A line of Frida Kahlo look-alikes starts down Norse Way and wraps around Village Road. As they reach the front and enter Picture This Gallery & Custom Framing, they are met with many more faces of Frida⎼surreal, naturalistic, a mosaic, even “Simpsons” and pineapple Frida paintings. That’s because at the annual Frida Kahlo Artists Exhibit reception and costume contest, everything is all Frida all the time.
During the reception, Frida look-alikes have fun taking group photos, those without costumes take pictures in the Frida cardboard cutout, and gallery owner Marisol Gomez’s heart is warmed as kids excitedly tell their parents how they learned about Frida Kahlo at school.
Especially amid Hispanic Heritage Month, Frida Kahlo is highly celebrated, but it would be hard to rival Gomez’ 18th annual Frida Kahlo tribute exhibit, open now through Nov. 3.
“We had Mexican independence day on Sept. 16 and I just thought it would be the perfect setting for her exhibit,” Gomez said. “She’s very iconic and very much ahead of her time. She’s viewed as ‘strength’ by so many people, not just women but men as well and from different backgrounds and different ages.”
The gallery requires original, fresh compositions of Frida and her iconic look. Accordingly, they receive a wide variety of art made with different techniques, styles and mediums.
The art that gets displayed is chosen by a jury appointed by Gomez, which has consisted of historians, art teachers, art history professors, and arts and entertainment writers. Their selections are chosen from photo slides without any information from or about the artist.
“I’m not part of the jury, because I submit sometimes as well,” Gomez said.
Throughout the years, as the gallery entered the digital age, the exhibit has grown not only to include art from the surrounding community, but from out of state and out of the country as well.
“For instance, this artist here, Sky, she’s never been in here; I’ve never met her, but her work is beautiful and she’s submitted for years now,” Gomez said.
She says the opposite of that notion is also helpful with the business side. Now, people will buy artwork from the store online without ever seeing it in person.
“When I very first started, I had no idea how to make a website. This was 1990,” Gomez said. “But now it’s so easy a lot of these websites are templates, you just drop an image and do a little narrative on it and boom it’s for sale.”
Specifically, Facebook and Instagram have become useful tools in promoting the Frida look-alike contest and artist reception on Sept. 30. She says once she got the hang of social media, hashtags etc., she made a Facebook event page for the reception. She checked the status of the page one day and saw that five people said they were going and eight were interested. A few days later, when she checked again, the page read 2,000 going and 5,000 interested.
That was when Gomez had to call on the cavalry, bringing her mom, dad, brother—anyone who could help her maintain order with such a large crowd.
This year, when it comes to organizing the masses, she is facing a literal roadblock. Construction on the sidewalk outside the storefront is set to begin the same day as the reception, though she has space behind the store she plans to utilize.
“I don’t want my Fridas stuck in cement,” Gomez said.
So if you want to join the fun, be sure to keep your shoes out of wet cement and meet up with Fridas at Picture This Gallery, located at 4130 Norse Way, this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit Picture This Gallery’s website.