A New York Artist Captures My Heart



Once upon a time, a girl from Pennsylvania went to Paris. It was around that terrible time summed up by three numbers 9/11. The girl was stranded in Paris, alone. To pass the time, she went to flea markets and antique shops, searching for objects from yesteryear, for antique dresses and for everyday objects from the past. This was the birth, the very beginning of a poignantly poetic, living piece of art; this was the genesis of PhoebeNewYork.

Libby Schoettle is a New York artist, who lives and works in Manhattan and brings Phoebe to life every day. Phoebe is the embodiment of the Modern Woman; she’s tough, shy and awkward, she goes after what she wants, and sometimes that changes from day to day. Phoebe is me, and she is you. She is all the women of the world wrapped up in one embodiment of femininity. She seeks the limelight but she’s also touchingly vulnerable.

Phoebe comes to life from collages of found objects such as vintage clothes, book covers, line drawings and photographs. She has a rather large head and a tiny mouth and expresses herself in the way she holds her head and body.

The name Phoebe comes from JD Salinger’s cult book, Catcher in the Rye. Phoebe is the sister of the hero, Holden Caulfield, and Libby wondered what happened to her and  began to imagine her alive today in New York.

‘Phoebe evolves and develops quite naturally just like you or I. She’s organic; a blending of objects, her own emotions and my imagination. She’s dark and funny and explores life, love, and relationships,” Libby says.

‘Phoebe is an avenue for self-exploration and self-expression. I’m naturally contemplative and Phoebe is my channel for love, pain and all the good and bad in life.’

This year alone, Phoebe has been featured in Glamour Italia, Paris-based L’Express Magazine and British publication, Teeth. She has been seen on the streets of New York, San Francisco and Seattle. I was curious, will Phoebe ever make it to my hometown of Perth, on the Western Australian coast?

‘I have heard there is a big street art community out there, and yes it would be lovely to put Phoebe on some Australian Walls. She is feeling restless in New York lately, so hopefully one day, I might work up the courage to travel with her.’

Phoebe has been described as a ‘hard core New Yorker’ and I wondered, does Phoebe watch ‘Sex in the City’ and has she ever met SJP, surely they are BFFs?

‘Ha-ha, what a good and funny question! I actually have not ever met SJP, but have seen Matthew Broderick on his bicycle a few times. Ironically, I worked as an intern where they cast Sex and the City. I don’t watch much television and I missed the whole Sex and the City craze. That is, until about five days ago, I was at the gym, and Sex and the City was on TV in front of me. I suddenly found myself mesmerized, thinking: Wow, what have I missed all these years? Phoebe and I feel just like them! Now I will probably become obsessed and start watching all of them, the same way I did with Seinfeld. I used to run into Mr. Big (Chris Noth), a lot when I was going out regularly, even more dark and handsome in person. Perfectly cast!’

Libby studied fashion and film production. Currently, she is working on a memoir-based novel and is the subject of an upcoming documentary, directed by Jyll Johnstone of Canobie Films.

The future for Phoebe is clear; she will continue to grow and deepen and will stay true to herself and Libby.

From Libby:

‘Finally, at age 41, I can express my heart, be understood, accepted, and esteemed for doing something important.’

From me:

‘From the first moment I spied Phoebe, I was struck. I feel fiercely protective of her. I can’t wait to see what she’s been up to while I’ve been asleep on the other side of the world. When I wake up in the morning, I check Instagram, just to catch up on Phoebe’s adventures.’

Follow Phoebe on Instagram @phoebenewyork and check out Libby’s website.