It is simple. I was heavily consumed in my own thoughts this past term, lost in my memories, reflections of my past.

Consistently fixating and reminiscing on last year’s retrospective of Frida Kahlo (and Diego Rivera) at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), I recognize these moments to engage with art, and yearn to be present with it.

Regardless of whether I may receive a nasty, hurtful rejection from a friend, acquaintance, lover, or potential employer, I stay true to my heart and mind. I let go and continue to let myself be in the presence of art. For some reason, I feel that I can now better attract the right people.

When I think of Frida’s paintings, full of agony, lamentation, and sadness, I come to an interesting thought. It is not the cliché thought of “oh, she had it worse than me,” but rather a meditation in which I admire her bravery to use art as a means of letting herself go. Frida presents her reality, but through a visual escape, using her images as a means to convey her life as “surreal in real.” Her images are truly surreal, and thus, we allow ourselves to let go of our “normal” perceptions.

A year later, now in the present day, I contemplate the recent retrospective of David Bowie at the AGO. Unfortunately, this exhibition will have finished by the time this article goes into print, hence I cannot recommend that you make the trip.

However, I do encourage all of you to go take a look at David Bowie’s ability to construct not only his own unique performance identities, such as Ziggy Stardust, but also his ability to embody all artistic means of expression. Bowie is the musical, literary, and visual poet who turned his inner emotional turmoil into popular art. I am most amazed at the way in which Bowie remains an icon in popular culture today. He is not a sell-out either, at least from my observation.

A song he wrote, entitled “Starman,” is one of my favourite pieces as its lyrics present a space world where everyone can be true to themselves and “be who they are.” The exhibition showed a BBC recording from 1972 and I just fell in love with his performance, costumes, musical intonation… I could just blab on forever.

On this cold November day, the feelings of the Holiday season drawing ever closer, it is safe to note here that I am thankful to be in love with (the artistic auras/practices of) Frida Kahlo and David Bowie. These artists give me the emotional freedom to let myself go. To be true to myself, especially in being proud as an openly gay/queer individual, and to constantly embrace the emotional sensations of art.

In short, I spend this time being thankful for a haphazard victory lap year which has been better suited to my emotional and mental healing more than anything else, and is for the best.
I will thank Frida Kahlo and David Bowie forever, primarily in how they allowed me to let go of myself several times again. Those exhibitions are now good memories, ones I will cherish for years.