Scott Ball / Rivard Report
San Antonio proved its love for iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo last year when more than 6,000 people flocked to the first annual San Antonio Frida Festival.
The celebration instantly flooded the Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex with people of all ages clad in colorful blouses and trenzas con flores to celebrate the life and art of Kahlo with music, food, and artisan crafts.
Festival organizers this year are bracing themselves for round two of Frida Fest, with a bigger venue and lineup of entertainment and food and art vendors. But the focus remains the same – to honor the life, art, and perseverance of Kahlo.
“[Last year’s event] was a wonderful, wonderful experience. We never anticipated that we were going to have such a huge turnout. For that reason we’ve worked extra hard this year to put it in a venue where it’s going to accommodate a lot of people,” said Janie McClinchie, owner of Que Retro Arts, which is hosting the festival alongside numerous other groups in the SA Frida Festival Committee. Fred Anthony Garza co-chairs the committee with McClinchie.
This year’s free, family-friendly festival will be on Saturday, July 15 at Wonderland of the Americas, 4522 Fredericksburg Rd. The event, 63 years since her death, is a few days after Kahlo’s birthday on July 6.
From noon to 9 p.m., patrons can peruse and purchase art pieces from the expansive art gallery – curated by Kristel A. Orta-Puente – watch fashion shows featuring unique pieces by local designers Gennifer Erika Velasquez and Brittany San Miguel, and visit the mercado featuring dozens of handmade items such as jewelry, small art pieces, and other trinkets for sale by more than 60 vendors.
Every item in the festival, McClinchie said, is “Frida-inspired.” An artist and crafter herself, McClinchie will be selling her handmade flower crowns, one of Kahlo’s signature fashion pieces which quickly sold out at last year’s festival.
Beyond the abundance of crafts and art at the festival will be music, dance and comedy taking place on the event stage. Entertainment will be provided by
San Antonians will likely come out in full force for the event, which was inspired by similar festivals all around the state and the country that pay homage to Kahlo, McClinchie said. She thinks the Frida Festival caters to the vibrant local community.
“We love art here in San Antonio,” she said, “and specifically anything to do with our culture.”
McClinchie has been inspired by Kahlo since she was a child and first saw her work in a mercado with her grandmother. Her paintings, widely regarded as some of the most iconic works of art from Mexico, portray her struggles, emotions, and political and personal views. One of the focuses of the Frida Festival is to have attendees reflect on Kahlo’s history of challenging societal roles for women and popular political views of her time, and “take a deeper look into our own reality,” according to the event page.
“She didn’t live by the standards that she was made to live by,” McClinchie said. “She was a communist, she was an atheist. For her to have her own political views and religious views, she was someone that even today would be … so admired for the way that she was and living the way she did, being passionate about what she believed in.”
In planning the festival, McClinchie has uncovered a whole community of (mostly female) Frida-lovers. They were always there, but their appreciation for the artist has united them. The group took a trip last August to see the exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art featuring her work: México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.
“We all had that bond of wanting to go see Frida Kahlo’s artwork because we look up to her, we admire her, we love what she stands for, we love the fact that she represented the modern icon for Latinas and women in general,” McClinchie said. “She was such a strong figure that even though she had all of these obstacles, she overcame them.”