Phranc: Ann Magnuson

December 6 - January 26, 2008

For more than 25 years, Phranc has described herself as "the All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger." She has recorded five collections of music titled Folksinger (1985, Rhino Records); I Enjoy Being a Girl(1989, Island Records); Positively Phranc (1991, Island Records); Goofyfoot (1995, Kill Rock Stars) andMilkman (2000, Phancy Records). As a visual artist she has adopted the moniker "The Cardboard Cobbler." As a teenager she attended The Feminist Studio Workshop at The Woman's Building in Los Angeles, CA, where she focused on songwriting and silk-screening. In the late 1970's she was a member of Nervous Gender and Catholic Discipline in the Los Angeles punk rock scene. She has toured internationally with many acclaimed and notorious artists such as The Knitters, The Smiths, The Pogues and Morrissey. Both her music and visual work employ humor to raise consciousness, trigger response, stimulate memories and provoke discussion. Phranc is a former artist-in-residence at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA. As the recipient of the 2007 C.O.L.A. Fellowship she is currently writing songs about Los Angeles that will debut in Spring of 2008. She works in Santa Monica, CA where she resides with her partner and two children. The exhibition at CUE Art Foundation marks Phranc's first solo show in New York.


Ann Magnuson is a Los Angeles-based actress, singer, writer and performance artist who has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Public Theater and Joe's Pub in New York City; the Hammer Museum, and REDCAT in California; The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA and in theaters and cabarets around the world. She recently participated in Andrea Zittel's High. Desert. Test. Sites event in Joshua Tree, CA where she lives part-time.

Born and raised in Charleston, WV, Magnuson has a BFA in Theater & Cinema from Denison University, Granville, OH and studied theater in London at the British and European Studies Group. She came to New York City in 1978 as an intern at The Ensemble Studio Theater before becoming part of the seminal art, music and performance scene exploding in downtown New York during the 1980s (when she ran the now-infamous neo-Dada cabaret space, Club 57). She performed regularly in downtown theaters, galleries and clubs including The Mudd Club, Danceteria, The Pyramid Club and CBGB and also made several short-form videos, most notably Made for TV which premiered on the PBS show Alive From Off Center and has recently been featured in exhibits about the East Village at the New Museum and New York University's Grey Art Gallery. She also co-wrote and starred in Vandemonium, a surreally-comic special for Cinemax and acted in several independent films including Beth and Scott B's Vortex and Sara Driver's Sleepwalk.

Her many Hollywood film credits include Making Mr. RightClear and Present Danger and Panic Room. She has appeared on numerous TV shows including FrasierCSI:MiamiThe Drew Carey Show and the HBO series From The Earth To The Moon and was a series regular on the ABC-TV sitcom Anything But Love opposite Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis. Off-Broadway credits include The Vagina Monologues and Four Dogs and a Bone as well as her own one-woman shows, You Could Be Home Now and Rave Mom. She also starred in the LA premiere of the David and Amy Sedaris play The Book of Liz.

Magnuson has been in numerous bands such as her heavy metal group Vulcan Death Grip and the sardonic folk trio The Bleaker Street Incident. She was the lead singer and lyricist for the psycho-psychedelic band Bongwater with whom she released five albums. Her solo album The Luv Show was released on Geffen Records in 1995 and her new CD, Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories, is currently being distributed by Asphodel Records. She has written for magazines as varied as ArtforumBUST and Conde Nast Traveler and currently pens a monthly column for Paper magazine and contributes to their Visit for more.




Cardboard and craft paper what a delicious medium. 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. In 1991, inspired after eating a perfect slice of yellow cake, I started making three-dimensional pieces. I never planned on learning to sew (in fact I failed sewing in school three times). Never thought I'd want to, need to until I had a vision of sewing cardboard! I imagined cardboard clothes not glued but SEWN. I had long ago inherited my Nana's sewing machine, but hadn't a clue as to how to use it. Upon request, a friend taught me how to thread the machine, wind the bobbin and straight stitch. What you see today is my recent history. I roll out craft paper and paint yards and yards until I have created a "bolt" of "fabric." I then cut the pattern and sew! What you see today is mostly my recent history. I've included some glued cardboard pieces, which chart my evolution. I now share with you my "unseamly" passion; Phranc of California.




by Ann Magnuson

We love things. We need things. Things tell us who we are. Things make us happy. 
Phranc makes things. 
Things that help us see things for the things they really are. 
People have tried to describe these things. Joseph Campbell talked about masks, Jean Baudrillard ofsimulacra, Plato about the shadows on the cave wall. 
Phranc has a label. 
"Phranc of California" celebrates the good life - sun, surf, ice cream sandwiches and an endless summer full of fun, fun, fun til Daddy takes the T-bird away. 
In Phranc's Cardboard Cobbler's Workshop new identities can be forged, old archetypes resurrected. Troy Donahue packs the picnic basket; Sandra Dee wears the combat boots. But mostly gender takes a backseat in a spiffy little GTO fueled by modern myths and driven by desire. 
And because it's a bicoastal, bipartisan dream-come-true Phranc introduces... 
The New York Collection! 
An elegant assemblage of baubles, bangles and bright, shiny designer chocolates, these bite-size bits of luxury porn translate into enduring swank for the ages. 
The ancient Egyptians buried their kings with their things. So did the Maya. The Vikings put their kings and things (along with a virgin or two) on a boat and burned it all. Some modern Chinese have adapted the traditional funeral practice of burning paper money to include the incineration of elaborately crafted objects made from paper and cardboard. Paper clothing, paper cars, paper houses, paper iPods... Facsimiles of things that the deceased enjoyed in his or her lifetime. 
Things they loved. Things they needed. Things that defined them as people. People who mattered. People who had things. 
We want things. 
We like things. 


Things are the life jackets we use to rescue ourselves from oblivion.



YOUNG ART CRITICS: Julia Schlosser on Phranc