“Homage to Frida” fine art portraits to be revealed
at Chamber opening July 9
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July 2, 2021, Wheaton, IL—When Miguel Morna Freitas heard Diana Martinez, director of the McAninch Arts Center (the MAC), speak about Frida Kahlo at the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce luncheon in March, he was inspired. After hearing Diana speak, Miguel knew he had a vision.
A fine art portrait photographer and member of the Chamber’s Arts & Sports Tourism Committee, Miguel had been looking for a way to contribute to the Chamber’s “Homage to Frida” art exhibit. The show is being hosted by the committee and the Chamber to recognize the “Frida Kahlo: Timeless” Exhibition being held at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art on the campus of the College of DuPage.
Miguel reached out to Lulú Hertenstein, community engagement specialist for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Lulú, who is also a member of the Wheaton Chamber’s board of directors, worked with Miguel to create the photo shoot. Ultimately the project engaged three more Wheaton Chamber members: Andrew and Tonya Parravano of Andrew’s Garden, Jill Ludvigsen of Danada House and Bob Greene of DuPage Framing Center. A sixth Chamber member, the MAC, provided support and consultation through Roland Raffel, recently retired from the MAC and a board member of the Chamber.
An introduction to Carolina Ocampo, founder and director of Maria Bonita Modeling Agency, helped Miguel with his vision. A seven-hour photo shoot was held at Danada House in Wheaton and at St. James Farm in Warrenville, a Forest Preserve property, on a hot Sunday in June.
The result: 15 portraits which will debut at a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 9, at the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, 108 E. Wesley in Wheaton.
“It’s hard to believe that after three months of research and planning, one glorious day of shooting and many more hours of culling, designing and retouching, the portraits will be ready for the public,” said Miguel. “The spirit of cooperation from everyone—from the beautiful flower arrangements done by Andrew’s Garden to the generosity of the Forest Preserve District in sharing their space—made this project a dream come true.”
The fine art portraits done by Miguel will debut as part of the “Homage to Frida” show which opened at the Chamber in June. Another Chamber member, the Burning Bush Gallery, a ministry of Gary United Methodist Church, loaned their volunteer curator Bill Austin to source and hang the artwork. “Homage to Frida” showcases artists from two previous shows that honored Frida Kahlo in 2019 at the Burning Bush Gallery. Additional artists from Aurora and Pilsen brought their images of Frida to the show which will stay up through September 6, coinciding with “Frida Kahlo: Timeless” at COD.
In addition to his Chamber connections, Miguel’s photography project included Gustavo Loza, lead coordinator for the modeling agency; Frida models Bianca Cahue, Anais Salinas and Bianca Castrejon and their chaperones; Justyna Kaczor-Marin, stylist from Atelier Makeup of Chicago; Alex Lopez, stylist and official hair and make-up artist for Univision Chicago and Alex Lopez Salon; and Erika Espinosa from Colores Mexicanos who provided the Frida dresses and jewelry for the models. Miguel’s daughter, professional dancer Clara Morna Freitas, assisted with photography.
“We are thrilled about this addition to our ‘Homage to Frida’ show,” said Vickie Austin, president and CEO of the Wheaton Chamber. “To see our office evolve into an art gallery, surrounded by all things Frida, is a daily joy. So many of our members collaborated to help create Miguel’s exquisite portrayals of Frida—it shows what can happen when we all work together.”
The reception on July 9 is free and open to the public. The event is being held that day to support “Frida Fridays” being promoted by the Downtown Wheaton Association. Restaurants and shops in the area will be open that evening.
Another reception will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 6, to honor all the artists who have contributed to the “Homage to Frida” exhibit. For more information, contact the Wheaton Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 630-668-6464.
The Wheaton Chamber of Commerce has been serving the Wheaton business community since 1916. The Chamber’s mission: To promote business, enhance economic development and serve as a catalyst for improving the quality of life in the community.
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