The blockbuster exhibit, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, has been wowing visitors since May, when it opened at the New York Botanical Garden. Before it closes Nov. 1, it's expected to pass the 500,000-visitors mark and set a record for the New York destination. One reason it is a must-see is that it reimagines Kahlo’s Casa Azul, now the Museo Frida Kahlo, in Mexico City, in the garden's Conservatory — even including a recreation of Frida's desk and a large orange pyramid designed by Diego Rivera and covered in cacti. It's currently decorated with skeletons and portraits as an altar to Frida that will culminate for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.
Last week I enjoyed one of the LGBT-themed nights in the evening, when you could traipse through the dark garden paths, make your way to the gallery to see more than a dozen paintings on display. Don't overlook the artist Humberto Spíndola's homage to the double self-portrait, The Two Fridas (not on display). Using tissue paper and bamboo reeds, Spíndola, a gardener at Casa Azul, has dressed two bamboo mannequins, holding hands, in delicate paper versions of the dresses. (I'm sad to have missed the two male actors who dressed in Spíndola's paper garb to "reenact" the painting, but it has been restaged once a week since).
We circled the taco truck, picked up margaritas and sangria at the cantina and then prepared to watch the Frida lookalike contest. Clearly a style icon to many, the Frida fetish was in full bloom: The men and women who had decked themselves out in unibrows, embroiderered dresses, rose headpieces, and flowing skirts. One sported a stuffed animal monkey, another a cane, some with masks — but the best (and winner) even had her gal pal dressed as Diego in overalls. They stole the show.
There is only a few more days (and nights) to see the show until it closes on Nov. 1. Then you'll have to travel to Mexico City for the real thing, which is truly a delightful experience.
Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, through Nov. 1 at New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx.