Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art in Dallas

Starting Feb. 16, Dallas natives and guests can visit the Dallas Museum of Art to take a glimpse at the monumental painting, Flores Mexicanas, which was stored and hidden from public view for nearly 90 years.

How can a 9-by-12 foot mural go unnoticed for almost a century, you ask? Creator and artist Alferdo Ramos Martinez gifted the painting as a wedding present to famed aviators Anne and Charles Lindbergh, who met in Mexico City, back in 1929. Flores Mexicanas was then later entrusted to the Missouri Historical Society by the Lindberghs, where it was placed in storage and remained off view. Or that was the case until it was recently uncovered and, debuting for only the second time, in Dallas.

“Alferdo Ramos Martinez was among the most versatile artists of his day and Flores Mexicanas is one of his crowning achievements.” – Dr. Mark A. Castro

Located at the top floor of the museum, the exhibit is easy to spot — the entrance walls are painted a charming dark green with hand-drawn floral stencils decorated throughout. The exhibition is paired with an accompanying gallery. You’re greeted with a selection of work by other Modern Mexican artists like Maria Izquierdo, Diego Rivera, and even a rare sketch from Frida Kahlo.

These works of, and by, the new modern women in Mexico paid contribution to the creation of the country’s new national identity. Some of the common themes you’ll notice exploring the post-revolutionary art are politics, work labor, and rural life depicted from women during this transformative time in Mexican history.

Dr. Mark A. Castro, who joined the DMA back in September of last year, is the first curator for the museum’s Latin American Art collection, Flores Mexicanas being his first exhibition.

“This has been an amazing project for kicking off my time at the Dallas Museum of Art,” Dr. Castro added. “Alferdo Ramos Martinez was among the most versatile artists of his day and Flores Mexicanas is one of his crowning achievements.”

The second portion of the gallery is where you’re walked through the international career of Alferdo Ramos Martinez, whose painting practice changed dramatically after his move from Mexico City to Los Angeles in 1929. Martinez portraits transform from the romantic visions he painted in his native country to more rural stylized settings in Mexico that sold well with his new Hollywood customers.

However, displayed right front and center, is Martinez’s 15-years in the making painting, Flores Mexicanas. The painting illustrates four women in a peaceful landscape surrounded by lush flowers. Dr. Castro explained that there are two interpretations towards this piece: the women, who clearly carry different characteristics from each other, can either be a representation of Mexico’s diverse racial heritage or it’s an allegory of the four seasons. However you view it, the colors, details, and message behind this artwork is what makes it monumental.

Flores Mexicanas by Alfredo Ramos Martinez. (Photo by Imani Chet Lytle)

“We’re incredibly excited to build a story around this beautiful masterpiece by Ramos Martinez and the way in which it becomes a vehicle for exploring issues of gender in Modern Mexican art,” said Dr. Agustin Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “The painting’s fascinating history also gives us a chance to highlight the influence of Ramos Martinez on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border and contribute to important contemporary conversations about the fluidity of that border through the lens of art.”

And Texas is a great example of what it means to be a “mixing pot” when it comes to culture. A high percentage of people living in Dallas are of Latin or Hispanic heritage and the Dallas Museum of Art is aware of that. Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art is the museum’s way to match the dialogue of what this city is supposed to represent – history, culture, and acceptance. Included in free general admission, the exhibit is on view through Sept. 20, where it will then travel to MUNAL to be part of a new exhibition inspired by the DMA’s presentation.

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Imani Chet Lytle

Imani Chet spends most of her time behind the scenes at People Newspapers handling design and marketing tasks, but you can occasionally catch her out and about covering the latest museum openings, musical concerts, and delicious new food menus in the area – and all through her trusty dusty iPhone camera. Catch some of the action on our instagram page: @peoplenewspapers

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