DIEGO RIVERA -- MY ART, MY LIFE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (WITH GLADYS MARCH)
One day as I was busily working in the studio I had recently set up, I was visited by the beautiful singer Concha Michel. She said to me, "Comrade Rivera, you're a cabron (bastard)!"
I laughed. "Agreed, comrade."
"Men call those women who like to go out with every man they please putas (prostitutes). You, Comrade Rivera, are a puto, since you go out with every woman you can."
"Correct, comrade," I responded.
"And what's more," Concha said, "you're shameless."
"I admit it."
"And you're in love with me; you're crazy about me; but you say nothing to me about your feelings because you fear me, knowing that I'm not a puta. You also know that I wouldn't leave the brave, stupid, and fairly honest man I'm living with to take up with a cabron like you. And that's not all I wish to say, either. In spite of the fact that you have said nothing to me because you're such a shameless puto, I'm as much in love with you as you are with me. You're so tricky and treacherous, though, that I'm not sure you won't get me to run away with you one of these days."
I replied, "All you say is correct, my dear friend, but if you're going to run off with me sooner or later, why not right now?"
"I've already taken steps not to make that mistake, the wisest possible under the circumstances. I realize that the only thing that can keep us apart is another woman who is handsomer, freer, and braver than I am. So I have sought her out. And I have brought her straight here to you!"
Concha walked to the door, called "Lupe!" and stepped aside.
A strange and marvelous-looking creature, nearly six feet tall, appeared. She was black-haired, yet her hair looked more like that of a chestnut mare than a woman's. Her green eyes were so transparent she seemed to be blind. Her face was an Indian's, the mouth with its full, powerful lips open, the corners drooping like those of a tiger. The teeth showed sparkling and regular: animal teeth set in coral such as one sees in old idols. Held at her breast, her extraordinary hands had the beauty of tree roots or eagle talons. She was round-shouldered, yet slim and strong and tapering, with long, muscular legs that made me think of the legs of a wild filly.
Concha introduced her. "My friend Lupe Marin from Guadalajara. Come into the room."
Lupe walked in slowly, her green eyes focusing upon the drawings I had been preparing, as it happened, for my National Preparatory School mural.
She stopped to gaze at me as at some inanimate object. Inclining her head, she looked me over from head to toes.
At last she turned to Concha. "Is this the great Diego Rivera?" she asked. "To me he looks horrible!"
Concha smiled with satisfaction. "Horrible, eh? All right. Everything is settled. Nothing can stop what's going to happen now!" And with that prophecy, she grabbed her things and ran out of the studio.
Lupe remained standing, silently glancing around the room. Finally her eyes fixed on a bowl on my work table. The bowl was filled with a pyramid of beautiful fruit.
"Why are those fruit there? Are you painting a still life?" Lupe asked.
"No, Lupe, they are there to be enjoyed both by looking and by eating."
"Can I eat some?"
"Of course, Lupe. Please eat all you want."
She sat down on a high draftsman's bench, took a banana with both hands, and peeled it skillfully like an ape. She ate the fruit rapidly, then casually threw the skin against the wall behind her. She took another piece of fruit and silently repeated this operation. Then another and another until there was nothing left in the bowl.
"Could you send someone out to buy me some more to eat?"
"Surely," I replied, and did as she asked.
When she had devoured a second mound of fruit, Lupe said, "I was hungry. I had not eaten anything for two whole days."
She rose and came toward me. "Shall I sit for you?"
"With much pleasure."
I began her first portrait, then a second and a third. Then I made four or five study heads for the auditorium, in addition to about twenty hands. After that day, we were together so much that it became a trial for both of us to be apart. By mutual consent, we became lovers.
One night, during a political meeting held in the house of a friend, Lupe sauntered in. She greeted everybody and then seriously and formally asked for the floor. In the curious silence which ensued, she delivered an excellent speech, using political, social, professional, and personal arguments to prove to her listeners that if Diego Rivera were not entirely a fool, he would marry her. As soon as she was done, I rose to second her.
That night we began living together, in the sight of all, as man and wife.