Monday, March 27, 2017

Thunderbird by Canadian Painter, M.L.Holton

... Exploration & experimentation are main-stays of what I do as an artist  ...  Trying new things, especially when painting, means exploring new tools and the unknown to investigate a medley of thoughts and feelings. This particular effort is a bit crude, but, to my eye, it has huge potential. ... Starting with a ruby red undercoat, then applying a layer of metallic paint, then dabbing on coloured dots with the back-end of a paintbrush to outline a suggestive bird-in-flight, then letting strong LIGHT play all over the surface, well, wow, YES, I am liking it. Cumulatively, it creates for me a compelling & evocative untold story: one of quiet power, strength, ephemera, that whispers of Time, both ancient & modern. - All of it inspires me to reach higher, pursue farther, get further ... enjoy.

Thunderbird, composite,  by Canadian artist, M.L.Holton
If interested in purchase, kindly contact the artist direclty for size & price. Currently, it is unframed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


... the weather is erratic these days, to be sure, BUT there is solid warmth in that Sun now, even if the temperature is still hovering below freezing ... Courage Comrades! It's a comin'!!!
Lake Ontario Beach Strip by M.LHolton

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Granny Paints: New Short Story - by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Photograph by Donald Marsh.
Author's preamble: I have a collection of short stories that I dip into from time to time, to consider my own evolving points of view, my progress and my craft ... This little gem of a story is based on a period of time I spent with Winifred Marsh, (wife of Donald Marsh, an Anglican missionary assigned to Eskimo Point during the 1930s, who later became 'Bishop of the Arctic'.)  I was helping her collate his early photographs of northern peoples and their region  ...

During those long days, I discovered Winifred to be a kind, thoughtful, charming, sturdy, insightful and inspiring little woman.  For my contributing efforts, she gave me several of Donald's images, (sample shown.)  I cherish them to this day.  Her 'story' - re-written into this quasi-fictionalized account - has greater resonance as I grow older. Elders, from any culture, really are one of our most precious natural resources. RESPECT. 

Granny Paints
           She had said dinner at 5 pm.
           At 82 years of age, she could call dinner at any time she liked, so I had said, ok.
           I arrived a little early, as usual, around 4:30, with the mandatory strawberry and rhubarb pie carefully tucked into my bulging carry bag. I had also picked up a half-pint of Haagan Das vanilla ice cream. I rang the doorbell and waited. She took a long time to answer. Her voice squeaked from the other side, “Just a minute.” Five minutes passed before I heard the latch turn, and she said, “OK. Give the door a push.”
            Ah Winifred. To see you thus. Bent over double, world weary and worn, but ever always beaming from eye to eye with your impish generous grin. We greet warmly and I see that your eyes are clear and bright today. Winifred. Winnie. Win. I evoke your name to remind myself that these crystal moments are the best gifts.
           You are weak. I can see that every movement is a struggle for you. You are using both your canes today. Our eyes acknowledge the gnawing of age but we both put on a brave face. We joke. We tease each other. You are too weak to make the dinner, but this too is understood and also unspoken. I order you to sit down while I rummage in the kitchen for this and that. I move briskly, efficiently, and make periodic dramatic gestures to entertain you. To please your good eyes. You, lover of Life, remark on my new hairdo and shimmering silk blouse. I push buttons on the microwave and remark how one must tackle high-tech fearlessly. You smile. And we both remember stories from your youth: those years in the North, without stove, sink or refrigerator.
           On the counter I see that you have managed to prepare a small salad of sliced avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, carrots with an assorted mixture of salad greens. I know that it may have taken you over an hour to prepare. You would have had to remove the vegetables from the fridge, wash them, cut them, pull down the serving dish, and then arrange the items artistically. You did this for me.
           As we sat down to dine at the table by the window, I leaned over and put a cushion behind your back for comfort. You rubbed your legs and said the arthritis was worse than ever. We chatted amicably about nothing. And when I rose to get the pie and ice-cream for dessert, you are childishly happy and whisper conspiratorially as you pick up your fork, “I’m not supposed to have pie…” Our old secret. Later, you insist I have a small tumbler of brandy. You don’t drink, never have. I retrieve the bottle from under the cupboard and pour myself a stiff one, then lean back, and listen, as you tell me yet another tale of our family history.
           You are telling me a new story about Eskimo Point up on Hudson Bay. How my father and your son, Donald, had found the old bull seal while out trapping with my grandfather and your husband, Archie. You remembered the day like it was yesterday. And in the telling your hands drift to the tabletop to fidget with the white tablecloth.

