By Laura Barron-Lopez
For the Daily Titan
Frida Kahlo, a woman and artist who stands the test of time, continues to represent a plethora of feelings to many people.
The various thoughts that arise at the mention of her name are endless: bold, fierce, eccentric, troubled, resilient.
But regardless of the labels people attempt to place on her, she will truthfully weather all the storms of time and judgment. It is for this reason that she continues to be revered and remembered, in this case, in a gallery art exhibit.
Picture This Gallery and Custom Framing, located in Long Beach and owned by Marisol Gomez, has an annual Frida Kahlo art exhibit, filled with a wide range of interpretations of Frida by local artists. The exhibit will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, the opening reception was Saturday, Sept. 5, and the final one will be on Oct. 31. Artists are asked to be creative and produce unique pieces of artwork in their own style.
Gomez, an intelligent, charismatic woman, opened this shop/gallery in 1996. She felt â€œthat there were not enough opportunities for amateur artists.â€ She wanted to open a place â€œwhere all artists can get exposure and learn about the process of a gallery exhibit.â€
Gomezâ€™s four annual exhibits include: â€œLove and Hateâ€ in February, â€œThe Motivational Art, Poetry and Fundraiserâ€ exhibit for at-risk teens, â€œFrida Kahlo,â€ and finally in December â€œLa Virgen,â€ (The Virgin Mary), an exhibit in honor of her grandmother.
Gomez chose to display â€œLove and Hateâ€ annually. â€œEveryoneâ€™s been hurt or loved and either words, love and hate, cause people to go crazy. Strong emotions can be pulled out of both,â€ she said.
She has the â€œMotivationalâ€ exhibit so that teens at risk can learn â€œthey can break that cycle and create change in themselves.â€
Gomez takes joy in seeing these young artistsâ€™ faces light up when they see that their work has sold.
Choosing Frida Kahlo as an annual exhibit, Gomez feels, speaks for itself: â€œThere is such love for her worldwide.â€
Lastly, â€œLa Virgenâ€ is focused on the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Gomez has deep feelings connected to this exhibit; her reason for making it annual is in honor of her grandmother who was born on Dec. 12, La Virgen of Guadalupeâ€™s saint day. For the very first showing of this exhibit, she had her grandmother flown in from Mexico.
Hearing the reasoning for deciding upon these annual exhibits gives them even greater meaning and intrigue.
By having these exhibits, Gomez gives hope to local artists, a sense of tradition, and keeps the art of creating original works alive.
Although some may feel the smallness of this gallery hinders its abilities, it instead contributes to its power.
The quaint vibe of the gallery makes the atmosphere intimate, allowing people to feel close to the ethnic culture and art.
Walking into the gallery Saturday evening for the opening reception, Mexican music lingered softly in the background, and in the foreground the voices of those admiring the art filled the room.
The gallery couldnâ€™t fit all the visitors, leaving them overflowing onto the sidewalk outside.
The colors of the art, the wine served, the music, and people who all shared common appreciations of Frida created feelings intimacy with history, tradition, and culture that seems to be quite rare among our society today.
The variety of artwork that creates the pulse and emotions are on a level all their own.
Every piece is fascinating, all having individual interpretations of one woman, Frida.
For free, the public can be exposed to these masterpieces.
Here, anyone can find something in a work they relate to or that strikes a chord within. Out of over 100 entries, 24 were selected to be in the show.
â€œLa Salida,â€ an acrylic on canvas piece created by Shanon Jones, displays Frida alone on a stage, defiant, symbolic of her lifeâ€™s solitude and giving a final bow.
â€œFrida,â€ a watercolor on a palm frond by Lynn Morgan, captures the eye with its dramatic protrusion off the wall.
On a single palm tree frond is Frida painted in vibrant colors. Morgan explained, â€œlike Frida, a palm endures the storms of life and yet remains a symbol of beauty.
Morgan was surprised and honored, that she, a local high school art teacher, could sell a work of art.
She further explained that she wanted to paint on a â€œdifferent surface than typically used. A palm takes countless beatings, like Frida, yet still continues.â€
All the works of art were layered with depths of meanings, which could only be noticed when time was taken to truly analyze them.
A small performance was given by Gomez, the owner, who donned Frida attire, singing â€œLa Llorona,â€ (The Wailing Woman), further building upon the ambiance of tradition and Fridaâ€™s culture.
An evening rich with art, life, and culture is a fitting tribute to Frida Kahlo, whose personal magnetism was always evident in her works.