Especial Blog: October 2020

· Oct. 1, 2020, 1:34 pm

October 23, 2020

Especial Va al Museo

A look at the Denver Art Museum's newest exhibit, "Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism." And a new playlist, por supuesto.

Bruce Trujillo in front of a depiction of Diego Rivera's famed "Man, Controller of the Universe" mural, originally created for - and destroyed by - Rockefeller Center in New York City.

In 2019, just after the release of the massive Monet exhibit, the Denver Art Museum announced another powerhouse show dedicated to Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, as part of the traveling exhibit comprised of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman collection. Jacques and Natasha Gelman, avid art collectors (Jacques was a major influencer for Mexican film) were close friends of Frida y Diego. The show itself would land during the centennial celebration of the end of the Mexican Revolution. The show, "Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism," thankfully, will continue with new procedures in place in respect to the pandemic, and opens this Sunday, October 25th, and runs through January 24, 2021.

The exhibit features over 150 pieces, and the largest collection of paintings and drawings by Frida Kahlo the DAM has housed at once.

While Frida and Diego are at the center of the show, the exhibit features many of their contemporaries and friends throughout the Mexican modernism movement, in addition to those who helped shape them, and who they influenced.

A Quick Background...

Though Rivera was trained in European style painting, his images in paintings and in murals often include deeper socio-political (re: Communistic) messages, and celebrated Mexican Indigeneity with a goal of unifying and activating Mexicans after the 10 year revolutionary war.

Diego Rivera's Calla Lily Vendor, 1943, on display at the Denver Art Museum.
Bruce Trujillo

Kahlo's surrealistic and brutally honest paintings focused on her experiences as a disabled, queer, Communista balancing her identity as a blended German and Indigenous Mexican. Her work, as well as her person, begs the viewer to pay attention to and examine those subjects that are taboo or unspoken. Kahlo painted many subjects, most in the style of magical realism, and many as self portraits.

Frida Kahlo's "Self Portrait with Monkeys," 1943, on display at the Denver Art Museum.
Bruce Trujillo

It's safe to say that the couple have truly left a mark on the art world and on Mexico itself (they're featured on the 500 peso, their houses are now museums, and the Mexican government helped complete Rivera's pre-Colombian inspired Museum and gallery, Anahuacalli, shortly after his death).

La Exposición

I'm not going to give away the exhibit here. Some photos, yes, but I do think if you are in any way inspired by Frida and Diego, you need to go see the exhibit yourself. If you're just being introduced to their art, this is a great entry point. If you know quite a bit about the couple, or have even been to Casa Azul, the twin houses, and/or Anahuacalli en CDMX, the art in this exhibit fleshes out parts and pieces those spaces don't.

Will you learn about their full support and involvement in Communism? Will you see Frida in her wheelchair? Will you learn about her bisexuality, his infidelities?

My new favorite photo.

Not overtly, though they will be mentioned. Given that the works of the couple are synonymous with Mexican Modernism, they'd have to be. These facts are not spelled out, but not hidden. If you know, you know. If you don't, well - don't be surprised to see Frida's body cast with a hammer and sickle painted on the front, or read about their extra-marital relationships within descriptions of works displayed. I do appreciate the attention given to Frida's many medical issues, and how she dealt with them in her art.

The exhibit also provides a history on Mexico from pre-Columbian times to the present, as well as multiple directories on Frida and Diego's lives, connections, and works.

I felt that Frida's work and story were at the forefront of this exhibit, which I appreciate, as that - in my opinion - is not necessarily the case in the museos de Mexico.

Introducciones

While Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are the most famous names to come out of the Mexican Modernist movement, they certainly weren't alone. The exhibit includes friends and contemporaries to the couple.

I particularly enjoyed being introduced to Frida's contemporary, Olga Costa:

Olga Costa's "Nacimiento," 1948, on display at the Denver Art Museum.
Bruce Trujillo

...in addition to names like Lola Alvarez Bravo, Leonora Carrington, Juan Soriano, and Gunther Gerszo, among many.

