Prints from my Chorus Girl show will be available in time for the holidays (in limited signed editions). Details from the four pieces are above. I’m very, very excited!

They’ll be available for purchase via my Etsy store soon!

(Source: cavigliascabinet, via cavigliaillustration)

Chorus girls in progress. Drawn from life during I’ll Say She Is - the Marx Brothers musical during FringeNYC!

Chorus girls in progress. Drawn from life during I’ll Say She Is - the Marx Brothers musical during FringeNYC!

Inspired by the chorus girls who performed in the legendary musical review, Shuffle Along which premiered on Broadway in 1921 with songs by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. The show made instant stars of Florence Mills and a teenage Josephine Baker.
via Etsy

Inspired by the chorus girls who performed in the legendary musical review, Shuffle Along which premiered on Broadway in 1921 with songs by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. The show made instant stars of Florence Mills and a teenage Josephine Baker.

via Etsy

I still have a few of these little monster and chorus girl prints sitting around, so if you’ve been interested in purchasing something, but are low on funds, this is a great option.
via Etsy

I still have a few of these little monster and chorus girl prints sitting around, so if you’ve been interested in purchasing something, but are low on funds, this is a great option.

via Etsy

Recently, I was lucky enough to have a small solo show up on the Lower East Side in NYC presented by Dixon Place. The subject was chorus girls: women who began or were at some point in their careers a part of the chorus. 

While researching and thinking about what women I would create pieces around, I made a long, constantly added to list of women whose careers began as dancers in the chorus, a list that began with French music hall performers and ended with Ellen Burstyn who began her career in the chorus line on the Jackie Gleason show. To frame it for modern readers, being a chorus girl was the first half of the 20th century’s version of model turned actress. The job got little respect and was used to connotate not just prettiness, but often stupidity, greed and sluttiness. The joke of a hot, illiterate baby vamp, covered in furs, spouting vulgar Brooklynese, kept by a Wall Street millionaire being a frequent punchline.

Of course, like all unfair stereotypes, there is some truth in the mix. Then as now, pretty, pretty girls used notoriety to snag rich boyfriends and husbands. But the hidden interest for me was always the matched set of economic and sexual autonomy that being a chorus girl represented. It’s no coincidence that movies about chorus girls, a staple of early sound, often played by real former chorus girls such as Louise Brooks, Barbara Stanwyck, Mae Clarke, Joan Crawford, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers were released in the dozens, but the moment the Hayes Code came into being, ruining everybody’s fun, the chorus girl mostly disappeared from the movies. She was the ultimate good time girl in the drunken libertine ’20s, and she schemed and starved and wisecracked in the Depression. But there seemed to be no cultural place for her in the scrubbed and sincere late ’30s Hollywood. She took a break and then reemerged with the birth of film noir, but instead of being the protagonist, she was most often the curse and the downfall of the man the story was about. For the shady noir dame, as played by Barbara Stanwyck (again), Rita Hayworth, Gloria Graham, Lizbeth Scott, or Jane Greer, the sexual liberation was back, but this time around she was punished for it, with death, the electric chair or scalding water to the face.

 But, back to the earlier part of the last century. The four women I chose to draw, (you can see thumbnails/details from the finished work above) Evelyn Nesbit, Olive Thomas, Princess White Deer and Louise Brooks all led interesting, though not always successful lives. Nesbit remains notorious for being embroiled in the sensational murder of Stanford White. Thomas was a Ziegfeld star and early silent movie star who died in 1920 from accidentally drinking mercury - the first major Hollywood scandal. Princess White Deer is a now mostly forgotten star who headlined at the Palace and the Follies and performed for the Czars of Russia and then retired from show biz in 1930, devoting the remaining 60 years of her life to tribal matters. Louise Brooks, serious modern dancer with Denishawn,  Ziegfeld star and movie star turned recluse and drunk, turned writer is both the exception to most chorus girl cliches and the ur-chorus girl. 

 Which brings me to my show. If I had the time, I could happily make ten more about ten more women. But, for now, there are four. I’m thinking of making a limited print run which I have to figure out. So stay tuned and check in with my Etsy and Society 6 stores and I’ll keep you apprised of all chorus girl related matters here.

03. Wise Children by Angela Carter is another of my very favorite novels  Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago:
"I mean it when I say nearly every sort of enterprise that might hire an actor makes an appearance: Shakespeare (of course), music hall, vaudeville, burlesque, English pantomime, Hollywood movies, game shows, commercials, children’s television, cooking shows, and on and on. The Chance sisters are raised in a theatrical boarding house by their beloved Grandma Chance (vegetarian, pacifist, nudist and drinker of créme de menthe). The appearances by real life luminaries are blessedly few and far between. Famous people are mentioned occasionally, but they remain off stage. There’s a lovely description of a Fred and Adele Astaire routine - the girls’ first show, and the first time they see their father in the flesh. There is also a whole Dan Leno routine in a seaside theater in Brighton, and he becomes an actual character in the book, playing Bottom in a disastrous movie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I had no idea that Dan Leno was a real person until I read my always charming inamorato's book on vaudeville. I may have even said out loud, “Oh! He’s real!” to an entire subway car.”
You can read the rest of my post here.
3/40 in my Literary Lent Series.

