Happy birthday, Frida Kahlo!

Today marks the 107th anniversary of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s birthday. She was born in Mexico City on July 6, 1907. I’ve written many times about Frida Kahlo, visited the Museo Frida Kahlo—also known as La Casa Azul—in Mexico City, and admired Frida’s work in books, museums around the world and online. To say I am a fan of Frida Kahlo is probably an understatement. I try to visit La Casa Azul each time I visit Mexico City and explore the streets of Coyoacán, where she once walked too.

On one of my recent visits, my father-in-law took a photo of me in front of La Casa Azul, which I’ve printed and framed to have a little piece of Frida at home. If you’ve never been to the museum, you can take a virtual visit online of the Museo Frida Kahlo.

Maura Wall Hernandez of theothersideofthetortilla.com in front of Museo Frida Kahlo, La Casa Azul in Mexico City… 

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Wordless Wednesday: Tengo alas pa’ volar

In December 2012 during a visit to Mexico City for the holidays, I had a chance to once again visit La Casa Azul, the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, which is now the Museo Frida Kahlo. I visited specifically to see a new exhibit called “Las apariencias engañan: los vestidos de Frida Kahlo” (which runs through January 31, 2014 and is a must-see exhibit for any serious Frida fan).

In the museum, there are several displays of Frida Kahlo’s personal journals, filled with artwork between the pages of her thoughts. There’s a famous quote of Frida’s from one of her personal journals which reads: “Pies para qué los quiero si tengo alas pa’ volar.”

It means: “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.” As I flew over Ciudad Universitaria in early January on my way back home to Chicago, I snapped this photo of one of my favorite views of the city and added the words.

Frida Kahlo quote "Pies para qué los quiero si tengo alas pa' volar"

  • Do you have a favorite Frida Kahlo quote? Share it with me in the comments below!

10 things to love about Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo

The tiles on the wall at the Museo Dolores Olmedo read: “By the example of my mother, professor Maria Patiño Suarez, widow of Olmedo, who always told me: ‘Share all you have with those around you.’ I leave this house with all my collections of art, the product of my life’s work, so the people of Mexico can enjoy it.” —Dolores Olmedo Patiño

Last year on a visit to Mexico City during the holidays, I spent a special day with friends exploring a few places I had never been before. Thanks to the abundance of cultural activities the city has to offer, there’s always something new to discover. I was thrilled to hear that the Museo Dolores Olmedo was on the itinerary they planned since I’m a big Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera fan.

Dolores Olmedo Patiño, also known to many as Doña Lola, was an aggressive collector and patron of the arts and is still revered today as one of the biggest individual benefactors and promoters of Mexican art and culture. At age 17, she met Diego Rivera by chance in an elevator at the Ministry of Public Education when he was still working on the murals there (that can still be seen today), and he ended up asking her to model for him. According to the museum, she modeled in nearly 30 nude sketches and then was the subject of other later paintings by Rivera. After separating from her husband, British journalist Howard Phillips (whom she married in 1935), the well-to-do single Olmedo made a career as a partner in a construction materials firm in the late 1940s. In the mid-1950s, she reconnected with Rivera and eventually became his benefactor, caretaker and eventually, executor of his estate and that of Frida Kahlo.

In the early 1960s Olmedo acquired Hacienda La Noria, a 16th-century Spanish colonial hacienda located in Xochimilco (a neighborhood in the south of Mexico City). At the time she acquired the property, it was a shell of its original state and so she set out on a mission to restore and preserve the hacienda. In the late 1980s, Olmedo announced plans to convert her hacienda into a museum, which opened in September 1994. Olmedo passed away in 2002 but her legacy still lives on in this charming museum she left behind for all to admire just as intended.

Here are my top ten reasons to visit the Museo Dolores Olmedo
the next time you’re in Mexico City… 

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¡Hoy es el cumpleaños de Frida Kahlo!

Today marks the 104th anniversary of the birthday of my favorite Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo!

If you’re not familiar with Frida’s life, work, or the famous Casa Azul, you can read more about them on the Museo Frida Kahlo website (in English). And if you’re ever visiting Mexico City, Casa Azul is one of the places you absolutely must visit.

It’s a magical place where you can feel her presence in just about every room and in the garden as well.

At the time I last visited Casa Azul, a stunning and thought-provoking private collection of photographs of Frida, Diego and their family and friends, entitled “Frida Kahlo: Sus Fotos,” was on display and many of the photographs were taken by Frida herself. It was an incredibly interesting glimpse into her life and how things looked from her point of view. You can read more about the photo exhibition, which ran through December 2010, on the museum’s website (in Spanish).… 

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Mexico City: my visit to Casa Azul

the corner of calle Londres & Allende in Coyoacán

At 247 calle Londres, where Londres meets Allende in a colorful old part of Mexico City called Coyoacán, lies the Casa Azul – the place where Frida Kahlo once lived and that is now a museum in her honor. I imagine that the blue walls both inside and out have probably been repainted several times over to maintain the vibrant shade of cobalt blue that I’ve never quite seen replicated outside of Mexico City, but I still had this eerie feeling when I stepped inside like I was stepping back in time. It’s a feeling I often get when visiting Mexico City – and in some strange way, it’s one of the reasons it feels like home to me. I had to suppress the urge to touch the paint, as if I might be lucky enough that a little bit would rub off and I could take a little piece of that cobalt blue home to Chicago with me.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve actually traveled to Mexico City by now, but the one thing I haven’t lost track of is how many historical and cultural places I still haven’t yet visited. Until a few weeks ago, Frida’s Casa Azul was one of them. I’d passed by it before, both walking and driving, on my way to the mercado in Coyoacán. Someday, I’ll visit every last one on my list. But this day was dedicated to Frida.

view of Frida’s bedroom, studio and library from the garden

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Frida!

Frida Kahlo

Today, July 6, marks the 103rd birthday of one of Mexico’s most famous female artists of all time: Frida Kahlo. Born in Mexico City in 1907, this talented woman is also one of the most influential artists of Latin American descent of the twentieth century. Frida, who became well-known in her teenage years, would later marry another famous Mexican artist, Diego Rivera – who was also 21 years her senior.

I know I haven’t posted lately, mostly due to technical glitches that have prevented me from moving my site over to a self-hosted space and implementing a new design to make your experience at The Other Side of The Tortilla a much richer one. But I couldn’t let dear Frida’s birthday pass without any kind of fanfare.

"Las Fiestas de Frida y Diego: Recuerdos y Recetas"

You see, to me, Frida is much more than just a painter. Among many other things, Frida was also a cook. On my last trip to Mexico City, I visited a local bookstore where I scored a copy of a book I’d been trying to find for more than a year, to no avail. After I was elated to find not one, but several, copies of the book I had been coveting for so long, I began perusing the shelves for other books that I’d undoubtedly be unable to find at home in the U.S. or on Amazon. I spotted a navy blue spine in the stack that said “Las fiestas de Frida y Diego” – and given my curiosity and lack of a schedule to be anywhere any time soon, I sat down among the stacks of books and paged through what was to become one of my favorite cookbooks. I sat there paging through it, soaking up the images and the stories for more than a half hour.

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