Tina Modotti never received the recognition she sought as a modernist photographer in her 46 years of life. Recently, however, attention has turned from her affairs with famous men to her photos, which captured Mexico in the 1920's. Not only the subject of two recent biographies, she is also the central figure in Ellen Gavin's Apertura Modotti, opening its run at San Francisco's Brava Theater Center April 21.
A very beautiful woman, Modotti started out in Hollywood films in the 1920s where she met and fell in love with respected American photographer, Edward Weston. She first persuaded her lover to teach her photography and then convinced him to move with her to Mexico City, where she began her photographic career. In Mexico, she also met that country's muralists, including Diego Rivera, and had a brief affair with the world-renowned painter. Modotti's leftist political beliefs and social conscience eventually led to a dangerous attraction to Stalinism and censorship by both the left and the right. Her new home expelled her in 1930, and she traveled through Germany and the Soviet Union, before slipping back into Mexico to die alone in 1942.
Gavin is the founder and artistic director of Brava! for Women in the Arts. One of San Diego's first women firefighters, she penned the topical The Roof's on Fire!.
Amy Mueller directs. Arianna Ortiz stars as Modotti.
Apertura Modotti began performances April 18 and runs through May 20. Tickets are $28-$22. Brava! performs at the newly refurbished Brava Theater Center at 2789 24th Street (at the former York Theatre). For reservations and information, call (415) 392 4400. Brava! is on the web at http://www.brava.org. -- By Christine Ehren