           The sky had been uncommonly bright and clear that day, the blue so remarkably blue that you had spontaneously dubbed it a colour from your paint box ‘Robin Eggshell Blue’.
            Archie had been out walking and checking the trap-line on the bluff with his son Donald tagging along. The North Sea was quiet with a gentle north-eastern breeze lapping the shore. The beach pebbles glistened like forgotten pearls fallen from Sedna’s throat. The lime-green sea grass flickered rhythmically imitating flapping bed linen.
           Archie was bent over a trap, busy, while Donald was idling about, twisting a braid of sea grass, when they first heard it. The breezy blissful scene was pierced by a startled screeching scream. Donald scanned the shoreline. Half a mile away, down on the rocks, a large bull seal was struggling inside the captive restraints of a mangled net. Plastic red and white buoys clattered against its rolling sleek body. Another ungodly belly wail sent the ever-present terns and seagulls skyward.
           Archie and Donald ran down and tried to grab hold of the bulky mess but that old bull barked and struggled furiously against their intrusive awkward hands. Archie told Donald to stay put, he was going to get his tranquilizing gun at the camp and he ran off. Donald stood off, bewildered by the moaning creature. He tried to think what to do. The seal heaved its heavy body again in its never-ending struggle to set itself free and as it did so a shard of entangled grappling iron jammed further into its already bloodied side. The tortured yelp was unbearable.
           Donald ran forward to the seal with his outstretched hands to pull out the rod. As he approached the bull turned on him and roared in anger. Donald fell down backwards onto the beach pebbles and burst into frustrated tears. He slowly began to crawl over the stones towards the bull seal extending his bruised hands. “Please, please, let me help you.” His own murmurs of pain punctuated the moaning groans of that majestic dying beast. Tentatively, gently, Donald placed his small hand through the netting onto the side of the heaving animal. This unusual child-caress momentarily stilled the wounded creature and Donald was able to move his hand carefully to the rod. He paused for a moment, speaking softly, then, with a strength he didn’t know he had, he pulled the rod clear and clean from the belly of the bull.  Blood gushed out at the boy. The giant sea slug convulsed in a painful spasm and Donald yelled in terror as the mammoth deadweight crushed down upon him. He lost sight of the sky.
           By the time Archie returned with the gun he could not see Donald anywhere. He glanced back over the ridge to the trap line. He briefly thought how timid his little son was.
           Archie turned and shot skillfully into the still moaning bull seal. He then slowly approached the now inert mangled mess. When the seal lay perfectly still, hardly breathing, he bent over the creature to roll off the entanglement of buoys and net.
           It was then that he first saw Donald’s blood covered hand holding the metal shard extruding from under the bull’s belly. Frantically, and with a ferocious strength, he heaved off the half-ton carcass. The buoys clattered forward onto the rocks.
           He gingerly lifted up the limp body of his only son. “God, dear God, not my boy!” He carried Donald over to the embankment, and laid him down softly on the sea grass. As he wiped the warm blood off Donald’s ashen face he saw that he was still breathing. Archie placed his big hands onto the boy’s small chest and administered a clumsy CPR all the while praying. “God, dear God, no.”

           Winifred paused and glanced out the window to the early night sky. She watched the clouds move for a moment, then turned and looked at me, “You know, Archie, your grandfather, wasn’t, and never was, much of a religious man.” I nodded slowly. I knew that.
           “Anyway,” she said, brushing the tablecloth …

           Donald finally sputtered to life, choking and frightened. He gazed up into the eyes of his ever-loving father and said, “Did we save him, Dad?”

