Wondering About Jo Bartas & Frida Kahlo

When I pick I am often surprised to find that some items are still for sale as I think they are great finds, but not everybody sees what I see. A few years back I found two hand colored lithos by Jo Bartas, a Mexican artist at a local Salvation Army store. One was framed and one was not and they were in not so great condition with some holes, tears and wrinkles in the paper. I wanted to restore them ASAP so I could preserve the pair.

Bartas is associated with another major artist from his time period and location, but damned if I could remember the guy’s name or his wife’s for that matter … Frida or something like that. I did get frames for the Bartas lithos. They were preserved and could no longer be damaged any further than they already were. Bravo for me, friend to millions of artists, known and unknown.

And I found something out about Bartas. The one litho I could find on-line was priced at $150.00, and these were part of a set of women in Latin American costumes because they were numbered. I wondered how many sets were made. I wondered how many plates were created. I wondered how rare they were. I wondered, I wondered.

Bartas was a contemporary of Diego Rivera. Still could not remember the wife’s name, though, but her haunting portrait kept flashing before my mind’s eyes. It’s the connected eyebrows that got me. Something I later looked up and wrote down so I didn’t forget again.

Frida. Frida Kahlo who endured polio, impalement from the abdomen through the vagina, alcohol, cigarettes, scar tissue pain from surgeries, miscarriages, failed marriages and connected eyebrows to become a noted 20th Century artist. Diego was her final husband and I don’t think she lived past 50.

How does Bartas fit into all this? I don’t know. They might never have met. Very little is known about Bartas according to my artist expert friend. He or she (Jo could be either) lived on the fringes of the greater, more known contemporaries.

I cried a lot last night, feeling that on the whole, my life is a failed attempt at many things.



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