Lola Alvarez Bravo's "Paisaje de Mexico," c. 1950, on display at the Denver Art Museum.
Juan Soriano's "Recreación de arcángeles," 1943, on display at the Denver Art Museum.
Miguel Covarrubias' "Retrato de Diego Rivera," c. 1920, on display at the Denver Art Museum.

The extra works provide a backdrop that helps foster a fuller picture of Frida and Diego - how the two inspired and were inspired by fellow artists in the community.

Fotografía

The photography in this show is absolutely stunning. It features many portraits of the couple together, of course, and includes images you've likely seen.

Nikolas Muray's portrait of Frida Kahlo in Coyocan, 1938, on display at the Denver Art Museum.

The work of Nikolas Muray - a friend and lover of Frida's - is throughout the exhibit, portraying her in her many forms and spaces, including her home in Coyocan, New York City, and around Mexico City.

Nikolas Muray's "Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine," 1939, on display at the Denver Art Museum.

The quality - obviously not captured in my picture - is quite beautiful, and the photos show the softness around Frida that made her Muray's muse (among many others).

I knew Frida's father, Guillermo, was a photographer, but didn't realize I hadn't seen much of his work until I turned to the wall displaying multiple pieces of his. His work helped shape Frida's, and in part this is what made her able to pose for her own self portraits, but also various other photos and paintings.

Various photos taken by Frida Kahlo's father, Guillermo Kahlo, on display at the Denver Art Museum.

I was also very pleasantly surprised to see the photography of Patti Smith included in this exhibit. Smith is a huge fan of Frida's, and two photos from her visit to Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo's home turned museum, in 2012 are included (fun fact: Patti Smith is quoted in a mural at Casa Azul now as well).

Photos of Casa Azul taken by Patti Smith, on display at the Denver Art Museum.

Included also are photos of the two in their homes, working together and separately, and simply being.

Comparing Subjects

Another piece of this exhibit that I enjoyed was the repeating subject matter - Natasha Gelman herself. The Gelmans commissioned artists, Frida and Diego included, to capture her beauty on many occasions. There are a number of portraits of Natasha throughout the exhibit.

Rufino Tamayo's "Portrait of Natasha Gelman" on display at the Denver Art Musem.

Frida and Diego's pieces are paired together...

...which is interesting to see how they chose to define her portrait, what was highlighted, the shapes, the size.

Of course, the real treat is seeing the many self portraits of Frida herself (there are seven)...

...and a small collection of her outfits.

"Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism" is open October 25th through January 24th, 2021, at the Denver Art Museum. Oh, and here's a short playlist inspired by the show:

October 29, 2020

Especial 10.28

What a weekend we have coming up! Halloween, la luna llena, y Dia de los Muertos... Just in time for Dia de Muertos, Ife, un Afro-Americano de Puerto Rico, has announced a brand new EP out November 17th - a collection of Yoruban prayer songs for the dead, remixed, appropriately titled Ashe Bogbo Egun\The Living Dead - and released the lead single from it:

Our very own Neoma has also just released her third and final collaborative single of the year with Pastizales de Cuenca, Ecuador - where Neoma came to Denver from. She's been working with some pals from Ecuador throughout the year, despite the distance and pandemic.

PLUS: Netflix has also just released the trailer for the highly anticipated Selena bio-series, Nina de Freitas covers Kiltro and Chicano Batman en vivo del CPR Performance Studio.

Playlist:

Nina de Freitas - If I Lead Will You Follow Single
Neoma y Pastizales - Vuello8110 Single
Omar Apollo - Kamikaze Apolonio
Lolita - Toda Mi Gente ft. Big Samir Single
The Mananas - Don't Think Your Love Has Given Up Single
Sofia Valdes - Handful of Water Ventura EP
Ife - Music for Egun Movement 2 Ashe Bogbo Egun\The Living Dead EP
Leon de las Florez - LetemB El Leon Se Salio EP
Nelson D - A Grande Revolta Em Sua Propria Terra
Nina Dioz y Hispana - Mezcal Single
Ana Tijoux - Antifa Dance Antifa Dance
Pink Hawks - Occupy Single
Selena Y Los Dinos - Como La Flor Entre a Mi Mundo
Los Esplifs - La Peligrosa Single
Los Mocochetes - Rocks Single
Chicano Batman - Freedom Is Free CPR Performance Studio

