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Frida Kahlo's 'Blue House' Re-Created at Portland's Milagro Theatre

OPB | Jan. 9, 2013 7:15 a.m.

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For fans of artist Frida Kahlo, making the trip to her birthplace in Coyoacán, Mexico may not be the most convenient of options. But if you can’t visit the famous “Blue House” where many of Kahlo’s works were conceived, another artist, Susana Espino, might be able to offer something closer. 

Painter Frida Kahlo is perhaps best known for her self-portraits that incorporate the rich and vibrant colors which became known as an important component of her trademark style. The Blue House, named for its deep, cobalt blue walls, served as her primary residence at different times throughout her life, including during her stormy relationship with the famous muralist Diego Rivera. Today, the house is a museum attracting more than 25,000 visitors per month.

Artist Susana Espino (left) guides the installation by Collin Lawson (center) and Edna Vazquez of "The Blue House" art exhibit.

Artist Susana Espino (left) guides the installation by Collin Lawson (center) and Edna Vazquez of "The Blue House" art exhibit.

Courtesy Miracle Theater Group

For the last few weeks, Portland-based artist Espino has been painstakingly putting together an art instillation which stands as a representation of the famous landmark. The exhibit is housed in the Milagro Theatre’s Zócalo room and incorporates photographs, sculptures, paintings and other works of art which are thematically linked to Kahlo and the broader Mexican diaspora. Large, painted panels define the boundaries of the installation and create the feeling of different spaces within the home. Works of art by several local artists including Lulu Moonwood Murakami, Sylvia Malán-González and Russell J. Young can be found within the installation.

“There are a lot of visual elements,” says Espino, commenting on the installation. “Every piece has details. I’m using a lot of my sculpture. It’s been hard to paint the panels because the fabric is so light.”

“I’m not trying to do her house exactly,” Espino adds. “There wouldn’t be enough space. I want the people who come in to get an idea of what her house was like.”

In addition to the visual experience, visitors will get the chance to read some of Kahlo’s letters and poetry, as well as create self-portraits. If visitors are even more inspired, they can further immerse themselves in the experience by trying on makeup and clothing related to the exhibition.

The exhibition, which complements the Milagro Theatre’s staging of the play Frida, Un Retablo, is open to the public, free of charge, one hour before each performance.

GO SEE IT

  • Susana Espino’s “Blue House” Art Installation
  • January 10-19, 2013, Open one hour before performances of “Frida, Un Retablo” and all day between the 2 p.m. matinee and 8 p.m. closing performance on January 19, 2013; Free
  • Milagro Theatre, 525 SE Stark Street, Portland
  • Tickets to “Frida, Un Retablo”: Adv. $12-24; Door $16-$24
  • Visit Milagro Theatre website

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