Frida and Rose

Until I looked at Google today, I had forgotten that it is Frida Kahlo’s 103rd birthday. I wanted something appropriate to commemorate the occasion so I went out after dinner tonight to find something Mexican to photograph in her honor. A little over a mile from my house, this is what I found. I’ve seen this place for years but had never stopped before.

These murals are on an old mortuary building; the newer part of the mortuary is around the corner. They were painted in 1998 by a Phoenix artist, Rose Johnson. Almost everyone knows some of Frida’s story but people outside of Phoenix may not know anything about Rose. She was born and educated in England and  moved to the US when she was in her 20s, settling in Phoenix. She was well-known and respected in the local art community. In 1998, she moved to Bisbee, AZ, a small arts enclave in southern Arizona but still had many ties to Phoenix. She was strongly influenced by Mexican art.

Tragically, a little over a year ago, she died in Bali, where she had recently relocated, from acute alcohol poisoning as a result of ingesting liquor that had been laced with methanol. Hers was the 23rd fatality in 10 days from that cause in Bali. She was only 48 (Frida was 47 when she died).

This mural is one of her best-known works.

You can read more about Rose here or see an interview of her while she still lived in Bisbee, soon after visiting Bali. An extensive article appears here. If you click to make the images larger, you can see more of the interesting detail.


13 thoughts on “Frida and Rose

  1. Frida is one of my favorite artists along Georgia…I saw a documentary of her life with my kids this spring and was deeply moved by her spirit and her work. What a beautiful work Rose has done – so mauch talent…such a sad story. I have always wanted to go to Bisbee…have you been Candace.
    Thank you for sharing this …very interesting post and lovely tribute to them both.


  2. Lovely little informative series! One of your shots is so similar to one I found today, before I knew what you had posted. I will email you! Great minds… :):)


  3. Wow. Wow. Wow. Great post! I had never heard of Rose Johnson before! I’ve spend the past hour or so trolling the ‘Net to read about her and to see her work.

    How sad that she died so young. Incidentally, Bisbee has been on my “to-do” list for a long time … I really need to plan a trip soon!


  4. What an interesting post! That’s some mural! It’s also interesting that it doesn’t seem to have been vandalized: that shows a lot of respect for the artist and her art.


  5. this post is brilliant! and thank you for sharing. Frida was before her time. i adore her work. at times it is blatant and other times, it is a mystery to me. i adore that.
    hello friend.


  6. i relish the expressions she uses on the different faces..your series here are so nice..I especially like the 2nd to last with the greenery and trees peeking over….I will go to the links for my art lesson today..


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