           Winifred gave a gentle cough. Her sad sweet smile met my all-seeing eyes.
           Quietly she said, “Your father was a strong little boy, Ruth. Much stronger than his own father ever believed.” She rubbed the top of her legs. I nodded slowly again and watched her age.
           “I’m sorry dear heart,” she continued again after another long pause, ” But I’m getting a little tired now. That has to be enough for today.”

           I helped her from her chair and asked if she wanted me to stay until she was re-settled in her room. No, no, she said, just come back next week, maybe we can take a little walk outdoors. I promised her we would walk the tree lane behind the parking lot if she felt up to it. The yellow crocuses were just starting to push up, new spring shoots were bursting forth. I could come a bit earlier on Saturday, I said.
           “O’ goodie! ” she exclaimed, as she struggled forward on her canes, “I’ll bring my paints!”  And I said, “Yes Granny, that’s a good idea. Bring your paints.”


Granny Paints: Short Story - Copyright - Margaret Lindsay Holton. 
Contact the artist for reproduction. / Photograph by Donald Marsh, Private Collection of M.L.Holton

Saturday, February 25, 2017

CANADADA: TAKE TWO - CD Album, Spoken Word & Garageband Antics by Canadian Artist, M.L.Holton

Canadian Artist, MLHolton - Spoken Word & Garageband Antics

35 Tracks of Potent MLH Poetry fused with her Electropop Jive!
Yup, 65 minutes of SERIOUS FUN!

 Limited Sesqui-Centennial Release - ONLY 75 Copies! 

(You can pick up a copy over there too. And even become a VIP member!)  

RELEASED NOON, March 15th, 2017.

The LAST FIVE YEARS: New Paintings by M.L.Holton - BOOK

Please to announce the release of a new book publication: 
The LAST FIVE YEARS: New Paintings, by Canadian Artist, M.L.Holton
Double page spread sample 1.
Double page spread sample 2.
 The LAST FIVE YEARS: New Paintings 
by Canadian Artist, M.L.Holton
Just under 100 new images, in a lovely 9x11 hardcover book. 
Published by MLH Productions/Acorn Press Canada
Accepting Orders NOW!

Thanks for supporting my work!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Series: Mountain Studies - New Paintings by M.L.Holton

I've been thinking a lot about mountains lately, as a natural 'form': how they tower above us, yet draw their vitality from below (like volcanoes, or mountain ridges that are the result of massive shifting geo-plates).

Mountain Study - HOPE - by M.L.Holton / acrylic on board / FOR SALE
Humans engage with these 'forms' in a variety of different emotional ways, either with veneration (appealing to hope and lofty sentiments of aspiring majesty etc,) or with fear (of a greater unknown, an object forbidding and insurmountable, of threatening power etc.)

I want and need to explore this further ...

I'll be drawing on my past experiences of time spent in & around the 'new' mountains of British Columbia and Alberta, first as a teen and then as an older woman. And I'll be considering too the 'older' mountains of Quebec & Ontario, those old rollers who lack the sharp edges of the West.

Mountains BECKON ... they draw us to them.

Mountain Study - Prospecting - by M.L.Holton / acrylic on board - FOR SALE
My preferred tool for this exploration is a trowel, or painter's spatula - with a very sharp flat edge to 'carve' and 'excavate'  paint. Inherent is this idea is the notion of 'prospecting' - or hunting - for minerals, gold, or food and water - hunting for nourishment - literal and metaphysical ...

(If interested in the above works, let me know.
For now, I'm not framing anything.)

UPDATE, March 27th. 
Have finished the triptych - with a gold leaf 'vein' running through all 3 boards.
I will be framing only the centre board ... 

Triptych - Mountain Core - Acrylic with gold leaf, by M.L.Holton, 2017
Centre panel - Triptych - Mountain Core, by Canadian painter, M.L.Holton

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Frozen Goose, Canadian Film - One Year Later

One Year Later - Final scene location for The Frozen Goose film
One year ago today, after nine months of rehearsals, the local cast & crew dove in for an intense 6 days of film-making in North Burlington, Milton and at Westfield Heritage Village in southern Ontario, Canada.

