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Noa the Boa Slithers into View                                        

One of TheWarhol’s newest acquisitions is Noa the Boa, a series of illustrations by Warhol for the Fleming-Joffe leather company back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.  The illustrations were generously donated by husband-wife business team Arthur and Teddy Edman, who ran Fleming-Joffe during Warhol’s association with the company, and who currently own and operate Edman Leather, an exclusive interior design leather supplier in Connecticut.

“Andy was recommended to us when he was starving as a graphic designer,” recalls Teddy Edman, who, along with husband Arthur, purchased Fleming-Joffe from her father.  “He walked in, we loved his work, and we hired him.  I think he worked with us from ’58 until ’63 or ’64.  He was one hundred percent professional; if he came to you with twelve ideas and you didn’t like them, he just came back the next day with twelve more.  It was a joy to work with him.”

Exotic leather products were very big in the fashion world then, so Arthur Edman purchased a boa constrictor that he named Noa, to help promote the company’s shoes, handbags, and other leather merchandise. “We made leather out of everything that crawled and referred to it as boa, python, or snakeskin.”

“Arthur traveled around America with the boa, promoting reptile leather,” recalls Mrs. Edman. “It was a huge success, so we asked Andy to do a series of promotional pieces for us based on Noa the Boa.”  One assignment was to supply illustrations for an animated version of Noa the Boa intended for presentation at the Coty Awards ceremony (“a very big deal at the time,” affirms Teddy Edman), where Fleming-Joffe was to receive one of the highly-coveted fashion industry honors.

“The awards committee told each of the winners that we could design a fifteen-minute program about our company,” says Arthur Edman.  “So we planned a little animated musical review called Noa the Boa.”  Teddy Edman enthusiastically recalls the film’s creative team lineup.  “Jane Trayhee, who was the ultimate copywriter of the period, was going to do the copy for the animated piece, and Arthur’s brother-in-law, a composer who had written things like ‘Tubby the Tuba’ and ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ was going to do the music.  Andy was going to do the illustrations.”

But the program was ill-fated.  “After we presented the sketches and overall idea to them,” says Mrs. Edman, “the committee said to us, ‘This is much too good; you will outshine everyone else—you can’t do it.’  So depressing, isn’t it?” laughing slightly at the memory.  “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  It was so excellent.  And Andy had such humor with it; he really played it.  He loved the fashion business, and he was very taken with names, and with money, and society—mostly because they had all rejected him.  Which is another story….”

The Noa the Boa storyboard drawings will be exhibited alongside the Fleming-Joffe awning, which Warhol also designed for the company.

“They always say that time changes things,   but you actually have to change them yourself.”    

--Andy Warhol

What Visitors Say     

Warhol loved a good party.  And as any seasoned partygoer knows, every good party has to have a guestbook where friends can sign their names, make comments, wax philosophic, and leave their marks.  Since its opening, The Warhol Museum has kept a guestbook in the first floor lobby for just such friends’ signatures, transcendental notions, and art-inspired scribblings. 

Some verbal entries from a recent guestbook:

•  “Interesting and confusing”
•  “Way to go Andy!”
•  “Was Andy an Albino?”
•  “Awesone!” [sic]
•  “It’s a great place to visit and I would want to live here.”
•  “You fooled them all, Andy!”
•  “I like the BAD pictures”
•  “Needs more penises”
•  “God bless you, Andy.  Thank you for making history.” 

The Warhol has also kept track of celebrities’ visits in a smaller, private guestbook.  David Byrne’s wry, “1st GUEST.…  Come to the party too early?” is the opening entry in the book.  Among other famous scrawls found therein are those belonging to former Love Boat captain Gavin MacLeod (a big smiley-face signature), Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan (“Enjoyed the muse-eum very much!”), Factory stalwart Taylor Meade (“Visiting celeb?!”), Foo Fighter David Grohl (“Happy St. Patrick’s Day”), actor Rip Torn (Great Show!) and Brooke Shields (“I miss you Andy—Thank you Thank you Thank you xxxx Brooke xx”).

Make your own mark the next time you’re at The Warhol. The book’s always there, waiting for you to enjoy it and add your own comments.


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