Home Sewing Overheads… Part II: Menswear

by Alden Cole on July 24, 2014 · 0 comments

Slow-Motion Memoir: An Illustrated History, installment #46, continuing the story begun on Sunday.

3MenswearWP1973, the year these illustrations were created for the Home Sewing market, was one of the more tumultuous years of my young life to that date. I turned 29 in June, and it looked like I was in for some interesting changes in my 30th year; the relationship of two years with partner Robert Mayberry was unraveling slowly. Stuck with what he considered a dead-end job as a conductor for Amtrak, he was looking for a new direction. Having arrived in New York City in 1970 from Pittsburgh, with a BFA in Piano Performance from Carnegie Mellon, and intent on continuing his musical education at Julliard, his application to their Master’s program was rejected. Dejected, but wanting to stay in NYC, he turned to fashion modeling to support himself; he was very handsome, good at turning heads, especially on a runway. He certainly turned mine the day we met in April 1971 on Fifth Avenue. However he wasn’t particularly successful making money as a fashion model; he lacked the drive to be aggressive in looking for work. Our relationship did fed his love of classical music however, and stimulated my own, introducing me to much more than I had exposed myself to in the decade since I’d discovered the medium. Disgruntled with his railroad job, Robert sought something more glamorous as an occupation; so in the spring of ’73 he started making plans to matriculate at Indiana University in Bloomington that fall, to earn a Masters in Orchestral Conducting. By the time we broke up housekeeping in late August, we were still deluding ourselves that this separation was only temporary, I had come up with the idea to follow him west; I was getting bored with fashion illustration, and wanted an out from New York City. Since I ‘wanted’ to start painting, I figured my good ‘intent’ made me an ideal candidate for a Master’s program in painting. Why not? Of course, you need to understand that I had never ‘made’ a ‘painting’ in my life up to that point; I had only ‘thought’ a lot about doing it. My credentials were a BFA in Apparel Design from RISD, and surviving as a free lance fashion illustrator in New York City for several years. That track record emboldened me, despite my limiting self-image as an ‘illustrator’ to actually, seriously, apply to IU’s MFA Program in Painting. My intent was to join Robert in Bloomington by second semester, earn my own masters and eventually become a painting instructor myself. Needless to say, IU’s painting department declined to accept me on the basis of my idealisms, advising me instead to take more art classes in New York, and ‘Please reapply in a year or two.” So I stayed on in New York; never did get around to reapplying to the Master’s Program, or making it to Bloomington, but that’s another story…

4pagecompWPJust another example of the kind of loose sketchy illustrations I was called upon for occasionally in those years.

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