Phranc of California
Cardboard, paper, gouache and thread come together to create life-size, three-dimensional representations of familiar summer objects in Phranc of California. The exhibition, which opens on June 18th at Craig Krull Gallery, will be Phranc’s first major West Coast solo show following her critically well received exhibition in New York City in 2008. The show will include sculptural renditions of beach paraphernalia, such as swimsuits, inflatable rafts, umbrellas, and beach balls, all composed of paper mediums that were hand sewn and painted.
Although Phranc has been known as the “All American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger” since the 1980s (when she toured with such acts as The Pogues and The Smiths), she has been involved in the arts since childhood. As a teenager she attended The Feminist Studio Workshop at The Woman's Building in Los Angeles, CA where she took courses in silk-screening and was shown in a 1978 group exhibition. Says Phranc, “From the time I sat in my first refrigerator box submarine I knew the cardboard sea was for me. I have been creating objects, food, toys, advertisements, shoes and underwear out of ‘found’ cardboard for many years.”
The evolution of her work as a self described “Cardboard Cobbler” has involved transitioning from flat objects to three-dimensional sculptures, and learning to use a sewing machine to create clothing out of painted yards of Kraft paper “fabric”.
In a 2008 review of her exhibition at the Cue Art Foundation, Martha Schwendener of the New York Times said, “Dress shirts, T-shirts, combat boots, a life preserver… skillfully made from paper or cardboard recall Claes Oldenburg’s ‘Store’ or Warhol’s paper clothing. Phranc’s treatment of Eisenhower-era objects is loaded with subversive significance, however, since many of them functioned as signifiers of gayness in a heavily closeted period.”
Following her beach themed exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery, Phranc will unveil a “trading post” of cardboard cowboy gear in the Museum Shop of the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. This installation, from October through November, is in conjunction with Out West at the Autry, a series of programs on LGBT history and culture in the American West created and produced by Gregory Hinton.