One year later, this completed 25 minute Canadian film, about the psychic devastation that World War One wrought on one rural family, is a Reel Keeper! - Thanks to a superb cast: Leslie Gray as 'Leslie', John Fort as 'Tom', Rod McTaggart as 'Uncle Harry' - with youngsters Hannah Ralph playing 'Bella' & Cameron Brindle as 'Charlie! - Plus, a shout-out to local film champion, Nathan Fleet for keeping me rolling in the right direction during all aspects of production.

Clockwise: Two young stars, Hannah Ralph as 'Bella' & Cameron Brindle as 'Charlie', ruby red mittens made for the shoot, Cover Shot from The View Magazine review in December, 2016, plus DVDs on display at Canadian library.
(Here are some additional  'behind-the-scenes' from the 1st Day of the shoot.)

Releasing on September 11th, 2016, with a World Premiere at the Art Gallery of Burlington, it was very gratifying to see & hear audience's reaction, (from 2 sold-out screenings), for all the hard work all had put in. Overall, since 2014, there have been 18 pieces of PRESS written about this film.  The First Edition DVDs also sold out within the first two weeks of release.

Slowly but surely, as Producer, Director and Writer, I am now planning the BEST way to carry this small, yet timely, project forward ... Two distributors have offered Contracts. But, in the current topsy-turvy world of internet broadcasting, their EXCLUSIVE 5 to 7-year terms may not be, in fact, the best way ahead ... While I weigh out the pros and cons of this aspect of production, this wonderful family-friendly film is now Available ON-LINE  - GIVE A GANDER!

Cameron Brindle, as 'Charlie', getting ready for Take 4 at another private location in Halton County.
 Watch & Share The FROZEN GOOSE on-line 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

'Last Stand': The Distemper of Our Times, by M.L.Holton

'Last Stand' by M.L.Holton - SOLD
I remember when I painted this piece several years ago. I had just learned that a group of citizens had lost the legal battle to save a large natural park, designated as a UNESCO Biosphere, from getting tons of fake grass - aka artificial turf - dumped into it for the Pan Am Games. (That organization also dumped 6 million dollars in the City of Burlington coffers ... )

It seems that we, as humans, just cant leave well enough alone and MUST dump our sh*t everywhere ... The recent emergence of Donald Trump as President in the US amplifies this tendency. I do recognize that he was 'elected', just as Stephen Harper was 'elected' in Canada over a decade ago - BUT, when he so clearly wants to obliterate anything related to a healthy relationship to the planet, I, as so many others, MUST resist.

Technological advancements - and science - are pushing out the necessity for fossil fuels to power us and industry. A NEW era of sustainability & renewable energy is very much within our grasp. Yet, for the moment, the old dogs of the military-industrial-complex, fueled by fossil-fuel global conglomerates, are HOLDING ON. Increasingly, it looks as though they are determined to hurl us all into another World War.  --- Do any doubt it won't be nuclear?

There is a great sadness at this thought. A great overwhelming sadness that this is what the dominant bullies in humanity now seek : total Self-destruction - total Obliteration.

And for WHAT? Money? Power?  It is incomprehensible to me what they want - aside from more MONEY & POWER. It seems they are desperate to demonstrate their ability to DESTROY - to be CRUEL - to any who oppose them. This has gone waaaay beyond race, religion, ideology or anything else - it's about POWER and CONTROL. 

Read, as example, about Steve Bannon - Trump's current Chief Strategist. Basic info can be found on Wikipedia: (Take a brief look as well at the 'editing history'.)  Here too is an insightful profile that outlines who & how he sets out to manipulate mainstream media.  - Both articles demonstrate his craven need to CONTROL.

His old boss described him as the 'Leni Riefenstahl  of the Tea Party movement.
Others have called him the Master Puppeteer ... 
Personally, I think it most telling that he's been divorced THREE times.

