Frida in Brooklyn

I visited the Brooklyn Museum on the opening day of the wonderful and timely exhibition, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” I naively thought that I could beat the crowds: after all, I had arrived at admissions at 12 noon, exactly one hour after the museum opened. Instead, I was surprisingly told I would have to wait until 2:30pm to enter the exhibition (in the meantime, I was able to enter and explore the rest of the museum)! My first recommendation is to buy tickets in advance. I checked the website and noticed that weekend shows for the next several weeks are already sold out.

My second recommendation is to put away your phone! Visitors are told that photography is not allowed, but that didn’t stop quite a few rude people from taking out their phones and ruining the experience for others. If you are one of those people who just can’t help themselves, consider this for a moment: when you snap a picture of a painting, that you can probably find online via a museum website, how often do you go back and look it? How often do you study it? Why ruin a rare moment of seeing a painting in person by fumbling with your phone? And if you are snapping a picture on your phone for posting on social media, the exhibition has two interesting displays to do just that before you enter the actual exhibition.

The exhibition is presented thematically, using paintings by Kahlo and peers, photographs, and Mexican ceramics to explore Kahlo’s identity. Clothing and make-up are central to this: for example, Kahlo used native clothing to express her Mexican nationalism. It was surprising to see that she loved using perfume and Revlon products (Revlon is the major supporter of this show). Many of these items had been stored in Casa Azul, the home, Kahlo shared with her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

One of the most absorbing, and heartbreaking, pieces of art was a lithograph depicting Kahlo’s miscarriage. It was as powerful as the “Henry Ford Hospital” painting, which explores the same subject. I absolutely adored the home movies that were shown, which I saw twice! Among my favorite pieces were the photographs, many of which I had never seen before. Standouts were those by Gisele Freund, known for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists.

The major problem with this exhibition is how some of the artwork is displayed, most notably the photographs. Many are presented in groups of four, with two of the four well below eye range. This means that if two people stand in front of the four pictures, others have to wait to properly study and contemplate them (as well as contend with the impolite people who insist on taking pictures). With the crowds, this simply does not work. The first two rooms were rather small with one wasted on a second ticket checkpoint. Yes, there were two checkpoints to get into the exhibition: one at the door and one in front of a wall, projecting images of Kahlo. A wall. Interesting.

It has been over sixty years since Kahlo has passed away, but she still continues to fascinate. This exhibition is worth seeing—but only if you can go during a weekday, with minimal crowds. Each piece is worth quiet contemplation. The exhibition notes how much she loved New York City—the world is here and that is what she embraced and probably why we embrace here today. She is a voice from Mexico’s past conveying the need for more bridges and less walls.

Nightmares Conquered by Love


My Beautiful Little Cat Seven.  She is named after the Jeri Ryan character from Star Trek Voyager.

My Beautiful Little Cat Seven. She is named after the Jeri Ryan character from Star Trek Voyager.

The first time I saw a cobra was when my parents were watching a nature program on television (it was the early 1970’s, so it was likely Wild Kingdom). I was five years old and utterly terrified.

That night that I had my first nightmare involving a cobra.

The dream started in the middle of my coming upon the cobra, who then lunges toward me to bite my arm. Just as the cobra made contact with my arm, I woke up screaming.

I would have this horrific recurring dream for nearly forty years, often during times of stress.

While the settings varied, it was always the same cobra. It was my cat, Seven, who helped me overcome this life-long terror.

I adopted Seven from the ASPCA shelter in Manhattan on July 2, 2005. I vividly remember the first time I saw her: I was in the Cat Sanctuary interacting with several cats when she walked by to jump up on the window. I picked her up and she made this adorable little sound not unlike the one made by the infamous Tribbles from Star Trek (I would later find out this sound was called trilling; here is a video of another cat doing it

I fell in love! I unfortunately couldn’t bring her home that day and had to wait two days while the ASPCA checked my references. There was no guarantee that she would be there when I returned. Thankfully she was!

Seven isn’t my first pet or my first cat. However, she is the first pet I have ever adopted who I had no prior knowledge regarding where her life started. All I know is that she was pregnant when she was brought in and that the veterinarians had to give her a Caesarean section (she still had the scar when I brought her home). I remember meeting some really young kittens in a separate part of the Cat Sanctuary and later realized they must have been hers (they were Tabbies and Seven has Tabby markings).

I bonded with her immediately— as did her companion, Rigatony (my black cat who was born in August of 2000). I never get tired of watching her and petting her and simply spending time with her. She has this amazingly strong female energy. She has truly captured my imagination and has even been the subject of my art. She makes me smile every single day and I can’t imagine my life without her. I know that my time with her and Rigatony is limited, so I treasure them both very much.

About six years ago, I started having that same nightmare with the cobra, but something was different: this time the cobra was going after Seven. I remember feeling that fear, but when he made his move to bite Seven, I blocked him and took the bite. I didn’t wake up screaming and in fact banged my arm into a wall trying to crush the cobra. I woke up when he sank his fangs into me even deeper, but did not scream. It was the last time I ever had that dream.

I realized that love is stronger than fear.

Thank you my dearest Seven for saving me from that cobra by letting me love you.

Rigatony Playing Ball. Watercolor.

Rigatony Playing Ball. Watercolor.

Seven Snooping Around The Corner. Watercolor.

Seven Snooping Around The Corner. Watercolor.