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Frida Kahlo Show At Plaza De La Raza

January 11, 1987|JOSINE IANCO-STARRELS

Frida Kahlo's distinctive style of psychologically charged symbolic realism goes on view in an exhibition at Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Park, Saturday through March 29. The show consists of 18 paintings and 7 drawings (from 1927 to 1945), on loan from the private collection of Dolores Olmedo Patino of Mexico City.

Best known as the wife of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo (1910-1954) gained notice for her own painting in the 1930s. The women's movement brought a resurgence of interest in her art during the 1970s, sparking exhibitions of her often bizarre paintings in the United States and scholarly articles on her life and work.

Devotees now visit the Frida Kahlo Museum in the artist's family home at Coyoacan, but her work is still little known outside fine art circles. The local exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see a large body of her art outside Mexico.

Kahlo was the child of a German-born photographer father and a Mexican mother. When she was 16, a serious accident canceled her plans for a medical career. A series of operations left her in constant pain but inspired her to paint her experience. One of her best known pictures depicts a woman in a hospital bed attached to an octopus-like mass of tubes and bottles.

At 18 Kahlo married Rivera. Their stormy relationship included separations, divorce and remarriage. His image and her own are often incorporated in disturbing paintings which seem to cut to the heart of her feelings.

The Oakland Museum hosts "Robert Arneson: A Retrospective," featuring 43 sculptures in clay by the Bay Area artist and including the controversial bust of slain San Francisco mayor George Moscone.

Organized by curator Neal Benezra of the Art Institute of Chicago for the Des Moines Art Center, the show traces Arneson's career since he first emerged in the 1960s as a "Funk" artist.

Arneson was born in Benicia, Calif., and still lives there. At the beginning of his career he was among the artists that Peter Voulkos led into a revolution of clay sculpture.

During the reign of Pop art, Arneson focused on the commonplace, creating works that looked deliberately crude, contained irreverent social commentary and used puns as subject matter. He attracted attention with his earthy, vernacular spirit and satiric/realist style.

Throughout the 1970s he primarily sculpted the human figure, producing self-portraits and likenesses of others. Among the many commissions he received was one for a portrait of Moscone, who was assassinated in 1978.

Upon completion, the sculpture was accepted but ultimately banished from its intended site, the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

In 1981, Arneson turned to the chilling theme of nuclear war, producing a series of horrific drawings and sculptures. "The things that I'm really interested in, as an artist, are the things you can't do--and that's really to mix humor and fine art," Arneson said in a prepared statement. "Humor is generally considered low art, but I think humor is very serious--it points out the fallacies of our existence."

"Remaking America: New Uses, Old Places," a photographic exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution, shows how historic buildings have been refurbished and recycled.

The photographs will appear Jan. 22 through Feb. 13 in the Los Angeles City Hall Rotunda in a show sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy in cooperation with the city's departments of general services and cultural affairs, the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Local examples in the show include the Fine Arts Building at 811 W. 7th St., originally built as artists' studios and currently used as offices, and the Temporary Contemporary, a warehouse transformed into a museum.

Exhibition curator Barbaralee Diamondstein will moderate a free public symposium on Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Public Works meeting room, City Hall 350. Councilman Joel Wachs will be keynote speaker. Other participants include developers Wayne Ratkovich and Robert Maguire III, architect Brenda Levin and Maureen Kindel of the Board of Public Works.

The latest event in the Fresno Arts Center's series of exhibitions, "Passages: A Survey of California Women Artists, 1945 to the Present," is a group show of video and performance art titled "The Lively Arts: Video and Performance Part I."

Curator Christine Tamblyn has selected videotapes by 17 artists that will rotate in a continuous cycle (through March 15). Artists Eleanor Antin, Jacki Apple, Judith Barry, Nancy Buchanan, Carole Caroompas, Cheri Gaulke, Lynn Hershman, Jo Anne Kelly, Leslie Labowitz, Suzanne Lacy, Louise Etra Ledeen, Susan Mogul, Linda Montano, Aysha Quinn, Rachel Rosenthal, Bonnie Sherk, and Barbara Smith are represented.

"On the Wall," an exhibition of wall-works by Jonathan Borofsky, Gronk, Robert Janz and Leslie Tannahill opens Tuesday at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum.

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