Anyway, that's my mini rant for today. It is important, for me, to KEEP ON doing what I do - as an artist, as an observer, as a witness to our times - to not become overcome by the 'shock & awe' these super-pumped-up dudes are trying to engender. Just KEEP ON and -
LIVE a GOOD Life. 
Above all, be KIND to Mother Earth.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cathedral Skies by M.L.Holton

Have had sudden interest in this photographic image, 'Cathedral Skies' . A result of a 'aha moment' when last out for a winter walk .... If you would like to purchase, as a print or as an image on another products,  please review in detail via my FINE ART AMERICA Retail Outlet. Great quality, fast shipping & a good price!  Sorry about watermark here - but you get the idea ...  :)  Have supplied handy price list below too, so you can assess cost. - mlh

Monday, January 16, 2017

Frida Kahlo at Home - Book Review by M.L.Holton

Review pre-amble: Recently, I was invited to review a book about artist, Frida Kahlo. The book itself, the production of it, was splendid. But the more I considered the content, the more I found it was raising more questions about the artist and her work then it settled ... To wit:

Artist Frida Kahlo's Blood Bath at Casa Azul -
Book Review by M.L.Holton 

Review of 'Frida Kahlo At Home, by Suzanne Barbezat' - by M.L.Holton 
Published by Frances Lincoln Limited. 160pp, illustrated, 8.9" x 10.2", hard-cover. 
All images reproduced from the publication.  ISBN: 9780711237322   US $35 / CDN $45

Little known beyond the art circles of her own lifetime, Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo's ghoulish self-portraits throw a very long shadow today. This is surprising, given that Kahlo painted only 200 artworks during her entire life. One third of those works were her broody, introspective self-portraits, often depicting herself in a state of physical or psychological suffering, with the majority of them amplifying mutilated blood-gushing body parts.

Most contemporary international art critics and collectors are aware of these disturbing blood-soaked self-portraits. Yet, for all her notoriety of today, (with her equally uncompromising full-frontal uni-brow stare-downs), it is intriguing to note that there was only one exhibition of her art work, ever, while she was alive, in her home and native land of Mexico.

So, how did the current 'Cult of Frida' develop?

Travel writer and anthropologist, Suzanne Barbezat, provides substantial clues in her heavily illustrated coffee-table book, entitled, "Frida Kahlo at Home'. It is a well-documented treasure trove of Kahlo ephemera: with striking interior and exterior photographs of Kahlo's primary residence, La Casa Azul, aka The Blue House. The book also contains intriguing snippets of personal letters and memorabilia between herself and her husband, Diego Rivera - as well as her assorted lovers, including Russian communist revolutionary leader, Leon Troksky, and the American-Japanese sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. Many chronological reproductions of Kahlo's work flush out this tribute.

As the book press release states: "La Casa Azul, now one of the most visited museums in Mexico City, was the birthplace of the artist, Frida Khalo. It was the home where she grew up, where she lived with her husband, Diego Rivera, and where she died. She also spent significant periods of time in the house convalescing: first, when she contracted polio as a small child and again at the age of 18, after the trolley accident, which left her critically injured. Confined to her bed in casts and orthopedic devices and in constant pain, the bedroom at La Casa Azul is where Frida began to paint the vibrant and unflinching portraits and self-portraits that would make her name'".

But, Who Was She? Frida Kahlo, christened Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon, was born in Mexico to a German father, Carl Wilhelm Kahlo, (who changed his name to Guillermo Kahlo when he emigrated), and a Spanish-Mexican mother, Matilde, (his second wife.).  She was raised with certain privileges, attending a private German prep school, and receiving a pious Catholic indoctrination via her very devout mother.

Photo of Frida, taken by her father, 1926.
Frida only went 'native' after she began her lifelong association with famed Mexican artist and self-proclaimed atheist, Diego Rivera. First, as his student, then later, as his wife. They were married in 1929. She was 22, he was 42.

Diego had already built a substantial artistic persona as a 'Mexican nationalist'. He was very vocal about the class struggle and revolutionary war that defined his nation. Magnetic, and a polarizing provocateur of the labour movement, his public mural work amplified his knowledge of Mayan traditions and mythologies, pre-and-post colonial-revolutionary atrocities, and his abiding interest in the political struggles of the working-class.

