Frida and Lila: A week of celebration

Frida and Lila: A week of celebration


BELOIT—The 75th annual Academy Awards will have special significance in Beloit. All eyes will be on singer Lila Downs, who will perform “Burn It Blue,” the Oscar-nominated song from the film Frida. Two days later, she will visit the Beloit College campus. “Lila Downs: World Music from Indigenous Mexico,” the final program of the 2002-03 Performing Arts and Lecture Series, will be at 8 p.m., March 27, at Eaton Chapel on the campus. Tickets are $12 ($8 senior citizens, $4 students).

The celebration will begin Friday evening, March 21, when the Beloit College film series presents the film Frida, nominated for six Academy Awards, including “Best Film.”

The film, which stars Mexican actress Salma Hayak and features Lila Downs performing much of the music, depicts the life of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s foremost painters, whose exciting art, revolutionary lifestyle and activities and commitment to traditional Mexican arts, made her a leading artist of the 20th century. The free film will be shown at 8 and 10 p.m. in the Wilson Theatre on the Beloit College campus.

The following Sunday, Lila Downs will appear on the Academy Awards program, performing her song with Brazilian Caetano Veloso, another great Latin American musician. Downs was originally scheduled to perform a concert that night at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., but because of the Oscars, she was forced to postpone the Washington performance. Downs and her band will arrive Tuesday, March 25, and are expected to join students in an informal gathering hosted by the student organization Voces Latinas that evening.

Wednesday, March 26, the ensemble will put on a program for area grade school children and their parents and a group of adults learning English as a second language. Wright Elementary School, a neighborhood school to Beloit College, will host the gathering. The workshop will focus on instrumentation, folklore, traditional music, and the spirit of Mexican artistry.

That afternoon, students at the College will join the artist in a “Border Talk,” discussing Downs’ music as well as the plight of undocumented Mexican workers, the struggle for Indian rights, and the victimization of women.

Art League to focus on Kahlo

The Wednesday evening highlight will be a dinner and lecture in tribute to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, sponsored by the Art League of Beloit, at the Wright Museum of Art. LaVaughn Kunny, a retired teacher in the Beloit public schools, will discuss the art of Frida Kahlo in an illustrated lecture. A special, reservations-required dinner and reception will precede the lecture. Latin music and a performance by Downs and members of her entourage is also planned; tickets to the dinner are $15 and selling fast.

Internationally known for emotional, graphic and colorful paintings, Frida Kahlo was one of the important artists of the 20th century. Imbued with a dedication to traditional arts, her paintings are said to embody Mexico’s history—especially the people’s struggles with conquest and pain. Frida Kahlo was a bold and uncompromising revolutionary, whose art and life were informed by complex relationships, including those with her mentor (and husband) artist Diego Rivera, and Russian Bolshevik exile Leon Trotsky.

A night to remember

The highlight of the week will be the Thursday evening performance by Lila Downs and her band in Eaton Chapel. As a vocalist, Downs has “one of the most spellbinding voices to grace the world music scene,” says Billboard. In various dialect and rhythms, she “conveys the depth, complexity, joy and pain involved in the struggle to find and attain personal and cultural freedom.”

For tickets, call the Neese Theatre box office at (608) 363-2755. The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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