Frida Kahlo’s home, art inspiration brought to life at San Antonio Botanical Garden

The new exhibit “Frida Kahlo Oasis” features replicas of the artist’s home and art supplies

SAN ANTONIO – An emblematic sight of Mexico’s art, culture and heritage debuted Saturday morning at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

The new exhibit, “Frida Kahlo Oasis” features replicas of the Mexican artist’s iconic blue home or Casa Azúl to give visitors insight on the inspiration behind her famous portraits.

The team at the garden transformed an unused area with only a few trees and small elephant ear plants, into an oasis with great attention to detail. Visitors are first greeted with a replica of the bright blue facade that’s adorned with green window railings and shutters. Once through the main entrance, a lush landscape lined with lava rocks from Mexico guides visitors through the exhibit. More replicas of the blue walls are strategically placed with pictures, portraits and facts of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s home.

“The walls (are) that iconic blue, which, by the way, we had matched to be exact with the museum,” Sabina Carr, CEO of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, said. “(The Casa Azúl Museum was) incredibly supportive and cooperative with the folks (at Phantasus) who have built the show out for us. And so, this is our stylized version of Casa Azúl.”

Phantasus is the Mexico City-based artisan workshop that also took part in San Antonio’s official Day of the Dead celebrations.

Phantasus is the Mexico City-based artisan workshop responsible for the replicas of the "Frida Kahlo Oasis". They also created pieces of art for San Antonio’s official Day of the Dead celebrations. (PHANTASUS TALLER ENSAMBLE)

The oasis showcases intimate parts of her life and work, including the replica of her desk and paints created by artisans at Phantasus. Even the horticulture is its own form of artistry both at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and in the life of Frida Kahlo.

“The love of gardening (and) the love of nature (and) plants, that’s really what connected us to Frida Kahlo to celebrate her life (and) artwork,” Andrew Labay, director of Horticulture at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, said. “She absolutely loved gardening. She painted a lot of plants in her portraits.”

More than a hundred kinds of plants, including native Mexican plants, make up the new shade garden.

“Her family told us that she was also a gardener, very passionate about gardening and plants in which she surrounded himself with in Casa Azúl when she and Diego Rivera took over her father’s house and just wanted it to be back to regional Mexico,” Carr said.

The world-renowned Mexican artists and Frida Kahlo’s life partner, Diego Rivera is also represented at the exhibit through plants like the calla lily, which Rivera celebrated many times in his paintings.

“(At Casa Azúl,) he was also part of the garden,” Labay said. “(Rivera) had a large pre-Columbian art collection that he displayed on the pyramid that we see (here at the Frida Kahlo Oasis) and in other places in the garden.”

The garden hopes visitors will take advantage of this unique experience made possible through extensive research, visits to Mexico City and with the guidance and support of the family and Estate of Frida Kahlo.

“(The exhibit was made possible through) the very dear and deep relationships between San Antonio and the City of Mexico,” Carr said. “It just felt like the right thing at the right time (to honor) such a world-renowned artist.”

The exhibit also features larger than life sculptures of the animals Frida loved including the butterfly, monkey, parrot, Xoloitzcuintli and more. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

The Frida Kahlo Oasis is included with general admission and membership.

The San Antonio Botanical Garden has a variety of events including art history lectures, culinary experiences, cocktail workshops and family-friendly events to engage visitors along with the Frida Kahlo Oasis. To learn more and register for upcoming events, click here.

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About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.