It was he who assembled the pre-Colombian art collection that now resides in Anahuacalli, their 'country house'. (This house was completed, after they both died, by architect Juan O'Gorman and Diego's daughter, from a previous marriage.) It was he who was "intent on ensuring his and Frida's legacy." This, even after he married his long-time mistress, Emma Hurtrado, a year after Kahlo's death. "He created at trust through the Bank of Mexico, leaving The Blue House and Anahuacalli, as well as their contents, to the people of Mexico." He appointed another long time female friend, wealthy arts patron, Dolores Olmedo, (and one of his earliest models), as director of that trust.

Dolores and Frida were child-hood rivals. Dolores often bought Rivera's work, and only bought Frida's work at Diego's request. "She openly did not care for Frida or her work." Nonetheless, the trust was established, and after a modest re-staging, the Frida Kahlo House/Museum, aka The Casa Azul or Blue House, opened to the public in 1958. 

Twelve years after her death, a low-budget documentary, entitled, 'The Life and Death of Frida Kahlo as Told to Karen and David Crommie' made its debut at the San Francisco Film Festival. In 1983, a weighty biography was written by art historian, Hayden Herrera. In 2002, famed Mexican actress, Salma Hayek, co-produced, and starred in, the Oscar-winning feature film, 'Frida'. 

Today, Frida Kahlo has been whole-heartedly 'adopted' by a fervently nationalistic Mexican government and citizenry. They now claim her as their own. Kahlo's distinctive self-portrait, dressed as she invariably was, in the traditional Tehuana costume of an indigenous maiden, has even appeared on Mexican currency. She has achieved iconic, near 'saintly', national status.

Who, then, was Frida's husband, Diego Rivera? Diego was born to two middle-class teachers in 1886 in Guanajuato. His mother was a devoted Catholic mestiza (part European, part Indian) and his father, a criollo (Mexican of European descent). When he was six, his liberal-minded family moved from Guanajuato to Mexico City. Rivera became a Marxist, and a member of  the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1907, (the year Frida was born), Diego Rivera was continuing his arts and political studies in Europe. He met and became friends with several famous artists of the day, including Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Piet Mondrian. He studied Cubism in Spain and toured Italian frescos. He developed associations with European and Russian 'social justice' revolutionaries active in the Soviet Union. He met and befriended Leon Trotsky.

Rivera's first serious government commission, in 1923, was for a series of murals for the Secretaria de Educacion Publica in Mexico City. This work soon established his prominence in what would become known as the Mexican Mural Renaissance. Painting in a style deeply indebted to pre-Colombian culture, he created large complex panoramic images of Mexican daily life. As he wrote, "When art is true, it is one with nature. This is the secret of primitive art and also of the art of the masters—Michelangelo, C├ęzanne, Seurat, and Renoir. The secret of my best work is that it is Mexican." Raised radically, he soon became 'Mexican' to the core - and Frida adored him.

Detail from 'Freida & Diego' (1931). She called herself Freida, not Frida then.
Their love story was tempestuous from the start. Kahlo, younger by two decades, also joined the Mexican Communist Party, and, though petite and frail in comparison, she soon became an enamored disciple of this, as she wrote, "Pot-Bellied Genius". She courted him when he was still married to his second wife, and he, impressed by her seduction and burgeoning artistic sensibilities, succumbed. Their subsequent marriage was rift with upsets, break-downs, philandering (on both sides), divorce and a re-marriage.

Over time though, they did hold on to each other. When Rivera died he wanted his cremated ashes blended with hers. This never happened. But, in keeping with both of their passionate and rather narcissistic personalities, it remained a 'romantic ideal'. .... Some could say that Rivera understood the necessity of 'roots' far better then she did. 

He undoubtedly understood her dual-identity crisis. He had struggled with this himself, experimenting with European styles of painting, before embracing, whole-hog, his Mexican lineage. Frida, on the other hand, struggled, played the role well enough, but suffered. Always suffering. Diego would, as example, have her pose, dressed in peasant garb, for his murals. She, educated, erudite and well-traveled, would pose.

