3 Iconic Paintings by Frida Kahlo Get Reborn as Vans Skate Shoes

Attention Frida Kahlo tchotchke hounds.

You can scratch that itch, even if your summer itinerary doesn’t include Mexico City (or Nashville, Tennessee, where the Frist Museum is hosting Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection through September 2).

Taking its cue from Doc Marten’s Museum Collection, Vans is releasing three shoes inspired by some of the painter’s most iconic works, 1939’s The Two Fridas, 1940’s Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, and—for those who prefer a more subtly Frida-inspired shoe, 1954’s refreshingly fruity Viva la Vida.

Vans’ limited edition Frida Kahlo collection hits the shelves June 29. Expect it to be snapped up quickly by the Waffleheads, Vans’ dedicated group of collectors and customizers, so don’t delay.

If this line doesn’t tickle your fancy, there is of course an abundance of Frida Kahlo tribute footwear on Etsy, everything from huaraches and Converse All-Stars to socks and baby booties.

via Juxtapoz/MyModernMet

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Visit the Largest Collection of Frida Kahlo’s Work Ever Assembled: 800 Artifacts from 33 Museums, All Free Online

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

19th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints Creatively Illustrate the Inner Workings of the Human Body

Folks with a passing knowledge of ukiyo-e, the Japanese woodblock print art form popular in the 17th through 19th centuries, will be familiar with its landscapes, as well as its portraits of courtesans and kabuki actors. But often these prints were educational, demonstrated by these very odd anatomical prints that promote good health as it relates to our internal workings.

Long before animated monsters warned us about our mucus-filled chests, Japanese artists like Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) filled the guts of these men and women with little workers, making sure the human body worked like a functioning village or town.




In the first print, Inshoku Yojo Kagami (“Mirror of the Physiology of Drinking and Eating”), a man dines on fish and drinks sake. Inside, little men scurry about a pool wrapped in intestines, stoke a fire under the heart, all the while a scholar keeps reference materials nearby. Down below lonely figures guard the “urine gate” and the “feces gate,” surely one of the worst jobs in all the body economy.

One of Kunisada’s students created a print for the women, focusing on the reproductive organs, called Boji Yojo Kagami (“Rules of Sexual Life”). Keen eyed viewers will note that the miniature workers here are all women, so at least there’s some equality at play.

The two prints were meant as instructional, pointing out best health practices, and warning against overindulgence and excess.

Other prints are just as inventive: a back and abdomen covered in children playing familiar games; another featuring popular kabuki actors standing in for various organs. (Now, that is just crying out for a modern remake). The last print shows a pregnant woman whose belly contains Tainai jukkai no zu (Ten realms within the body), a Buddhist idea that you can read more about here. As for their function inside the womb, that is for others of a higher consciousness to discern.

via Spoon & Tamago

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

How to Rescue a Wet, Damaged Book: A Handy Visual Primer

How to save those wet, damaged books? The question has to be asked. Above, you can watch a visual primer from the Syracuse University Libraries--people who know something about taking care of books. It contains a series of tips--some intuitive, some less so--that will give you a clear action plan the next time water and paper meet.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

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In 1886, the US Government Commissioned 7,500 Watercolor Paintings of Every Known Fruit in the World: Download Them in High Resolution

T.S. Eliot asks in the opening stanzas of his Choruses from the Rock, “where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” The passage has been called a pointed question for our time, in which we seem to have lost the ability to learn, to make meaningful connections and contextualize events. They fly by us at superhuman speeds; credible sources are buried between spurious links. Truth and falsehood blur beyond distinction.

But there is another feature of the 21st century too-often unremarked upon, one only made possible by the rapid spread of information technology. Vast digital archives of primary sources open up to ordinary users, archives once only available to historians, promising the possibility, at least, of a far more egalitarian spread of both information and knowledge.




Those archives include the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection, “over 7,500 paintings, drawings, and wax models commissioned by the USDA between 1886 and 1942,” notes Chloe Olewitz at Morsel. The word “pomology,” “the science and practice of growing fruit,” first appeared in 1818, and the degree to which people depended on fruit trees and fruit stores made it a distinctively popular science, as was so much agriculture at the time.

