The prolific Mexican artist Frida Kahlo would have been 109 years old on Wednesday, July 6. Though it's been 62 years since her death, her life and legacy as an artist, activist, and voice for the downtrodden has been vibrantly preserved around the world.
This Saturday, July 9, everyone is invited to honor the legendary artist at Frida Siempre: Presenté, San Antonio's inaugural Frida festival at the Brick Marketplace at Blue Star Arts Complex from 6-11 p.m.
The free, family-friendly event, organized by the Frida Festival Committee – representatives from Que Retro Arts, Lady Base Gallery, Las Ofrendas, and Viva Vegeria – will combine art, food, and performance to celebrate the painter and poet who is widely considered one of Mexico's greatest artists.
Other cities like Houston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles have annual "Frida festivals," said Que Retro Arts Owner Janie McClinchie, who hatched the idea to start the local festival. Now, it's San Antonio's turn to join in.
"I had been thinking it would be awesome to have a festival considering that San Antonio has (such a large) Frida following," she said. "She’s really become an icon and you see her almost everywhere at art festivals in San Antonio, so why not honor her with a festival?"
The event will feature an all-female art show with artists from across the region showcasing more than 50 pieces of Frida-inspired work. Fashion designers Agosto Cuellar, Gennifer Erika Velasquez, and others will be on site selling special pieces inspired by the intriguing clothing Frida wore while walking the streets of Coyoacán where she lived for most of her life.
Patrons also can visit the mercado, which will feature crafts and jewelry by more than 30 vendors – all handmade. Necklaces, bracelets, pillows, small pieces of art, "you name it" will be available for purchase, McClinchie said.
Cha Cha’s Mexican Restaurant and Viva Vegeria will provide antojitos throughout the night and Bedoy’s Bakery and Michelle’s Patisserie will supply an array of dulces including pan de muerto and hand-painted Frida cookies and cupcakes.
Attendees can enjoy performances by El Tallercito de Son SATX, Eyes of Ebony, and Grupo Folklorico de Bendiciones who will perform traditional folklorico and tango dances, rumored to be one of Frida's favorite types of dances.
McClinchie will be selling her handmade flower crowns, an accessory that has become synonymous with Frida and has been portrayed in many of her self-portraits, and attendees are encouraged, she said, to dress to the nines a la Frida.
"There are a lot of us that have an inner Frida, so why not show it off that night?" McClinchie said.
The first official Frida gathering has already garnered wide support across the city, McClinchie said. She hopes that next year will grow into a two-day event, where more vendors and partners can participate in the fiesta.
"We had to turn away (vendors) because it got to the point where we outgrew the venue because we had so many people asking to be part of it," she said.
A Laredo native, McClinchie first saw a Frida Kahlo painting when she was 10 years old, walking through a mercado with her grandmother. In that moment, McClinchie's grandmother taught her about Frida, her struggles, and her artwork that portrayed those struggles. McClinchie learned how Frida's work challenged traditional societal roles for women and how Frida used art to express her political and personal views. She has been inspired ever since.
She hopes that the younger generations who come to the Frida Festival on Saturday – especially young women – will have similar experiences with the iconic artist, and come to appreciate her inspirational life and work.
"I love how we as women see her as an icon. We see her as a strong, independent Latina, able to overcome all of the bad things that happened to her and live her life freely," McClinchie said. "For so many of us, she has inspired us to live our lives the same way."
Top image: Detail of a flyer promoting the Frida Kahlo festival. Art by Regina Morales.