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Nobody ever looked, dressed, suffered, painted, and lived like this amazing woman

The more I discovered, the more I concluded that Frida’s defiantly, daringly different look and style, even though based on her Mexican heritage along with her exceptionally vibrant and exciting palate, were all part of her armour, protecting her from great disappointments, and the cruel trick played on her by serendipity.

When there was a major exhibition of her work, twenty-five or so years ago, at El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan, I was lucky to have been in New York City at the time. Lady Luck smiled upon me once more. I now live in Colorado, just ten minutes from the fabulous, switched-on Denver Art Museum, and another, even more comprehensive show titled, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism.

The phenomenon known as “Frida” shows no sign of diminishing. Even though she had but a single exhibition of her paintings in her lifetime, today you can find her distinctive paintings in every single major art museum in the world.

A few years ago, when Denver held a Frida Festival and street fair, dozens of mono-browed Kahlo wannabes flooded the streets, with their Mexican garb, chunky necklaces, and flowered headdresses. What would she think about this outpouring of adulation? Would she be bemused? Flattered? Astonished?

They would probably give her a good laugh.

Text Sandi Butchkiss / Photos Cliff Shaffran