Frida’s lifelong home for 50 years, the collection features 241 photographs taken by Frida, her family, friends, lovers and colleagues.

The photos – on display through February 8 – capture Frida’s tumultuous life and the mythic character she fashioned of herself: Frida with her head in traction after the trolley accident that left her in excruciating chronic pain. Frida lying in bed painting her first works using a customized easel. Frida clothed in Oaxacan regalia that concealed her back brace and polio-withered leg. Frida with her hair shorn short in retaliation for one of husband Diego Rivera’s affairs.

In some photos, Frida has chopped people out, scribbled notes on the back, or kissed the subject with hot pink lipstick.

Frida Kahlo kissed this photo of her husband, Diego Rivera.

Frida Kahlo kissed this photo of her husband, Diego Rivera.

Other photos clearly served as inspiration for her art, like an image of her with a monkey, and one of her lying in bed with her injured back exposed.

Frida with monkey and catTree of hope remain strong







On Sunday, January 31 at 1:30 p.m., the Heard Museum will host a free panel discussion, “Espiritu de Frida: Trailblazers, Pioneers and Innovators of Latin American Art.” Art experts will discuss the indelible impression Frida has left on Latin-American women artists.

Also don’t miss the Heard’s companion exhibit, Las Favoritas de Frida, a display of clothing and crafts that Frida might have loved, chosen by local art group The Phoenix Fridas.


In addition, check out the Phoenix Art Museum‘s only Frida Kahlo painting, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (currently on display in the Western American gallery). Playwright and editor Clare Boothe Luce, who often wintered in Phoenix, commissioned Frida Kahlo to paint a portrait honoring her deceased friend, actress Dorothy Hale. But she didn’t expect Frida to graphically depict Dorothy’s suicide. Clare hated the painting so much she had her own name painted out and gave it away. It arrived mysteriously on the doorstep of the Phoenix Art Museum in 1960. 

Frida painted The Suicide of Dorothy Hale in the style of a retablo, a devotional picture often painted on small sheets of tin or copper. You can see several retablos in the Phoenix Art Musuem’s Masterworks of Spanish Colonial Art  exhibit, which runs through February 28.

One of that exhibit’s most interesting highlights are the painting and carvings of archangels dressed as wealthy Spanish aristocrats and carrying guns. The images make one ponder what messages European colonists were sending to native South Americans: Convert and we will protect you, but disobey and die? Colonialism and greed are sanctioned by God? 

Together, these exhibits offer thought-provoking insights into icons of Latin-American art and culture.