Unibrow Diaries

Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite painters. Seeing her work takes me away into a dark & treacherous place, which I rather enjoy. The only similarity, I have with the revered Mexican painter is the eyebrow. Naturally, I do mean one eyebrow.

Growing up, I had one funky looking eyebrow. Everyone used to tease my unibrow. It made me look sinister and as far from the handsome man  I could be. My mother always discouraged me from plucking my eyebrows. She plucked them off and it left her longing for full beautiful eye brows.

However, I decided to take the plunge one day. I was curious to see what it looked and felt like to have two eyebrows. Strategically, I started plucking. Pain didn’t equate beauty. Therefore, I took a more dramatic approach. I took my electric shaver and went down the middle. There it was my face with two eyebrows staring back.

Since I didn’t get them professionally trimmed, the eyebrows were uneven. Then my mother noticed the difference, while everyone fancied the new look. She wanted me to look like Frida Kahlo and complained that it was a simply awful idea. From then on, I had two very bushy brows and lost my sinister looking man title.

Artists

When I was a kid, my mother took a trip to Mexico City. She told me about how amazing it was to visit Frida Kahlo’s house. During the visit, she brought back Frida’s biography. The book was filled with pictures of Kahlo’s most intense paintings.

As an impressionable child, the images shocked and frightened me. It actually gave me nightmares for a while. I didn’t tell my parents this. However, many nightmares the paintings gave me, curiosity took over. I still looked at the book and developed a great degree of fascination with her art.

As an adult, I grew to admire and understand Frida Kahlo’s art more. In Buenos Aires, I went for a trip to the Museum of Latin American Art. They had a Kahlo painting on display. I was beyond excited to see one of her paintings in person.

Also at the museum was a Diego Rivera painting, Frida Kahlo’s husband. My mom loved his art too. She actually bought a bevy of posters to decorate our house with. Till this day my family home looks like a Mexican restaurant. Unfortunately, we don’t always have chips and salsa.

Seeing a favorite artist’s painting in person is one of the true joys of life. I remember seeing my first Andy Warhol painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Claude Monet at London’s National Gallery. It’s the equivalent of seeing a piece of history only read about it in books.

My most memorable art experience happened in Madrid. Spain’s capital is the nation’s high culture hub. The Prado is a shrine to the Spanish creative senses. I learned about everyone from Goya to El Greco in those proper walls of art. Nothing could prepare me for seeing Pablo Picasso’s Guernica at El Centro De Arte Reina Sofia.

That day, I entered the museum and scrambled to see the painting. In a dark room shining brightly from a distance with grey, black and white hues was the Guernica. It was grander than I anticipated.

Staring at the painting is an emotional experience. The significance and history behind it make it a historic piece. I analyzed the painting carefully. Standing up close to it then taking a seat to see it from afar. The cows and men all perished during the Guernica bombing were there with Picasso’s Cubism style of art.  It left me glued; the hues depicted were bleak and perfectly captured the misery of that dreadful day. The Guernica was one of those pieces, which was hard to leave.

I roamed around El Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It was very accomplishing to see the vast art collection. However, I’ll never forget the Guernica. It’s been years, since I last met eyes with Picasso’s masterpiece. I am truly eager to see and analyze it again one day. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Mexican, Impressionist, Pop, Renaissance and even Avant-garde art in my lifetime. Going to museums will always be one of my favorite pastimes.

Art + Rock n’ Roll

Art museums are the grand dames of exciting cultural outings. They certainly ignite wanderlust in my soul. Of course, there are those who speak a bit too loud at museums. “Oh this artist is an impressionist” &” Frida Kahlo painted this & it reflects her tortured soul.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, they sound incredibly pretentious.

Often times, I just switch on my iPOD & jam out to the hipper than thou “Bjork/Talking Heads/Violent Femmes” playlist to drown out the annoyance. Although, I have to say I’ve seen some absolutely amazing exhibits.

My most memorable exhibits were not the typical Andy Warhol & Pablo Picasso fare. However, those were incredibly interesting & remarkable. There were the not so pleasant smelling exhibits such the ketchup splattered on canvas, which made me crave French fries. A village in India made from soup cans was the most interesting exhibit. Soup cans & ketchup are household goods. For someone with loose screws & lots of imagination, it is art. For these fine folks an art brush & fancy colors just won’t do.

Going to advertising school equates drawing. I’d always been more of a wordsmith, but secretly wanted to sketch. Writers & painters live in two different worlds & rarely jet set to each other’s galaxy. My artist friend Jackie took time to teach me the art of sketching. It all commenced with a water bottle. I had to follow every contour carefully. I studied the object closely & after careful sketching, it looked like a water bottle on paper.

Soon, stick figures went the way of vinyl records. I sketched my own portrait as well as a few friends. Not everyone loved it, but it was entertaining. Art in general is subjective. One of my favorite artists is Jean-Michel Basquiat. I love his funky use of reds & yellows. Although, it’s world renowned pop art, not everyone would classify his intense paintings beautiful. There are the traditionalists who prefer Monet’s soothing greens & interpretations of London’s iconic Big Ben.

Many artists felt unsure of their work. As the cliché saying goes, ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder,'” so is art. Personally, I love how culture shocked I’m staring into a Frida Kahlo painting. Although, my sketching won’t hang in a museum, I enjoy the process. It feels like a miniature holiday for the many minutes it takes to sketch a bottle (or other objects).

Regardless of what people think, I’m gonna keep on drawing. It’s always more fun to sketch & analyze art with some rock n’ roll in the background.

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