robes, asparagus, forgotten cables

December 9th, 2007 | Uncategorized

Photo 155

Here’s my stunning photographic coverage of Phranc’s gallery opening in NYC on Thursday. I forgot my cable for uploading stuff from my camera to my computer, and I’m not home yet. So I used the camera in my computer to take pictures of the LCD screen of my actual camera. Above is a shot of Phranc and the curator setting things up. On the wall you can see the amazing red bathrobe Phranc sewed from paper. Here’s a (sort of) close-up of it.

Photo 157

Someone said it was “very Jim Dine.” But what it reminded me of most vividly was this Berenice Abbot photo of Sylvia Beach.


Phranc said–and I hope she doesn’t mind my repeating this–that lots of people mistake the robe for a raincoat because she ran out of matte finish paint and had to use shiny stuff. Whatever–it’s still beautiful. And what the hell is Sylvia Beach wearing, anyway? A mylar trench coat?

At least two denizens of the blog showed up at the gallery. But I can’t show you the pictures because they look like crap in this 3 degrees of separation technique I’ve devised. Here’s one of Phranc touching up her giant asparagus spear, though, that sort of works.

Photo 148

33 Responses to “robes, asparagus, forgotten cables”

  1. Ellen O. says:

    This picture of a picture phenomenon reminds me of the Quaker Oatmeal box.

    I’m especially impressed that Phranc can move between music and visual art. I’d like to do that between writing and assemblage works.

  2. Asa says:

    Hi! I’m a Swedish psychiatrist/writer who bought “Fun Home” on impulse at a small, local bookstore… After reading it five times I also bought the DTWOF albums. I just want to say… thanks!

  3. Firefly says:

    I think it would be interesting to take this picture of a picture one step further, and print an image of the blog page onto cardboard.
    That way, the cycle would be complete.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    You may hate me for saying this, but you have such a Victorian (or Gothic Revival?) mouth. I can see you in those corny old-timey pictures in which people dress up and look serious.

  5. Ginjoint says:

    Wearing a mylar trench coat whilst naked underneath is…to be experienced. Especially if it’s raining.

  6. ksbel6 says:

    I have picture within a picture for my 10 year old daughter all the way back to birth. I have to credit her father with the idea, but it is really cool. Of course, in the most recent pic, you cannot see the pic of her on day 1, but one knows it is there. For her senior picture, the plan is to put each of the others around her in a circle.

  7. c&s says:

    Asa: you’re cool. I love the books too. It’s nice to hear a fresh voice.

  8. kate says:

    maybe that’s patent leather? how’s nyc?

  9. tHe LaTeNt LeNs says:

    Hi all…..I love the sharing of artistic jewels…..I dont say much on here,,,but it is sooooo much fun to log on after a long day….thanks AB and friends

  10. andrewo says:

    I think you’re doing Richard (Robert? the photographer who photographs other people’s photographs and somehow thus turns them into ART) French one better.

  11. pd says:

    I’d be surprised if the necessary cable was not available at any Target, CircuitCity, or RadioShack in NYC. Mini-USB?

    For pictures within pictures, the HP printer ads from about a year ago were pretty good.

  12. E.J. says:

    I have never really posted…a little intimidated…but I went to the show on friday night and didn’t realize that it was going to be folk songs and s’mores. Unfortunately my girlfriend and I had co-op shifts and had to leave in the middle of it. Phranc welcomed us though and said that “there is always room for more dykes”…there weren’t any actual seats but the space was inviting. Amazing art too!

  13. kate mckinnon says:

    Alison, by “the curator” do you mean the amazing Ann Magnusen?

    So did you tear up the town? Have a lot of fun?
    Bring Phranc home to play?

  14. Yes! I meant the amazing Ann Magnuson. But I didn’t do any personal tearing up of the town. It was a rather sedate visit. Then I had to leave Friday night to come visit my family in PA. Where I am now. Fricaseed after spending the day with my nieces and nephew.

  15. Deena in OR says:

    That’ll fricassee anybody. Of course, my nieces and nephew are 5, 2, and 2. I leave babysitting gigs feeling like Fraulein Maria after the marionette show.

  16. ladiesbane says:

    I believe she is wearing a leather trenchcoat, suitable for flying. And if you visit us in the beautiful state of Oregon, please consider staying at the Sylvia Beach Hotel! — on the coast, of course. Rooms broken up by Classics, Novels, and Bestsellers.

  17. Deena in OR says:

    I second that recommendation-although I’d wait another week or two before visiting the Oregon coast at this point in time…

  18. Aunt Soozie says:

    It looks too crinkly to be leather. I wonder if it is plastic? Someone here will figure out when that photo was taken and do the research on fashion and manufacturing trends, right?

  19. Ian says:

    That Sylvia Beach coat is way too early to be PVC – I reckon it’s just very shiny leather. Plastic doesn’t wrinkle like that!

  20. AnnaP says:

    I would say that Sylvia is wearing a coat made of thick silk like the kind they make in Thailand, or leather.

    I grew up with buch of quakers allright, but what`s quaker oatmeal? Some sort of cereal that doesn`t make a sound while eaten?

  21. Ellen O. says:


    Because Quakers were honest in their business dealings, many companies incorporated the name “Quaker” into their products in order to increase sales. Hence, Quaker Oats, Quaker State motor oil and dozens more.

