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Frida Kahlo exhibit from NYC headed for Tucson

In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, photo in Tucson, Ariz., the front of the upcoming Tucson Botanical Gardens exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” is shown under construction. The exhibit, which broke attendance records in New York City during its six-month run there last year, will debut in Tucson on Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)
October 04, 2016 - 1:20 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. - The blockbuster Frida Kahlo exhibit in New York City that attracted the likes of even Beyoncé is finding a temporary home in Tucson.

"Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life" broke attendance records at the New York Botanical Garden during its six-month run last year, attracting over 500,000 visitors.

The large exhibit will debut in Arizona on Oct. 10 at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. It hasn't travelled to any other gardens and likely will not.

"To me it's transformative and it's a way for us to connect people in a whole new way," executive director Michelle Conklin said. "We don't know what to expect but I do know in New York they hit all attendance records in their 150-year history. So we know we're gonna break all of our attendance records in our 40-year history."

The Mexican artist, long revered as one of the most influential painters in Latin America, has gained wide popularity in pop culture in the past several years. Beyoncé dressed up as her one Halloween and last year posted pictures on social media of herself and her family touring the New York City.

The garden exhibit is a replica of Kahlo's own creation in Casa Azul, her home in Coyoacán, a Mexico City borough where the artist lived most of her life. It includes cacti, marigolds, a scale version of the pyramid at Casa Azul and even a replica of Kahlo's home studio. The Tucson Botanical Gardens will host poetry walks, lectures and native plant tours during the exhibit's expected eight-month run. The garden's cafe, which is open daily, will feature dishes inspired by Kahlo's personal cookbook.

Conklin said the exhibit came to fruition through connections with the American Public Gardens Association, of which she is a member. A colleague helped facilitate the exhibit's tour in Tucson, and Conklin attended the New York exhibit last year and picked out which items would be on display in Tucson. Only the original paintings and some historical items from the New York show will not make it to Tucson because there wasn't enough space.

Transporting the exhibit was a challenge on its own, but the Tucson gardens also struggled with compressing what was spread out over 150 acres in New York to its 5-acre facility. Conklin said the exhibit's designer, the Tony Award-winning stage designer Scott Pask, devoted a lot of time to helping set up the Tucson exhibit. Pask is a University of Arizona graduate.

Mexican Consul Ricardo Pineda has also been working with the gardens and said the exhibit is a great way to get people to notice Tucson as a cultural attraction.

"This very specific event demonstrates the Tucson is not only a tourist space a tourist venue, but also a cultural worth," Pineda said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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