October 22, 2020

Especial 10.21

Cada semana trato de tocar una canción nueva en Especial. It isn't hard, there is so much new music out right now - but I was coming up empty handed until the very last minute this week. I was introduced to Sofia Valdes de Panama recently, and she's just released a new EP, single, and video:

...as it's supposed to snow this weekend, the beach vibes are entirely welcome, as are Sofia's pop sensibilities. Also sent to me last minute is the brilliant return of Omar Apollo, who just released his debut, full length album, Apolonio, along with a new music video for "Kamikaze."

As if that weren't enough, ya boi is performing at Paisley Park - the Paisley Park - on the 29th for a live stream performance! New music out this week from Juana Molina (de Mexico - nueva album en vivo) and Ela Minus (de Colombia - debut, full length album). Xenia Rubinos has also announced new music is on it's way.

En las noticias locales, excited to announce Denver's own Neoma has a new single coming out on Friday - her third and final collaboration of 2020; local band Altas will return for their annual Día de los Muertos celebration next Wednesday; and Los Mocochetes have announced a Halloween show at the world famous Oriental Theater.

Playlist:

Cikatriz - Anhele Single
Lido Pimienta - Eso Que Tu Haces Miss Colombia
Altas - Altepetl Epoca de Bestias
Nelson D - A Grande Revolta Em Sua Propria Terra
The Mananas - Don't Think Your Love Has Given Up Single
Neon Indian - Toyota Man Single
Sofia Valdes - Handful of Water Ventura EP
Omar Apollo - Kamikaze Apolonio
Neoma y Lolabum - Cuando Quieres Jugar Conmigo
Ela Minus - they told us it was was hard, but they were wrong. Acts of Rebellion
Xenia Rubinos - Should I Stay or Should I Go Single
Jessica Jimenez - Who Am I Single
La Dame Blanche - La Mentalista Ella
Juana Molina - Un Dia Punk ANRMAL
Alice Bag - Spark Sister Dynamite
Los Mocochetes - Rocks Single

October 20, 2020

Communidad Guest DJ: Franklin Cruz

Franklin Cruz
Photo Provided by Guest

Franklin Cruz is un regalo. Franklin is all around inspiring - I was introduced to them through their poetry (which has made me cry real tears), and then the breadth of amazing work they do kept showing up. A danzante. An educator al museo (what!? Dream). And they're just amazingly sweet and fun. I'm excited to share with you Franklin Cruz!

What do you do in the Denver community:
I'm a science educator at the Museum of Nature and Science, a spoken word artist, dancer, emcee and writer. 

Tell me more about your background:
I first got introduced to the Denver community through a friend who took me to my first open mic and slam with the youth organization Minor Disturbance. After that I worked my way into the adult scene and then into dance. I was studying biology the whole time and later worked that into my art. It just caught people's eye and I started being invited to share in different spaces, mainly with Latinx, LGBTQ and immigrant communities. 

Tell me more about your Latinidad:
My family is from Mexico and we come from Raramuri and Pima people from the northern part of Chihuahua in the North of Mexico. I identify as an Indigena Mexicana now as I discover more of my roots. 

Why does representation matter in your community work:
Representation in my work is creating spaces for visibility without erasure. Often there are communities being removed from sight to appease a larger discriminatory preference like with LGBTQ and immigrant communities. When represented authentically these communities have demonstrated their large capacity for affecting positive social change. 

What is one way the community can uplift Latin work/voices/art:
Language inclusivity, many communities don't speak English as the language of their heart. Organizations like the community language cooperative help in making spacing more inclusive to both presenters and audience by giving access to non-English speakers to be understood and to understand the context they are in with ease and they work with community. This will expand the audience and talent pool we can share with. 

