Alex Stadler is an author, illustrator, artist, textile designer, and, like me, a shopkeeper. His Philadelphia store, Stadler-Kahn, is filled with the things that interest him most, like pottery, pipe cleaners, clothing and work by artists he knows. He opened the shop off Rittenhouse Square in 2010.
Alex also writes and illustrates children’s books (including the Beverly Billingsly series – Harcourt) and adults (What Willie Wore – Chronicle.)
I love Alex’s textiles best, most especially the scarves he makes, which look like his zany and chic illustrations. ($220) The scarves are made of very fine, merino wool from Italy, and knitted on machines in New York’s Garment District “All the scratchy vegetable matter has been combed out of the wool, and only the longest fibers are used, so it makes for a very strong, luxe yarn,” he says. “They remind me of the West African women I saw in Paris in 1973,” he says. His madly-colored argyle socks ($22) are equally exotic.
Alex has created textiles for a charmingly odd variety of notable companies, including Comme des Garçons, Jack Lenor Larsen, Nina Campbell, Donghia and babyGap. His first carpet design will be produced this year by Langhorne Carpet Company, the longest continuously operating carpet mill in the United States.
I’ve known and adored Alex for a long time, making it a true pleasure to bring his work to Provincetown. Alex is 46, and was raised in Larchmont , New York, down the street from Joan Rivers and Jean Kerr, who wrote Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. As a child, his favorite book was Dominic by William Steig, whose illustrations clearly inspire Alex to this day. “Until I encountered the sublime courtesan Léa de Lonval in Colette’s Chéri, Dominic was my favorite hero of fiction. He is an intrepid dog who lives by himself until he goes out into the world and finds treasure and romance.”
I asked Alex why he’d never written a book about Provincetown, which seems the perfect setting for a children’s book, and he replied, “Dina Martina’s young adult series is so good that I just don’t feel I could compete.” Since that line of questioning didn’t go so far, I asked him instead about his first memory of Ptown. “It was a nut-caremelizingly hot day in August 1995,” he recalled. “My man and I arrived in the dead center of Commercial Street, took in the t-shirt stores and the taffy and the general carnival atmosphere, spun on our heels and left, vowing never to return.” But return he did. “Ten years later, I was invited by some friends to share a house on Pearl Street. I needed a week at the beach and didn’t much care where, so I said yes. Over the course of seven days the town’s light and magic got under my skin and now I am a lost man. I have to have at least two or three weeks at Poor Richard’s Landing every year or I feel funny.” So I asked him his favorite mode of transport to get here: scooner, magic carpet, or coach? “Tricycle,” he told me.