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Luis Felipe Rojas, 14 July 2015 — Beautiful things can happen. This post is because of three pleasant surprises I had last week. First, I met — after 20 years — my dear friend the poet, Orlando Coré Fernández. Coré introduced me to a couple of special women. I interviewed the first one Friday afternoon and already gave you the news. The second was the painter, Mariana Altamirano, from Ecuador, who has lived in Miami since 1981 and just inaugurated her exhibit, “Frida Kahlo: Releasing the Magic,” the true magic that surrounds Frida.
In the Art Emporium on 7th St. and 13th Ave. in southeast Miami, Mariana expended all her energy to give us a redefined Frida, one she herself revisited in her dreams and in real life.
About that energy of Frida that you see in each piece, Mariana said: “She’s an artist that left every Latino a very large legacy. Because as a woman she managed to triumph in the art world in the 1930s and 1940s, when no other woman had been able to go that far then.”
Mariana wandered through the house/gallery, which was full of people. She showed me a couple of pieces where, she believes, she left enough of Frida’s power and sweat, which she appropriated from her. Mariana believes that she owes Frida her gratitude “for imposing myself on her life of terrible illness.”
As part of the show, several women dressed up as Frida, to the delight of the attendees.
Frida’s arrival in the United States at the beginning of the ’80s in the past century pushed her to study, guided by Professors Baruj Salinas and Yovany Bauta, below whose supervision she received a B.A. from the Miami Dade College Inter-American Campus.
In an interview with the journalist María Espinoza in 2012, Mariana related something Frida said that shows her tenacity: “There are many significant events in my career, but there is one that I always remember, and I am sharing it with other artists so they will be prepared. It took place many years ago, when I had my first solo art exhibition. I didn’t know that they were going to have me speak, and I was in a gallery where the curator spoke only English. The day of the gallery opening, they brought me up to the stage and bombarded me with questions. I wanted to die. Although I understood English, I didn’t speak it well enough to answer, so they had to get a translator. I was so ashamed that day that, since then, I set myself the goal of learning English, in order to speak on the opening day of my exhibitions.”
Mariana said goodbye to me that night with a hug that made me lose myself in her immense geography, and I ended up with one of her paintings, impregnated with color, where Frida Kahlo looks out on the world, now that the magic has been liberated and installed in Miami’s Little Havana.
Translated by Regina Anavy