Fall Hill Bead and Gem

Field Trip- The Brooklyn Museum
Frida Kahlo exhibit, Brooklyn Museum

Field Trip- The Brooklyn Museum

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Recently, we had the opportunity to travel down to “The City” to go see the Frida Kahlo exhibit that’s going on now at the Brooklyn Museum. Since we had our good friends visiting from Ohio, we decided to go for the whole experience. Off to the train station! I have a thing for the exquisite antique light fixtures in the old train stations around here, and Poughkeepsie had a treat for me:

Antique chandelier, Poughkeepsie train station
Antique chandelier at the Poughkeepsie train station

After a leisurely train ride down the Hudson, we arrived at Grand Central and took the 4 over to Brooklyn, where we arrived at the Brooklyn Museum. The weather was pretty damp and cold, but the excitement of actually pulling this plan together kept spirits high!

The Brooklyn Museum

The exhibit, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving,” was an awe-inspiring collection of incredible art and marvelous personal items from Frida Kahlo’s life and artistic career. Frida Kahlo de Riviera was a visionary artist whose work explored questions of identity, gender, class and race in post-colonial Mexican society. She was a part of the Mexicayotl movement, which focused on reviving the indigenous traditions of the Aztecs of ancient Mexico. Both her painting style and personal style was heavily influenced by Mexican folk art. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed, so I don’t have any personal photos to share. But, luckily there are some beautiful photos out in the public domain, so here are some of the things we saw (thanks to the Brooklyn Museum’s website):

photograph of Frida in New York by Nickolas Murray

Frida was famous for painting portraits, often involving her husband Diego Rivera, but her self portraits are my personal favorites:

Frida Kahlo, “Self Portrait with a Braid”, 1941

A terrible bus accident left Frida confined to her bed when she was 18 years old in 1925. To pass the time, she taught herself to paint. Over the years, medical problems associated with the accident made plaster body casts necessary from time to time. She famously decorated these casts, as seen here:

plaster body cast, painted by Frida Kahlo

Part of the Mexicayotl movement that Frida embraced was a return to traditional forms of decoration, like this embroidery on a cotton Mazatec huipil that belonged to her:

one of Frida’s many beautiful hand embroidered outfits

Also on display, and of course of particular interest to me, was her pre-Columbian beaded jewelry collection. You’ll just have to trust me when I say it was fabulous!

“Infinite Blue”

While we were there, we checked out the other current exhibition, “Infinite Blue.” Blue has historically been associated with power, wealth and beauty-think Cleopatra and her Lapis Lazuli eye shadow. The theme of this exhibition was the use of the color blue in art, from ancient to modern times. There were a variety of objects on display, from jewelry to textiles, as well as items for everyday use:

carnelian, lapis and gold beads from Iraq, circa 2600-2500 B.C.E
inlaid turquoise and silver women’s ear pendants, Tibet circa 17th-18th century

Lapis Lazuli is among the oldest of the commercially mined gemstones, and it found its way into a lot of objects in ancient cultures, such as this ceremonial Lapis mortar and pestle:

Lapis lazuli mortar and pestle, 19th century or earlier

Lapis was also used in more ornate decorative items, like this intricately carved incense burner and cover:

lapis lazuli incense burner and cover, 18th-19th century. Qing dynasty, China

There was also quite a bit of Roman glass from different parts of the world:

Roman glass shallow bowl, late 1st century B.C.E.
Flask and ewer (large pitcher), Eastern Mediterranean, late 6th-4th centuries B.C.E.

Seed bead work always impresses me. The detail on this Ojibwa Bandolier Bag was absolutely incredible:

Ojibwa Bandolier Bag, White Earth Reservation, Minnesota. Late 19th-20th century

This piece, “East Wind” by Ran Hwang caught my attention almost immediately. From far away, it’s simply a rooftop:

“East Wind,” Ran Hwang. Beads and buttons on wood, 2012

…but when you examine it closer, you see it’s actually made up of thousands of buttons and beads!

closeup of the beads and buttons

Once we finished looking at everything bright and blue, we decided it was time to refuel, so on the advice of an old friend (thanks Devon!) we headed over to Chavela’s for some killer Mexican food. On the way to $3 happy hour tacos (and happy hour margaritas) we spotted just a little bit more Frida …

Frida street art
walking off those happy hour margaritas…I mean tacos!

After that, it was time to catch the train back to Poughkeepsie. We had just enough time to get back to Grand Central, grab a coffee and have a few Seinfeld moments before the train headed out. I would go ahead and rate this field trip adventure an 11 out of 10! I seriously don’t know why we don’t do this more often, how lucky we are to be so close to the action of the Big Apple. And how fortunate we are to get to escape back to our Crystal Valley when we’re all done 🙂

thanks New York, see you again soon!
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