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The Phoenix Fridas
at Vision Gallery, Chandler, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

The Phoenix Fridas are a women's collective who present their latest annual homage to icon Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.


Continuing through August 3, 2012


A female artists' collective known as the Phoenix Fridas takes its cue from the enigmatic Frida Kahlo and annually just runs with the theme, resulting this year in a winsome annual show that combines paintings, mixed media and crafts. This year's theme is the garden at Kahlo's Blue House in Mexico City.


As long as one is not too prickly about the repetition of Kahlo's familiar face all around the gallery, then there is much to admire. Especially rewarding is the project in which each Phoenix Frida creates her own birdcage as a metaphor for Kahlo's isolated life. Annalisa Rios, for instance, used a Barbie doll complete with a flower-entwined, long brown braid atop its head and Kahlo's iconic "unibrow" painted on."Barbie/Frida" stares at two blank canvases inside the birdcage as a ceramic monkey, representing Kahlo's pet, hangs on from the outside.


Rios and the nine other women in the group all draw from Hispanic culture, blending in images associated with the Kahlo's folk art and feminine mystique: a broken heart, a skull, butterflies, flowers and vibrant colors. Kathy Cano Murillo, in "Fridas in My Garden," takes those symbols over the top with a Warhol-style panel of nine Frida faces on a giant bed of silk flowers and butterflies. Nearby are Murillo's "nichos," mini-altars enshrining Kahlo's face, using materials like clay, beads and glitter.


Perhaps the stand-out painter in the group is Emily Costello, whose confident, brightly colored renderings of Kahlo bring out her exquisite beauty. The continued iconography of Frida Kahlo is in good hands with these Latina artists.

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