September 30, 2023

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Cynthia Blaster Custer, artist famous for casting plaster for musicians’ bars, dies at 74

Cynthia Blaster Custer, artist famous for casting plaster for musicians' bars, dies at 74

Matt Cynthia Blaster Custer – Artist known for throwing erect bars to famous rock musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, and Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. Her representatives confirmed that she passed away in Chicago earlier today (April 21) after a long illness. She was 74 years old.

Cynthia Albritton was born in Chicago in 1947. While attending art school in the 1960s, she was tasked with creating a plaster cast of “something solid that could hold its shape.” While others might reach for a seashell or a toothbrush, Albritton—who later described herself as a “recovery group”—found her inspiration at the front of her favorite rock band. Specifically, their bars. Albritton’s first popular topic was Jimi Hendrix, who agreed to be cast in 1968 while on tour in Chicago.

The following year, Albritton cast two members on MC5: Wayne Kramer, and drummer Dennis Thompson. Unfortunately, Kramer’s plaster mixture was a failure. “He was caught before he could push his penis fully into the mold – only the head went in,” Albritton said. Chicago Reader In 2002. The sculpture ended, as a result, a little on the short side. “Wayne literally got the turns,” Albritton noted.

Albritton’s work eventually caught the attention of Frank Zappa, who did not submit himself to the casting, but became a kind of patron of the artist. Zappa moved Albritton to Los Angeles, and after her apartment was broken into in 1971, Zappa and Albritton entrusted more than two dozen actors to Zappa’s legal partner Herb Cohen for safekeeping. However, Cohen held the pieces for much longer than she had intended for Albritton, and it took several years and a court appearance to recover all but three of them.

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In 2000, Albritton held its first gallery in New York City. She would go on to show her work at MoMA PS1 in Queens several years later. In addition to casting nearly 50 famous penises, Albritton also made plaster replicas for the breast. Her collection included pairs of Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Sally Timms of the Mekons and Peaches, Karen O.

Albritton has been immortalized in songs like Kiss “Plaster Caster,” while a 2001 documentary by the same name chronicled her artistic legacy. In 2010, Albritton ran for mayor of Chicago on the “Hard Party” card.

In a 2018 interview, Albritton discussed the process of making her “sweet kids,” as she often referred to her team. “Once they’re drenched in this mold,… they’re kind of numb… I feel for them, and I really hope they come out in their best looks,” Lucretia told Tye Jasmine. Albritton also spoke about the enhanced vulnerability that accompanied her work. “Their human imperfections make them kind of attractive,” she said of her rock subjects. “I was shocked and delighted to find that they were just as insecure as me. This kind of made me see them from a different perspective… They are just like us.”