    Quaker Oatmeal is the brand name of a long-time cereal company here in the states. Many years ago, their package showed a picture of the historical Quaker, who is their logo, holding a box of Quakers Oats, which contained a picture of the Quaker holding a box of Quaker Oats which…. and so on down the line.

  22. Pam I says:

    Doris Lessing blog hijack again: for a 15-minute BBC radio interview with her this evening, while the Nobellers do their stuff in Stockholm, she explains why at 88 their itinerary is a bit too much, and other stuff – go to Listen Again/monday. I’m not sure this works outside the UK, copyright + all that.

    Annoying how she gets it wrong about The Feminists. She should make me her new best friend and we could go back over the 70s together.

  23. Feminista says:

    The photo of Ms. Beach no doubt was taken in the 20s or early 30s. She was living in Paris at the time,running the bookstore Shakespeare and Co.,and being a literary matron along with her parther Adrienne Monier. I vote for lightweight leather for the coat.

  24. iara says:

    I am amazed that it is possible to find oneself (along with one’s computer + internet access) in a corner of the earth unreachable by the Quaker oats brand! I remember that jolly old face from my childhood in Greece, long before I knew what a Quaker is or the correct Greek term for “Koo-ah’-quer” (?????). Where is this place, AnnaP, and how do I get myself there?

  25. June says:

    Ay, this is driving me crazy. I figured that if I looked in a few books, I could find out what Sylvia Beach was wearing in that photo–it’s a little unusual, after all–but after searching in about 15 volumes, I still don’t know.

    The photo was taken in 1926, and Sylvia Beach (in Shakespeare and Company) talks about lots of other people who Abbott photographed in Paris, and she says, “To be ‘done’ by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott meant you were rated as somebody,” but not a peep about her own portrait.

    The nearest thing to a clue comes in Women of the Left Bank, when Shari Benstock reports, “Though Sylvia wore rather severe, practical clothes that might at the time have been considered ‘mannish,’ she–like Gertrude Stein–was particularly sensitive to fabric, choosing for her professional uniform tailored skirts and Edwardian-style velvet jackets accented with a silk foulard tied in a droopy bow. The robelike coat isn’t velvet though!

    When I was looking in some of Janet Flanner’s collections for a clue (she mentioned Beach several times in her New Yorker letters), I saw that her family owned a funeral business in Indianapolis. It all comes back to the Fun Home. (Unfortunately, Flanner never did explain that photo/outfit–she just writes a couple of times about how different Monnier’s and Beach’s signature dress styles were.)

  26. June says:

    OK, I’m officially obsessed. This 1998 New York Times story, pegged to an exhibit of Abbott’s work, talks about “the modern severity of Sylvia Beach in a vinyl raincoat.” And, hey, if it’s in the New York Times, it must be true.

  27. Aunt Soozie says:

    Thank you my friends. Vinyl it is then…indeed it looks more like vinyl than leather…now I’ll go do that research on vinyl fashion circa 1926.

  28. Good god, June. What breathtaking research.


    Ian mentions PVC, and says it was too early for that. But my own cursory researches just revealed that vinyl and PVC are the same thing…who knew?! And that PVC was invented in 1926, which is well within the timeframe of when Sylvia might have been sporting that plastic pardessus.

    May I just say, I love this blog.

  29. AnnaP says:

    I live in Finland and they might sell Quaker oatmeal in here. I do not have TV and I rarely ever shop anywhere but the Co-op store and at the local organic farm.

    Sylvias coat might ass well be vinyl but I would still go for silk or velvet.

  30. Minnie says:

    I looked up Sylvia Beach and got distracted reading about the Sylvia Beach Hotel (no tv? Appealing as I just tossed mine). Got back here, and the next bit I read was by ladiesbane, proprietor of said hotel. Serendipitous.

    My first guess was that Sylvia’s garment is of lightweight oilcloth, though it may be a bit too wrinkly for that. The creases around the upper right arm and on the lap seem a little too fine and busy to be in lightweight leather.
    So, perhaps it’s of a medium-weight glazed cotton sateen, which was manufactured then. If it were silk satin, the folds would be a little less crisp.

    What fortune to have found this wonderful website a few months ago. The body of Ms. Bechdel’s work, plus the commenting community is encouraging a much-needed renaissance of my outlook. Hello to Asa!

  31. noraneedles says:

    Nothing like a bunch of dykes talking about clothes to get me excited (cotton sateen or oilcloth was my guess, btw). I was just reading Eileen Myles’ piece in Michelle Tea’s latest anthology “It’s So You” and one line in it almost made me weep…I don’t have the book so I don’t have the direct quote, but she’s talking about nice shirts and how lovers remember the feel of them under their hands and how, even when they don’t love you anymore, they will think fondly of the shirt because it will remind them of how they used to feel. I guess that’s more or less the definition of a fetish object but the way she put it made my heart lurch.
    Phranc’s sewn cardboard clothes have some of that ephemeral poignancy too. Or else maybe they’re just quirky and great.

  32. Sanantan says:

    The raincoat is a kind of oilskin (in early vinyl) that was quite popular then (and that you will see in parisian films from those days). What a great lady anyway !