Categories
Coney Island Coney Island USA Exhibit History Interview Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Video Women

Gibsonton, Florida & Other Sideshow & Carnival Videos

Some wonderful videos here for those that enjoy ‘sideshows’ & ‘carnivals’.

An excerpt from History Channel’s Weird US series focusing on the American’s sideshow. Featuring a wonderful interview with Ward Hall. From 2007.

A walkthrough of the Gibsonton, Florida sideshow town museum. Originally broadcast on Travel Channel.

A Carnival Museum! | The International Independent Showman’s Museum | Riverview, FL – Shot by ‘ViewfromTheCheapSeats‘.


From the wilds of Coney Island, some history here in a few videos to whet your appetite for sideshow!

Coney Island Sideshow and Amusement Park – New York City History 1940

Shot in 2009 but this amazing Sideshow Venue – Coney Island USA – is still very wonderful – (once the Covid-19 issue is over the ‘Sideshow by the Seashore‘ will resume!

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Categories
Art Exhibit History Magic Performing Arts Photography Street Performing Variety Arts

Revisiting Jeff Sheridan Conjurer/inventor/magician

A few years ago I went to Frankfurt to visit magician Jeff Sheridan. He was working on some art collages and new magic illusions which were very amazing. Recently I spoke to him on the phone and he mentioned the Youtube video that he made in 2005. I have attached it below. Also, I created this slide show from photographs I have taken of Jeff Sheridan performing in Central Park and images taken from book covers and magazines where he was featured.

It was projected during Jeff’s performance at Monday Night Magic in 2005 which was hosted by Todd Robbins.
During the past several decades, Jeff has made Frankfurt his home and during this time he has performed at the legendary variety club Tiger Palast as well as many private engagements (Mercedes, Deutsch bank, etc). He has created many pieces of art/collages during his time in Frankfurt as well as invent many new magic illusions for Milton Bradley Magic Works, Japanese company Tenyo, and Viking Magic.

He authored the 1977 book, Street Magic, An Illustrated History of Wandering Magicians and Their Conjuring Arts. The book was co-authored by Edward Claflin.

Jeff Sheridan also authored in 1982 ‘Nothings Impossible, Stunts to Entertain and Amaze’ published by Lothrop Lee and Shepard. The book was illustrated with photographs by me.

His film “Jeff Sheridan – Hand to Mind” has been seen by over 24 thousand viewers on You Tube.

Posted here for your convenience!


Other posts about Jeff Sheridan can be found HERE!

~And HERE~

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Categories
Coney Island Coney Island USA Culture Project Exhibit Film History Interview Photography

Interview with Dick Zigun – Sideshow Hall of Fame

When you visit Coney Island USA you have an odd feeling you have stepped into another time. This ‘not-for-profit’ corporation is dedicated to ‘popular entertainment’ and like the rest of Coney Island, it means fun and excitement.

Dick Zigun is the founder of this wonderful oasis and has created a “Sideshow Hall of Fame” for all of us that are a ‘little different’.

Here he explains it all for you in this Vaudevisuals interview.

Become a member of Coney Island USA!

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Categories
Auction Circus Circus Memorabilia Clown Coney Island USA Exhibit Posters Potter & Potter Auction Sideshow Women

Circus • Sideshow • Oddities  – Potter & Potter Auction

  NOVEMBER 16, 2019 • 10:00 AM

Featuring the circus collection of Dave & Mary Jane Price, the November sale is slated to include nearly 1000 vintage circus posters, plus costumes, model circus trains, and other relics from bygone wonder-shows. The circus collectibles will be complemented by an array of unusual, uncommon, and unbelievable oddities, sideshow memorabilia, banners, photographs, taxidermy, and relics of the “believe it or not” variety. Highlights include Tom Thumb memorabilia, sideshow electric chairs, and props, and big, bold banners from the masters of the form.

Catalogs ship approximately three weeks before the auction. Previews will be held in our gallery on November 14—15, 10—5 pm.

~Here are a few amazing items from the entire collection being auctioned~

The first item is a side-show banner painted by Coney Island USA‘s own Marie Roberts.

Roberts, Marie. Ravi The Bendable Boy from Bombay. Sideshow Banner. Coney Island, 2004. The vibrant banner shows this contortionist bent inside a trunk, text below and above. Flown at the Coney Island Sideshow. 66 x 57”.

