The Arts

June 30, 2011

For the Love of Art

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Written by: Nydia O
Marcela Ronquillo Hinojosa and Hilda Trujillo Soto

I met Marcela years ago in our native town of Matamoros, Mexico, she later married Baltazar Hinojosa, also from Matamoros, who successfully served as its “Presidente Municipal” (Mayor) from 2005-2007.  Marcela became, as it is referred to in Mexico, the first lady of Matamoros and head of DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia), a full time volunteer job the wife of a Mayor automatically inherits as her husband is sworn into office. The mission of DIF is being the public agency governing social assistance, with family oriented values and perspective, that promotes solidarity and leadership among vulnerable groups through programs and support networks, to strengthen the integral development and the common good.

In January of 2011 I attended the opening of an exhibit at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art which included a conference with keynote speaker; Hilda Trujillo Soto, Director of the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul, Diego Rivera and Anahuacalli Museums of Mexico City. At this time I heard  Marcela was the new director for the museum and this, her first exhibit. Having volunteered with the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum for several years I know that curating and staging an exhibit of that magnitude is not an easy task, I was very impressed especially when I heard the complete story.

Marcela Ronquillo de Hinojosa  was serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art when unfortunately the museum’s director resigned leaving the museum with a pending upcoming art exhibition to be organized which happened to be an exhibit of another native of Matamoros; Gerardo De Leon Valdez, or as everybody knew him; Franchute. Marcela knew she had to step in and help out especially because Franchute’s life had unfortunately and unexpectedly ended only a few months prior, “I had sentimental reasons” she said to me. The exhibit was a huge success, many people had the opportunity of enjoying Franchute’s legacy of color and imagination through his famous Matadors, Angels, Harlequins, Mimes and little Fridas.

The little Fridas were a premonition of what was to come next; the exhibit “Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray & La Casa Azul de Frida in  January of 2011,  an exhibit that reacquainted me with Marcela.  This photographic exhibit was to be the first for Marcela as the Executive Director of the Museum, a service she provides pro-bono, for the love of art and culture. Fate had other plans as Marcela traveled to Mexico City on a private matter when her and some friends decided to visit the Museum Casa Azul; Frida’s childhood home in what was once the town of Coyoacan, now a suburb of Mexico City. Thousands of new items such as photographs, clothing, jewelry and more owned by Frida and Diego had recently been released and were currently under assessment and restoration. The group met and talked extensively with the museum’s archives director who recommended they send an e-mail to Hilda, the museum director, and request a meeting with her. The meeting was scheduled for the following day. Most of the group had traveled back to Brownsville so Marcela attended the meeting with Hilda and was promised seven (7) artifacts to be exhibited in Brownsville along with the Muray photographs.

Needless to say, Marcela’s polished political skills and charm managed to persuade the museum director to lend the Fine Arts Museum over forty (40) of Frida’s personal items.  These items consisted of personal letters, one of her diaries, an X-Ray of Frida’s life challenging injury, her passport VISA and some drawings.  Never, had the Casa Azul Museum,  lend any of Frida’s items to another museum, this was a great gift from fate; a project and dream whose time had come.

When I asked Marcela what was her argument to convince Hilda to lend her these items Marcela replied saying that Brownsville is a border city, a port of entry to the United States where she wanted our local youth to learn about the relationship of Frida Kahlo with the United States.  Documents presented details of Frida’s multiple surgeries performed in New York, her visits to Detroit with Diego, her letters to Henry Ford, Rockefeller and Nicolas Muray with whom she is said to have had a love affair, her political views at that time and her passport VISA among several other items never seen outside of the Casa Azul before.  The opening reception went very well, it was followed by another reception where Frida’s great niece; Cristina Kahlo was the keynote speaker.

Marcela is now getting ready for another great event; “DALI ILLUSTRATES DANTE’S DIVINE COMEDY” exhibit to be opened October 22, 2011 through January 4, 2012. When I asked Marcela about her greatest challenge she said “to keep the museum financially stable, we are hurting right now, and we are preparing a plan”. Knowing Marcela and how the citizens of Brownsville love and support the arts, I have no doubts that she will succeed.

On the photograph Marcela Ronquillo sitting  on the left and Hilda Trujillo sitting on the right during their meeting at Casa Azul  in Mexico City.


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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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