Frida Kahlo outside the Michigan Central Depot in April 1932. A Detroit News reporter asked her if she was an artist. Her answer. "Yes, the greatest in the world."
Photo: The Detroit News
Station performance pitch:
To stage a multimedia reading that tells the true, epic tale of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Depression-era Detroit. More than 100 rare images- ranging from the first day the artists arrive at Michigan Central Depot; Rivera creating the DIA murals and Kahlo creating her first masterpieces; violent labor strikes paralyzing the city - can be cast in huge size on an Imagination Station wall.
Under the images, Kresge Literary Arts Fellow Louis Aguilar and WDET reporter Martina Guzman co-narrate a reading, called The Troublemakers, based on the passionate words said by the artists during their stay, along with the voices of their fierce critics and defenders. Also on stage will be community leaders who will read the true words of the artists as well as architect Albert Kahn, UAW founder Walter Reuther and the conservative leaders who helped convince tens of thousands of Detroiters the murals must be destroyed. A musical score based on factory sounds collected at Ford Rouge has been composed by Jessica Hernandez.
The fight ignited by Frida and Diego is a prototype of how we fight today. In this tough factory town that was deeply divided politically and seemingly on the verge of economic collapse, the artists became lightning rods. Some of the words critics used to attack the artists: Class warfare. Socialist. Unamerican.
The artists’ legacy: Groundbreaking, modern art.
The Troublemakers: Frida and Diego in Detroit is the work of Louis Aguilar, whose mother lived in Corktown during the time Kahlo and Rivera spent 11 months in Detroit.
Aguilar is an award-winning journalist, a former director of an independent Latino film festival, a former programming consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, and author. In 2010, he was awarded a Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship to pursue his research on Rivera and Kahlo.
An article of Aguilars' work
Critics agree a young Frida Kahlo produced her first masterpieces in Detroit. Below: "Me Standing on the Border of U.S. and Mexico."
A fierce critic of this vote-up forum would point out an irony: The Rivera mural would not have happened if it required approval of the masses for commission. Likewise, had the “frenzied public” had their way the masterpiece inside the DIA would have been destroyed. Thank God for brave visionaries who get glimpses of the future and withstand the tide of ill-informed public opinion.