Archive for December 8th, 2011

On my way to deliver some new work to the Kada Gallery in Erie, I was driving across the empty part of western New York yesterday, a couple of hundred miles of very sparse traffic which leaves you lots of time to let thoughts just randomly weave in and out of your mind.  It’s funny, the things that settle at these times.  People you haven’t thought of for many years.  Things that you haven’t done since you were a kid.  Sometimes people and things that have little meaning for you.  Plans and things you want to do in the future.

Yesterday, I was thinking about the circus for some unknown reason.  Maybe it was a thought of one of the circus paintings from Pablo Picasso. like the one shown here, or the ones from Seurat that I wrote about here in the past.  There’s something very visually interesting in the circus, with it’s costuming and showmanship.

But more than that it made me think of how I have viewed the circus over the years.  Growing up, the circus and circus style acts were big staple of television in the early 60’s and, I’m sure, the 50’s.  Aerialists, jugglers, clowns of every shape and size, lion tamers and a variety of other animal acts were often part of many variety shows.  I can’t quite remember all the details, but there was even a show that was devoted to circus acts. 

 As a kid, I was enthralled by these acts and performers.  Even my first date with my wife involved going to a circus that was appearing in our local minor league ballpark.  It was one of those things that was sort of engrained in my young psyche.  But over time, the gloss faded from the illusion of the circus for me.  I no longer found the idea of performing animals charming in any way.  In fact,  it bothered me deeply.  It also  became apparent that the  lives of many of the human performers were not easy either.  Their moments in the spotlight in their shiny outfits were short and masked the hours spent in second rate motels and restaurant while crisscrossing the  backroads of this country. 

The illusion was gone for me.

But  still, the idea and ideal of the circus in the mind brings forth strong imagery.  The tension of a daring performance and the anticipation of the crowd.  The aura of the spotlight and how all eyes were focused hard on whatever was going on in that center ring.  It was a great illusion and was part of my childhood memories. 

That was part of my drive yesterday.  Don’t know exactly why.  Maybe someting will appear in my own work.  We’ll see.

Here’s one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs, one that fits this post to a tee.  It’s a 1973 performance of his image filled Wild Billy’s Circus Story

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