Cynthia von Buhler a.k.a. Countess von Buhler, is an American artist, performer, playwright, and children's book author.
Von Buhler (born Cynthia Carrozza) was raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the middle child in an artistic family with six children. Of her childhood, she says "As soon as we could hold a scissor, we learned every kind of craft imaginable, and worked in three dimensions, not just two." Creative from the start, she created large-scale papier-mache floats for her hometown Halloween parades, and won her first art award while she was still in grammar school. Growing up in the Berkshires, surrounded by world-class theater, von Buhler staged, performed and sang in plays at school and camp. Her high school graduation was held at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Von Buhler studied art and children's books at The Art Institute of Boston. After graduating she continued her studies at Richmond, The American International University in London.
Illustration career 1990 - 2010:
Von Buhler studied to be a children's book author and illustrator, but she was having trouble breaking into the field. She focused instead on editorial illustration and began creating dark pastel drawings for magazines like Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Teen under her maiden name, Cynthia Carrozza. "I was the queen of teen magazine illustration. Anorexia, date rape, and jealousy were constant themes."
At this time, in the mid-nineties, she and Adam Buhler a.k.a. Adam von Buhler bought a large purple Victorian house in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. She painted the walls in jewel tones with patterns of climbing vines. "It was a creative turning point for me. When I moved into my house, I needed art for the walls. So, I started making these paintings that were much different than the style I had been working in. That is when I decided not to make any artwork that I did not want to put on my wall." Von Buhler's three-dimensional paintings have been reproduced and featured in a diverse variety of books, magazines, and newspapers from Rolling Stone to The New Yorker. Her work has appeared in more than a thousand magazines, books, publications, billboards, and CDs. In 1995 she was interviewed about her art in Mary Magdalen: An Intimate Portrait on the Lifetime Network. The expose was narrated by Penelope Ann Miller and also featured interviews with Martin Scorsese and Arch Bishop Rembert Weakland. In addition, a von Buhler portrait of Mary Magdalen which had been commissioned by The New Yorker was featured in the show's introductory graphics. In 1998, she was hired by Viking Publishing to illustrate a children's book, Nicholas Nicholson's Little Girl in Red Dress With Cat and Dog. This book garnered von Buhler a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which praised the "imaginative debut" and her "distinct sense of time and place." A tarot deck based upon the writings of William Shakespeare, "The Shakespeare Oracle: Let the Bard Predict Your Future," written by A. Bronwyn Llewellyn, was illustrated by von Buhler and released in 2003. In 2004 von Buhler's portraits of Madonna and Jimi Hendrix accompanied essays by Britney Spears and John Mayer in the "50th Anniversary of Rock and Roll" issue of Rolling Stone. The painting of Jimi Hendrix was built with a Stratocaster guitar as the singer's spine and the piece was set on fire. Both paintings are now in the collection of Jann Wenner.
Illustration awards and honors:
1996 Gold Medal, Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles,
1995 Gold Medal, The Visual Club, New York,
American Illustration, 25, 23, 21, 20, 18, 17, 14,
Society of Illustrators, 49, 46, 45, 42, 40, 38, 37,
Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, 41, 36, 35,
Communication Arts magazine Illustration Annuals, 45, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37; Design Annual, 38,
Music career 1995 - 2001:
At the same time she changed her name, von Buhler became involved in the music industry. She started a performance art band, Women of Sodom, which won a Best Music Poll Award from the Boston Phoenix in 1997 and became a Boston sensation. Women of Sodom headlined clubs across the country and opened for Gwar, Voivod, God Lives Underwater and Psychotica. The band performed at New York City's Roseland Ballroom and Boston's Avalon as part of the Sextacy Ball, with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid also on the bill. "Boots" featured vocals and lyrics by von Buhler and music by Xavier Dietrich II and was released in 1997 on Pussykitty Records. At this time von Buhler and her husband started a record label named after their house with the award-winning designer Clifford Stoltze. "In the 1990s, it was impossible to walk into an Allston club or Cambridge bar without tripping over one of Cynthia von Buhler's paintings, music projects, or a band signed to her record label. If there was ever a queen of the Boston scene, it was von Buhler." Castle von Buhler also released a series of art and music CD compilations titled Soon, Anon, and Nigh. The artist explains the titles this way: "Soon there will be a cure for AIDS...and then we came up with Anon and Nigh which means the same thing." In honor of von Buhler's close college friend, William Lincoln Tisdale, who had died from the disease, proceeds from these compilations were donated to various AIDS charities. The CDs won various design awards and many of the young illustrators who created the artwork flourished. Von Buhler contributed musically and artistically to the compilations and her first work (which incorporated a live dove) was honored by Society of Illustrators in New York City.Curators began approaching von Buhler, offering her exhibits in Boston and New York City. She was chosen by Boston Magazine as one of the "40 Bostonians We Love" in their June 2002 cover feature article. Von Buhler was frequently featured on the covers of The Boston Globe,The Boston Phoenix,The Improper Bostonian, and many other Boston-based art and music publications. She appeared so frequently in The Boston Phoenix they named her "their unofficial mascot." She also appeared twice on MTV; as Bettie Page in an MTV music video for the band The Amazing Crowns (which was previewed on Beavis and Butthead) and in a sitcom called Apt 3F. Von Buhler formed and managed her husband's band Splashdown, and helped them get signed with Capitol Records. In 2001, after Splashdown angrily left Capitol Records, von Buhler's band Countess released a rock opera record about the evils of pop stardom and the music industry. Ironically, the project was funded through a demo deal from MCA Records. Countess was nominated for a Boston Music Award. They opened for Karen Finley at Royally F***ed, a three-day event featuring visual and performance art in at The Boston Institute of Contemporary Art and the Paradise Rock Club. In 2001, the last year that von Buhler lived at Castle von Buhler, she turned the second floor into The Dietrich von Buhler Gallery "for artists who want to do things that aren't market-driven, that aren't necessarily for sale, that are cutting-edge. Art that you probably wouldn't want to put in your house but is really interesting to view, and opens your mind to new ideas.", A curator from The Whitney Museum in New York City stopped by looking for artists to be featured in their Whitney Biennial exhibit., The house became well known for von Buhler's unique parties and art exhibits.