Sunday, April 20, 2008

Medical anomolies and a uni-brow

what more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?

M and I had a wonderful day yesterday. We met up with two great new friends: The Village Carpenter and her partner Presbyfruit for a beautiful day in Philadelphia!

And what better way to spend a beautiful sunny April afternoon then to go to the museums!

Our first stop was the Mutter Museum for all things weird and gross (I love this kind of stuff). We the Soap Woman - she was buried in a very high alkaline type soil which turned her into a big bar of soap!

I don't know...something about showering with a human sized bar of soap kind of made me feel dirty.

We also saw a HUGE ovarian cyst that was bigger than a basketball, an enlarged colon

and a plaster cast of co-joined twins Chang and Ang (who between them had 21 children...ew).

(photos courtesy of

Some of the stuff was pretty interesting...some quite disturbing as well - lot's of jarred miscarried fetuses that were hard to look at.

After almost 2 hours of looking at diseased livers and cancer ridden lungs, enlarged colons and faces sliced up like pieces of bread....we were really hungry and found a nice little spot called Jack's Firehouse which was right across the street from the Eastern Penitentiary.

We sat out side in the warm spring air with thick castle like walls of the Penitentiary creating a lovely ambiance.

(Hey - do we know how to have fun or what?)

Yummy salads, smoked chicken sandwich and pan seared salmon were consumed over wonderful conversation. It's a lot of fun getting to know new people and we really are enjoying our new friendship with these two ladies.

Along with the check came 4 chocolate chip cookies...warm and gooey from the oven.....mmmmmmmm...yum! Beats the heck out of a mint wrapped in plastic that is for sure! Very nice touch!

We had tickets to the 3:00 showing of the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Casually walking down to the museum - trying to burn off some of those lunch calories we consumed, we got to enjoy some of the charm of the neighborhoods surrounding the museum district of Philly. There were quite a few folks doing the "Rocky thing" by running up the top of the steps and triumphantly raising their arms!

With more than an hour to kill before the Kahlo exhibit, we checked out one of the nearby exhibits of American Art. I think the Thomas Eakins collection was probably my favorite by far, but I loved the Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Even the Village Carpenter gal got to drool over some fine examples of early American furniture!

The main event was definitely a high point in the day for me though. I am not sure what I was expecting, but the Frida Kahlo exhibit was brilliant. I have read about her in Art History class and I've seen prints of her work over the years, but to see them in person and to hear her story really made me appreciate the artist even more.

Kahlo's paintings are often dark and show the pain she was experiencing. "Henry Ford Hospital"was painted after she had a miscarriage. The imagery is shocking and harsh: Kahlo lying on a blood soaked hospital bed, a dead fetus is above her and also a snail representing how long the miscarriage took. "The Two Fridas" represented the depression she experienced when Diego Riveria divorced her. In one image she holds a small portrait of Diego which from which an artery is loops through her heart and back out to the second image of her self and ends as she holds a surgical clamp trying to stop her heart from bleeding.

Her painting: "A Few Small Nips" was painted about a drunken man who stabbed his wife wife to death. The blood spills all around the bed and room and is even dotted along the frame itself.

Another very harsh painting was "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale". Hale is represented by three distinct figures - first a small black figure as she starts her descent from the building, then falling among the clouds and finally the bloody landing and an inscription written in blood red that says: "In New York City on the 21st of October 1938, at 6:00 in the morning, Dorothy Hale committed suicide by throwing herself from a very high window in the Hampshire House. In her memory [...], this retablo was executed by Frida Kahlo."

Originally commissioned to paint a portrait of Hale by the publisher of Vanity Fair Magazine to be given to Hales mother as a gift , Kahlo painted it in ex-voto style which is a devotion or testimony of the person's death. The publisher was horrified at the painting and did not think it was appropriate as a memorial portrait to be given to Hale's grieving mother.

"The Love Embrace of the Universe", "My Dress Hangs There" and "Moses" were three paintings that weren't nearly as dark and had so much vivid imagery in them I wish I had time to just stare at them for a while longer. Unfortunately, the lines were long and it was very crowded, it was very hard to get too close to them.

I definitely have a new found appreciation for Frida Kahlo's art. She is not for everyone, that is for certain.

What a great day! Dark and macabre brightened up with great new friends and a warm chocolate chip cookie on top!

Life is good!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Village Carpenter said...

You said "faces sliced up like bread." ew.

It was a great day! We had a blast with the two of you. : )

...but, no more medical oddities museums....k?

Shazza said...

Oh...OK. Chicken!

dive said...

Frida certainly had a painful life and if you're in the mood for her paintings they are amazing.

I love your museum! We have the Hunterian Museum (attached to the Royal College of Surgeons) in London, which has similar wonders, such as a whole (beautifully lit) wall of diseased penises and the Bishop of Durham's anus in a jar (not - I hasten to add - the current Bishop).

sam said...

hey to you shazza. awhile back you posted a comment on my blog. thought i'd come visit and see what you were doing. i like it and will visit again. that comment you left oh so long ago was comforting; and i thank you for taking the time.


sam said...

hey to you shazza. awhile back you you posted a comment on my blog. want you to know i found it comforting and am appreciative. so i thought i'd come visit you. read some of your stuff and will be back to visit again.
sam at quiet would be nice.

Shazza said...

Hey Sam,
Thanks for stopping by. Pull up a chair and make yourself comfy - hope to see you 'round these parts again soon!


Presbyfruit said...

diseased penises and a bishop's anus???

I feel cheated.