My Favorite Bad@ss Painter, Frida Kahlo

Yes, I’m, doing my best Frida!

As the summer continues to play out, and the US Women won the World Cup, AGAIN, I think it timely to introduce you to one of my very favorite painters of all time, Frida Kahlo. Why now? Nu? Like RBG, Frida is my hero. Born on July 6, she would have been 112 today. That is slightly older than me.

Frida was a brave and mighty girl who grew to be a revered painter and overall bad@ss Mexican woman. I just know that if she were alive today, she would have given that gonif (thief) mrt, a well-pointed barb or two for his deplorable and despicable treatment of Mexicans, and all immigrants everywhere. I’m trying very hard to stay focused and not go off on this topic when concentration camps are surpassing summer camps and conditions are horrific.

Frida’s childhood inhabited the chaos of a dictatorship sounds familiar during the Mexican Revolution. Such timing taught her to be outspoken about her views and values sounds familiar. By her early 20’s, she was a proud member of the Mexican Communist Party I am a proud, card-carrying member of the ACLU. She was never afraid to use her voice to speak out for her heritage, and her country sounds familiar.

At the age of 6, Frida battled polio. From then on, she was plagued with health issues. As a teen, she was severely injured in a bus/trolley accident. Her legs, already weakened from polio, were gravely damaged as a metal handrail crushed her pelvis, fracturing her spine, legs, and feet.

(c) Frida Kahlo Foundation

After the accident, she was left bedridden and wearing a medical corset around her torso. She began to paint to beat boredom. Her mom, she had a special easel made so Frida could paint while lying on her back. Such a mitzvah! (good deed). She did many self-portraits, and later asked famed Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, a K’nocker (big shot), to critique her work. In time, they married and their stormy relationship, and fiery moods and tempers filled many a canvas for Frida.

Yiddish Proverb:

If we cannot do what we will, we must will what we can do. Aoyb mir kenen nisht ton vos mir veln, mir muzn veln mos mir kenen.

Never farfaln (hopeless, lost), Frida always brought her own personality, chronic pain, relationships with men and women, miscarriages, medical procedures, and deepest feelings into her paintings. She also managed to add female strength, grit, and empowerment. Her work always spoke about indigenous culture, nature, gender, class, identity, and race in Mexican society. She painted her view of the world around her, her reality, for all to see. This is why she vehemently opposed being labeled as a ‘surrealist.’

Frida is revered for her naive, folky style, bright, bold colors, her love of Mexican culture and many portrayals of the female experience from a feminist perspective. She is a hero to many more than just me. She is an inspiration for many artists, people with chronic pain and disabilities, the LGBT world, and women everywhere.

Quotes from Frida Kahlo:

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.

There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.

At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.

Frida, she died way too young. She was only 47. Such tsuris (troubles, grief), always. She was found dead by her nurse at 6 am on July 13, 1954. It is said that she died from a pulmonary embolism. Gutinue (OMG), just imagine what more she could have accomplished if she were other-abled! She never once kvetched (complained) or let her illness, chronic pain, or disabilities stop her from living her life to the fullest.

Frida, her glass was always half-full. She lived every day with strength, dignity, and pride. May we all be so lucky. May I follow her bad@ss lead.

A bie gezunt. Go in good health. 

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

RIP, Edie Windsor. You are my Hero

*video courtesy of You Tube and Huff Post Live

Last week, the world lost an awe-inspiring hero for supporters of LGBTQ civil rights. Tiny, tough, lusty and outrageously fierce, Edie Windsor was the main plaintiff in the case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, United States v. Windsor.

You see, Edie and her same-sex partner Thea were together as a couple for 40 years. After an absurdly long and loving engagement In 2007, they loudly and proudly said, I do,” in Toronto, a place where gay marriage was both safe and legal. Thea died two years later, in 2009, leaving her entire estate to her spouse, Edie, in the form of a revocable trust. But you see DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), and the people who built this hateful excuse of a law specifically defined ‘marriage’ as deliberately excluding same-sex couples. They couldn’t see ‘us.’  They went so far as to say that the term ‘spouse’ only refers to that of a ‘man and a woman.’

Edie filed taxes after the death of her lifelong love, and justly claimed the federal estate tax that allows exemptions for surviving spouses. The IRS not only barred the exemption, they forced her to pay $363,053 in taxes. Quiet and demure never described Edie. She boldly set off on the battle of a lifetime. All of us in the LGBTQ community, we were with her every step of the way. After forking over all of Thea’s loot to the government, she filed a federal lawsuit for a full refund of the nearly $400k, stating DOMA was unconstitutional, unfair and singled out legally married, same-sex couples.

Windsor fought to overturn DOMA where non-sensical legal language stripped equality from life as she and many others of us knew it. Oral arguments were heard in March of 2013.  On June 26th of that same year, ‘the Supremes’ sang out in favor of love. This court, in a 5-4 decision (thank you, Justice Kennedy! Please never, ever retire), affirmed that DOMA was unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

In my household, as in gazillions of same-sex households across the US, it was the feeling of sheer, unfettered joy. Phones rang, hearts throbbed, hugs, kisses, and high-fives could be heard in most major metropolitan areas where we believed we would be safer far and wide, and we were all alive with the promise of equality happening right before our very eyes.

Book the hall, call the caterer, hot-damn, we were going to be legal. In this lifetime. In our lifetime.

Once, when my Big, she was about two, maybe three years old and she asked us to see our wedding pictures. We told her we weren’t married. She asked why, and we looked at each other and said, the law, it doesn’t allow us to marry. She started to cry. We told her that despite the law, love wins.

Edie will be remembered as a powerful trailblazer in the long history of the gay rights movement. A queen in the Yiddish fight club! I am forever grateful for her, and all the others before her who went out on a limb and stood up for what is right. The positive outcome of her battle against the establishment has led to many happy and loving nuptials with similar ridiculously long engagements. (Ours was a mere 17 years… and we married legally in 2013)

Edie, you will be missed. Thank you for giving me and my mishpocheh (family) the gift of equality and acceptance in a time where we are tested, challenged, and opposed daily. Your giant heart gave out on you at 88, but we can still feel your pulse of hope. You will live on in our hearts each and every day. We carry your torch proudly and hope to keep moving our case for equality, justice, and authenticity forward.

My deepest sympathies to your surviving wife and family that are left behind. You left a tacca (big) set of shoes to fill, and you have proven that love does win.

To make promises and to love don’t cost any money. Tsuzogn un lib hobn kostn kayn gelt nisht.

My Mrs., Big, Little, I love you! Ich hob dier lieb!