But pomology was growing from a domestic science into an industrial one, adopted by “farmers across the United States,” writes Olewitz, who “worked with the USDA to set up orchards to serve emerging markets” as “the country’s most prolific fruit-producing regions began to take shape.” Central to the government agency’s growing pomological agenda was the recording of all the various types of fruit being cultivated, hybridized, inspected, and sold from both inside the U.S. and all over the world.

Prior to and even long after photography could do the job, that meant employing the talents of around 65 American artists to “document the thousands and thousands of varieties of heirloom and experimental fruit cultivars sprouting up nationwide.” The USDA made the full collection public after Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgins submitted a Freedom of Information Act request in 2015.

Higgins saw the project as an example of “the way free speech issues intersect with questions of copyright and public domain,” as he put it. Historical government-issued fruit watercolors might not seem like the obvious place to start, but they’re as good a place as any. He stumbled on the collection while either randomly collecting information or acquiring knowledge, depending on how you look at it, “challenging himself to discover one new cool public domain thing every day for a month.”

It turned out that access to the USDA images was limited, “with high resolution versions hidden behind a largely untouched paywall.” After investing $300,000, they had made $600 in fees in five years, a losing proposition that would better serve the public, the scholarly community, and those working in-between if it became freely available.

You can explore the entirety of this tantalizing collection of fruit watercolors, ranging in quality from the workmanlike to the near sublime, and from unsung artists like James Marion Shull, who sketched the Cuban pineapple above, Ellen Isham Schutt, who brings us the Aegle marmelos, commonly called “bael” in India, further up, and Deborah Griscom Passmore, whose 1899 Malus domesticus, at the top, describes a U.S. pomological archetype.

It’s easy to see how Higgins could become engrossed in this collection. Its utilitarian purpose belies its simple beauty, and with 3,800 images of apples alone, one could get lost taking in the visual nuances—according to some very prolific naturalist artists—of just one fruit alone. Higgins, of course, created a Twitter bot to send out random images from the archive, an interesting distraction and also, for people inclined to seek it out, a lure to the full USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection.

At what point does an exploration of these images tip from information into knowledge? It's hard to say, but it’s unlikely we would pursue either one if that pursuit didn’t also include its share of pleasure. Enter the USDA's Pomological Watercolor Collection here to new and download over 7,500 high-resolution digital images like those above.

via Morsel.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Cartoonist Lynda Barry Teaches You How to Draw

Friend, are you paralyzed by your ironclad conviction that you can't draw?

Professor Chewbacca aka Professor Old Skull aka cartoonist Lynda Barry has had quite enough of that nonsense!

So stop dissembling, grab a pen and a hand-sized piece of paper, and follow her instructions to Anne Strainchamps, host of NPR's To The Best Of Our Knowledge, below.

It’s better to throw yourself into it without knowing precisely what the ten minute exercise holds (other than drawing, of course).

We know, we know, you can’t, except that you can. Like Strainchamps, you’re probably just rusty.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly if things look “terrible.”

In Barry’s view, that’s relative, particularly if you were drawing with your eyes closed.

A neurology nerd, Barry cites Girija Kaimal, Kendra Ray, and Juan Muniz’ study Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants' Responses Following Art Making. It’s the action, not the subjective artistic merit of what winds up on the page that counts in this regard.

For more of Barry’s exercises and delightfully droll presence, check out this playlist on Dr. Michael Green's Graphic Medicine Channel.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine... Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Women Who Draw: Explore an Open Directory That Showcases the Work of 5,000+ Female Illustrators

The seemingly never-ending era of female artists laboring in the shadows cast by their male colleagues is coming to a close.

Ditto the tyranny of the male gaze.

Women Who Draw, a database of over 5,000 professional artists, offers a thrillingly diverse panoply of female imagery, all created, as the site’s name suggests, by artists who identify as women.

Launched by illustrators Julia Rothman and Wendy MacNaughton in response to a dismaying lack of gender parity among cover artists of a prominent magazine—in 2015, men were responsible for 92%—the site aims to channel work to female artists by boosting visibility.