October 14, 2020

Especial 10.14

I was just introduced to Nelson D last night so you are now as well:

According to his Spotify, he's Indigenous to the Amazonian region in Brasil, and was adopted as a baby by an Italian couple. He was raised as an Italian citizen, studied art in Milan, and recently went back to Sao Paulo to share his music - and re-adopted his name from the orphanage he was in as a child, Nelson D.

His music can stand next to many songs in the Especial library, especialmente Lido Pimienta (see below), and Denver's own Leon de las Florez.

Tonight we also get another glimpse into Juana Molina's upcoming live album, recorded just one week before the pandemic hit Mexico:

The new album is ANRMAL, out on October 23rd. The live album was recorded without their normal instruments, as they were lost by the airline, so... they just went with what was onstage, which gives the album a much more punk rock sound.

This week's Especial inspired by these two! Playlist:

Kiltro - The Hustle Creatures of Habit
Lido Pimienta - Eso Que Tu Haces Miss Colombia
Leon de las Florez - Letemb El Leon Se Salio
Nelson D - A Grande Revolta Em Sua Propria Terra
Bandalos Chinos - El Idolo Single
Los Esplifs - La Peligrosa Single
Pink Hawks - Occupy Single
La Dame Blanche - Cogelo Con Calma Single
Lolita - Toda Mi Gente (Remix, ft. Big Samir) Single
Ela Minus - they told us it was hard, but they were wrong. Single
Neoma y Lolabum - Cuando Quieres Jugar Conmigo Single
Gabriel Garzon-Montano - Aguita Aguita
Nina Dioz y Hispana - Mezcal Single
Juana Molina - Un Dia (Punk) ANRMAL
Fea - Ya Se No Novelties
Alice Bag - Gate Crasher Sister Dynamite
Fucking City - Difficult Experience demos

October 13, 2020

La Quinceañera Lido Pimienta en NPR Tiny Desk

Check out Lido Pimienta's NPR Tiny Desk At Home concert!

Lido Pimienta's debut, full length album, Miss Colombia, is a strong contender for my favorite album of the year... Si no lo has escuchado - do it now:

October 8, 2020

Especial 10.7

So Gabriel Garzón-Montano was supposed to release his new album tomorrow, but did last Friday instead - mil gracias, Gabriel! Agüita is out now, and just one of los canciones nuevos para este semana. Bandalos Chinos de Argentina have just released a brand new single, expanding their genre exploration lately, this time, takin' on a classic rock 'n' roll sound:

Also this week, new and local music from Fucking City, the one man band from Denver's Paul Navarro (heavy Protomartyr vibes, which I always appreciate). Also en musica local, Los Mocochetes have been taping the video for "Rocks," y Neoma's just released the video for the collaborative single with Lolabum:

...y mucho mas! Playlist:

The Mananas - Don't Think Your Love Has Given Up Single
Silavana Estrada - Para Siempre Single
La Dame Blanche - La Mentalista Ella
Gabriel Garzon-Montano - Aguita Aguita
Neoma y Alkaloides - Perfil Perfil
Nina Dioz y Hispana - Mezcal Single
Bandalos Chinos - El Idolo Single
Zoe - Fiebre Single
Fucking City - Difficult Experience demos
Los Mocochetes - Rocks Single
Dom La Nena - Voce Ela
Lido Pimienta - Nada ft. Li Saumet Miss Colombia
Pink Hawks - Occupy Single
LADAMA - Inmigrante Oye Mujer
Ana Tijoux - Pa' Que ft. PJ Sin Suela Antifa Dance
Los Esplifs - La Peligrosa Single

October 7, 2020

Comunidad Guest DJ: Raven Porteous-Mena

Raven Porteous Mena of East High School & Por Vida
Provided by guest.

Las mujeres en la comunidad son inspiracional. Especially in education. Especially when they run their own small business on top of that. Such is the case with my guest DJ this week, Raven Porteous-Mena. I followed her small business, Por Vida, on Instagram and loved that she was creating goods celebrando la cultura - and helping out the community in the process. That's a key component to her work in education as well.

Read more about Raven - and check out 10 songs she loves - below!