03. Wise Children by Angela Carter is another of my very favorite novels  Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago:

"I mean it when I say nearly every sort of enterprise that might hire an actor makes an appearance: Shakespeare (of course), music hall, vaudeville, burlesque, English pantomime, Hollywood movies, game shows, commercials, children’s television, cooking shows, and on and on. The Chance sisters are raised in a theatrical boarding house by their beloved Grandma Chance (vegetarian, pacifist, nudist and drinker of créme de menthe). The appearances by real life luminaries are blessedly few and far between. Famous people are mentioned occasionally, but they remain off stage. There’s a lovely description of a Fred and Adele Astaire routine - the girls’ first show, and the first time they see their father in the flesh. There is also a whole Dan Leno routine in a seaside theater in Brighton, and he becomes an actual character in the book, playing Bottom in a disastrous movie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I had no idea that Dan Leno was a real person until I read my always charming inamorato's book on vaudeville. I may have even said out loud, “Oh! He’s real!” to an entire subway car.”

You can read the rest of my post here.

3/40 in my Literary Lent Series.

A detail from The Last Supper of Olive Thomas.
THE CHORUS GIRL SHOW by Carolyn RashipCome to Dixon Place to celebrate the opening of my show! I’ve been creating a series of large works on paper depicting the interesting and scandal filled lives of women who began their professional lives in the chorus - then wound up as movie stars, writers or infamous.To celebrate the opening, please join us for drinks and performances at the Dixon Place Lounge!
161 Chrystie Street, NYCPerformers include:Anna Copa Cabanna Charming DisasterKilly Mockstar DwyerSarah Engelke and Jamie ZillitttoAnd more!During the first half of the 20th century becoming a chorus girl was both the most typical entree to show business and a constant punchline. The Chorus Girl was a cliche and a type: tough talking, avaricious, gold digging, dumb. As with most things, the real women often transcended the cliche. Show business and crime, dreams lost, lives lived into little old lady-hood — and lives cut short. Glamour and art and intelligence. These works are drenched in blood and feathers and gilt trim, and — like the early movies many real life chorus girl appeared in — have no formula. Intricate pen and ink and watercolor fantasias depict moments out of the lives of Princess White Deer (Native American performer who headlined on three continents, played the Palace, and starred in the Follies), Evelyn Nesbit (the teenage chorus girl who played a central role in The Crime of the Century, the murder of Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw), Olive Thomas (legendary Ziegfeld star and whose death was the first Hollywood scandal) and Louise Brooks (serious dancer, legendary chorus girl, movie star, artist and writer). As in the lives of these complicated and fascinating women, nothing in these works is just what it seems. 

A detail from The Last Supper of Olive Thomas.

THE CHORUS GIRL SHOW by Carolyn Raship

Come to Dixon Place to celebrate the opening of my show! I’ve been creating a series of large works on paper depicting the interesting and scandal filled lives of women who began their professional lives in the chorus - then wound up as movie stars, writers or infamous.

To celebrate the opening, please join us for drinks and performances at the Dixon Place Lounge!

161 Chrystie Street, NYC

Performers include:

Anna Copa Cabanna 
Charming Disaster
Killy Mockstar Dwyer
Sarah Engelke and Jamie Zillittto

And more!

During the first half of the 20th century becoming a chorus girl was both the most typical entree to show business and a constant punchline. The Chorus Girl was a cliche and a type: tough talking, avaricious, gold digging, dumb. As with most things, the real women often transcended the cliche. Show business and crime, dreams lost, lives lived into little old lady-hood — and lives cut short. Glamour and art and intelligence. These works are drenched in blood and feathers and gilt trim, and — like the early movies many real life chorus girl appeared in — have no formula. 

Intricate pen and ink and watercolor fantasias depict moments out of the lives of Princess White Deer (Native American performer who headlined on three continents, played the Palace, and starred in the Follies), Evelyn Nesbit (the teenage chorus girl who played a central role in The Crime of the Century, the murder of Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw), Olive Thomas (legendary Ziegfeld star and whose death was the first Hollywood scandal) and Louise Brooks (serious dancer, legendary chorus girl, movie star, artist and writer). As in the lives of these complicated and fascinating women, nothing in these works is just what it seems. 

travsd:

A detail from my Louise Brooks piece!
THE CHORUS GIRL SHOW 
Dixon Place Gallery February 5-23
161A Chrystie Street, New York, New York 10002 

A detail from my Louise Brooks piece!

THE CHORUS GIRL SHOW 

Dixon Place Gallery February 5-23

161A Chrystie Street, New York, New York 10002 

I just realized that I neglected to post the (terrible iphone) photo of the Last Supper of Olive Thomas. Here it is.

I just realized that I neglected to post the (terrible iphone) photo of the Last Supper of Olive Thomas. Here it is.

Sorry for the radio silence! I’ve been hard at work on the pieces for the upcoming Dixon Place show (and I was on vacation in Ireland for a week).

I’ve attached some photos of my progress on the Louise Brooks piece. It’s the most elaborate thing I’ve done.

The pencil sketch for the first part of my Louise Brooks triptych.

The pencil sketch for the first part of my Louise Brooks triptych.

Some recent sketchbook pages.

I’m pretty permanently obsessed with old nutty gin soaked writer Louise Brooks.

I’m pretty permanently obsessed with old nutty gin soaked writer Louise Brooks.