To that end, each illustrator tossing her hat in the ring is required to upload an illustration of a woman, ideally a full body view, on a white background.

The result is an astonishing range of styles, from an international cast of creators.

Not surprisingly, the majority of contributors are based on the East Coast of the United States, but given the site’s mission to promote female illustrators of color, as well as LBTQ+ and other less visible groups, expect to see growing numbers from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central and South America.

In addition to indicating their location, artists can checklist their religion, orientation, and ethnicity/race. (Those who would check“white” or “straight” should be prepared to accept that those categories are tabled as “WWD encourages people to seek out underrepresented groups of women.”)

Bean counting aside, the personalities of individual contributors shine through.

Some, like Paris-based American Laura Park, choose explicit self-portraiture.

Vanessa Davis gives the lie to bikini season

SouthAsian illustrator Baani makes an impression, documenting women of her community even as she reinterprets tropes of Western art.

Pé-de-Ovo Studio corners the market on plushies.

Women Who Draw’s latest crowd-sourced project is concerned with personal stories of immigration.

Final words of encouragement from Lindsey Andrews, Assistant Art Director for the Penguin Young Readers Design Group:

Just keep putting your work out there in any form you can think of. Update your various social platforms regularly. Mail postcards of your work. Send emails. Network when you can. But, mainly, do what you love. Even if you have a portfolio full of commissioned pieces, I still like to see what you create when you get to create whatever you want. Also, let me know your process!

Submit your work here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC tonight, Monday, June 17 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Hear What’s Likely the Only Known Recording of Frida Kahlo’s Voice (1954)

Perhaps no artist in modern history, save Andy Warhol, has been so well documented, and self-documented, as Frida Kahlo, or has used documentary methods, surrealist and otherwise, to so unflinchingly confront ideas about disability, gender, sexuality, national identity, and relationships. These qualities make her the perfect celebrity artist for our times, but unlike the average 21st century star making art out of self-presentation, Kahlo’s voice has never been heard, though she lived in a time almost as saturated with mass media—of the radio, TV, and film variety—as our own.

That is, perhaps, until now, with the unearthing of what the National Sound Library of Mexico believes to be a recording of her voice, “taken from a pilot episode of 1955 radio show El Bachiller [“The Bachelor”],” writes Steph Harmon at The Guardian. The show “aired after her death in 1954,” likely the following year. Though the program does not introduce her by name, the presenter does refer to her as recently deceased, and she does read an essay about her husband Diego Rivera, which happens to be written by Frida Kahlo. The case seems fairly conclusive.




Previously the little evidence of what she sounded like came from written descriptions, such as French photographer Gisèle Freund’s characterization of her voice as “melodious and warm.” Hear for yourself what is very likely the recorded voice of Frida Kahlo in the audio above. In her typically florid yet unsparing style she paints a verbal portrait of Rivera full of unflattering physical detail and layers of emotion and admiration. In one English translation, she calls him “a huge, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze.

Rivera's "high, dark, extremely intelligent and big eyes rarely hold still. They almost pop out of their sockets because of their swollen and protuberant eyelids—like a toad’s.” His huge eyes seem “built especially for a painter of spaces and crowds.” The Mexican muralist, she says is like “an inscrutable monster.” These are the words of a writer, we must remember, who was passionately in love with her subject, but who did not pretend to ignore his physical oddities. As she had practiced loving herself, she loved and admired Rivera because of his unique appearance, not in spite of it.

Researchers are making continuing efforts to verify that the voice on the recoding is Kahlo and searching through about 1,300 other episodes of the show, recorded for Televisa Radio, to find out if there are any more recordings of her. Given Frida’s flamboyant persona and minor art stardom in her lifetime, it’s hard to imagine we won’t hear more of her, if this is in fact her, as other archives reveal their secrets.

Related Content:

Frida Kahlo’s Passionate Love Letters to Diego Rivera

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A Brief Animated Introduction to the Life and Work of Frida Kahlo

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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