Detail from Rivera's 1940 mural,  'Pan American Unity', showing Frida in native dress.

Clearly though, she was no peasant.

Truth be told, fabricating and mythologizing their lives was not beyond either of them. Frida re-invented her birth date to coincide with the National Revolution. Rivera laid claim to fighting with Zapata. Both stories are untrue.
The sole exhibition of Kahlo's painted works in Mexico City was organized near the end of her life at the National Arts Institute by an old family friend and school mate of Frida's. Not to miss the occasion, Kahlo arrived in an ambulance. She was wheeled into the exhibit on a bed.

She died several years later, in July of 1954, aged 47: some suspect of suicide. It is common knowledge that during the last years of her life she lived on pain-killers. Her deteriorating condition, including the amputation of her leg, severely diminished her focus to produce much new work. Instead, she wrote and drew in journals. Many are now preserved in the Blue House.

Kahlo's art constantly shows the struggles she endured through various stages of 'identity'. After the Revolution, in 1922, when she was fifteen, she was one of only thirty-five girls admitted to the newly formed National Preparatory School. She studied the natural sciences there in the hope of advancing into medicine. However, after her childhood bout of polio, (that shortened and damaged her leg), and the later bus crash, (that battered her body, leaving her spine, pelvis and collar bone broken), she was often sickly and bed-ridden. It was during the latter recovery, while convalescing, that she began to experiment with paints.

Her self-portraits display the conflicting realities of two opposing world views. Euro-petticoats and hand-plucked lace versus Mexican-peasant garb and hand-woven cotton. Quite often there is gushing blood everywhere.

Here's one horrific example:

A Few Small Nips', (1935) by Frida Kahlo. Now in the collection of the Dolores Olemedo Museum, the original Trustee of Rivera's Estate. Note Frida's euro-style shoe.
Looking at the reproductions of her paintings in this book, it is apparent that Kahlo created a kind of hybrid and, to my eye, pseudo, folk-art. Some art historians and personal friends, like French founder of the Surrealist movement, Andre Breton, tried to place her 'style' into the Surrealist camp. (He arranged her first exhibition in France.) But it is a label that she herself vehemently rejected. Mostly, her work was private and obsessively autobiographical.

Detail, 'Love Embrace of the Universe' by Frida Kahlo (1949).

Now, in 2017, from the vantage point of Canada's current cultural perspective, (especially in the wake of the recent Joseph Boyden 'native ancestry' imbroglio), Frida Kahlo could undoubtedly be dragged over hot coals for so openly impersonating, expropriating and interpreting the indigenous culture within the boundaries of the country where she was born and raised. Rather then revered as a national cultural icon, she could just as easily be vilified as a 'Settler Expropriator'.

Many post-colonialists would unequivocally agree: both she and Diego were expropriating Settlers. But, within the ever-spinning politics of the 'Greater Good of Nationalism', most Mexican nationalists - evolving within their own young democracy - would argue that, no, she - and he - were not expropriating anything. As artists of their day, they represented the new and emerging Mexico, freed from the shackles of early colonialism and class servitude.

Putting aside the topsy-turvy push-and-pull politics of contemporary nationalism, Frida was very clearly her own woman with a unique, albeit exceedingly eccentric, outlook on life. Hailed by some as a feminist, for her fearless autobiographical and brutal depictions of personal pain, there is no question that the rich European and Mezo-American cultures in which she lived and breathed, shaped and informed her wider world vision.

Barbezat's book is full of well-researched trivia that adds yet another layer of historic sediment to this now very identifiable 'Mexican' artist. Semi-deified now within the lexicon of Mexican history, Kahlo's cremated remains lay at rest, entombed in the Blue House Museum. Frida Kahlo, artist - and forever the wife of Mexican artist, Diego Rivera - could never have emerged from anywhere else.

Frida, at home, in the Blue House, dressed in traditional Tehuana garb, circa 1940. 
 This story is now published  Raise the Hammer, January 16th, 2017.