What do you do in the Denver community: 
I am the Dean of Students at East High school, I focus a lot on our community youth, social emotional learning, educational equity for our Black and Brown students, and incorporating art into mental health treatments and behavioral outlets.

 Tell me more about your background: 
I am a first-generation person in the USA, my parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. I was originally born in Houston, Texas. Moved throughout the West from New Mexico to California and finally settled in Denver, Colorado, when I was 5 years old. I got heavily involved in the Denver Community as a 19-year-old College student at MSU Denver. My involvement started with an organization called Journey Through our Heritage run by Dr. Renee Fajardo, focusing on community education programming, Cultura, Art and Latino History. I fell in love with the game and at 29 years old, I never left.
 
Tell me more about your Latinidad:
 I am Latina, Mestiza if you will. These are my people, my tribe. With such strong roots in Yucatan, Mexico, where all my family still lives, to Spain, where I have a grandmother, to the the wild west, these are lands my ancestors worked. The Latina/o community here in Denver feels like home.
  
Why does representation matter in your community work:
 Representation is SO IMPORTANT IN EDUCATION. Students of color are swept under the rug or pumped into a pipeline to jail every day in our education system. School choice has segregated out communities creating vulnerable pockets in our society. Representation for these students is necessary to navigate a system that wasn’t built for them. Without representation the 1946 case of Mendez v. Westminster prohibiting segregation in California’s public schools would not of been possible. The activism of Cesar Chavez and Corky Gonzales was representation that to this day its ripple effects are coating our community. Representation is needed for the safety and success of our minority students. This also goes for the Art scene in Denver too, representation is needed not only in street murals but in art administration as well for equity. Sit on a board, make our voices be heard, take control of the narrative because we are all still here and need a strong voice in Denver art and education.
 
What is one way the community can uplift Latin work/voices/art: 
Curate Art Shows, share our posts, come to our events promote your favorite Latin owned business and brand. Shop local, I guess what I am saying is as a community my success will help your success, we are all connected so supporting each other through it all will create a stronger sense of talent, service, art, family, love and community

Follow Raven Porteous-Mena and her work here:
@por.vida.mija
@kissin_the_sky

Oct. 1, 2020

Especial 9.30

Mucha musica nueva - almost too much (jaja - not really). The other night a band out of Tuscon started following me on Instagram - I checked out their page, saw a performance clip and... was intrigued. After heading over to their Bandcamp, pues - me enamoré. Introduciendo Los Esplifs:

Also, Niña Dioz returns after releasing an absolute Pride banger earlier this summer with "Brillo," which of course, you've heard here, with a joint love letter to Mexico, featuring Hispana. "Mezcal" was released on 16 Septiembre - día de la Independencia en Mexico, claro, and I absolutely love this track. La Dame Blanche finally released Ella last week, and The Mañanas also released a brand new single that I got to debut last time... Oh - also Chicano Batman will be on Bootleg Sessions this Sunday at 7pm, so I had to kick things off with a previously unreleased track...

Playlist:

Chicano Batman - Scab Black Lipstick Single RSD 2019
Nina Dioz & Hispana - Mezcal Single
Lolita - Toda Mi Gente (Remix ft. Big Samir) Single
Gabriel Garzon-Montano - Aguita Aguita
LADAMA - Nobreza Oye Mujer
Tropa Magica - Siete Balasos Tripiando al Infinito en mi Recamara
The Mananas - Don't Think Your Love Has Given Up Single
Alice Bag - Spark Sister Dynamite
Los Esplifs - La Peligrosa Single
Pink Hawks - OCCUPY Single
Novalima - El Regalo Ch'usay
Ana Tijoux - Antifa Dance Antifa Dance
Neoma & Lolabum - Cuando Quieres Jugar Conmigo Single
Helado Negro - I Fell In Love ft. Xenia Rubinos Single
La Dame Blanche - La Mentalista Ella
Los Mocochetes - Rocks Single

You made it!

You love learning about new music and the Denver music scene. We have a weekly newsletter for you -- Inside Track. Sign up here to stay in the know about the hottest Colorado concerts and how you can score tickets!