Mule-Face Woman. Sideshow Banner by Snap Wyatt. Tampa, FL, ca. the 1960s. Enormous double-length painted canvas sideshow banner. 240 x 108”. Signed “Snap Wyatt Studios/Rt. 3 Tampa Fla”.

Currier Lithograph of General Tom Thumb. Barnum’s Gallery of Wonders. New York: Nathaniel Currier, ca. 1849. Lithograph colored by hand, the central image after a daguerreotype by Plumbe. 14 x 10 ¼”. Margins trimmed, pale soiling around edges, short tears, and creases.

Buffalo Bill Cody Cabinet Card Photograph. New York: Stacy, ca. 1900. Cody is seen wearing his Stetson hat and embroidered buckskin jacket, with few patches of grey in his hair. Facsimile signature to verso as issued. 6 ½ x 4 ¼”. Few stains to verso, else fine.

San Antonio’s Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. The Sensation of Vaudeville. Kansas City: Quigley Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color lithograph depicting the famous conjoined twins. 42 x 27 ¾”. Linen-backed. Expertly restored losses and tears in image and margins, rubs and abrasions.

Ripley, Robert. Wilber Plumhoff the Pain Proof Man / Believe It Or Not. N.p., ca. the 1940s. Color poster depicting the performer with nails, pins, and buttons pierced through his skin. 28 x 21”. Linen-backed. Scattered restored losses to edges and along folds. B.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Side Show. Erie Litho, the 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster depicting the circus’s sideshow cast, prominently depicting violin and piano playing conjoined twins, a giant with little people, and others in the background. 18 ½ x 28”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring, mostly in margins and edges, some inpainting to tears in image. B.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. Francis Brunn. Greatest Juggler World Has Ever Known. The 1940s. Color lithograph portraying the performer juggling hoops while balancing balls on his fingertips and nose. 27 x 41”. Unmounted. Remnants of date-tail removal from bottom margin, folds, minimal edgewear. B.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Blacaman Hindu Animal Hypnotist. Erie Litho, ca. 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the performer hypnotizing massive ferocious lions, lightning bolts radiating from the hypnotist’s eyes. 27 ½ x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and tears in margins; a few repaired closed tears in image. B.

Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus. Madison Square Garden. Cincinnati: Strobridge Litho, 1898. One-sheet color lithograph poster depicting Madison Square Garden. 30 x 40”. Linen-backed. Margins trimmed a little unevenly, losses along vertical fold, repaired closed tears. B.

World of Mirth Shows. Dolly Jacobs. World’s Foremost Lady Trainer of Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1940s. Offset color lithograph showing the female lion and tiger trainer brandishing a whip. 41 x 13 ¼”. Linen-backed. Marginal stains and creases scattered restoration along folds. B-.

Cole Bros. Circus. The Great Grimes. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the high-wire equilibrist act in which two men on bicycle balance a woman standing on the shoulders of a man on a chair. 40 x 26”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. Bright copy. B+.

Cole Bros. Circus. Harold Barnes. Erie Litho, ca. 1935. Offset lithograph circus poster depicts the acrobat on the high wire above cheerleaders in circus sweaters with tennis rackets in hand. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Scattered losses and tears in image and along folds, dated in ink upper left. C.

Cole Bros. Circus. Getting Ready for the Ring. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster shows a man in baggy suit tying the slippers of a beautiful woman of the circus, as a clown and acrobat watch from the tent. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. B+.

Cole Bros. Circus. Allen King. Battling, Snarling, Roaring, Man-Eating Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color offset lithograph. 28 x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring in margins; restored small losses and inpainting along folds. B+.

Barnum and Bailey. Cleopatra. Cincinnati: Strobridge Litho., 1912. Intricate design includes eight vignettes, the centermost being portraits of the circus’ founders, P. T. Barnum and J. A. Bailey. “Cleopatra pageant” illustrated in three others. Ornate masthead. 39 5/8 x 30”. Faint tide marks stains in the lower margin. Linen-backed. B.

Al. G. Barnes—Sells Floto and John Robinson. The Human Fly Anna Merkel. Erie Litho, ca. 1938. Color offset lithograph depicts the performer in a feat of upside-down ceiling walking. Date-tail for performance in Decatur. 36 x 21”. Linen-backed. Nice copy; minimal touch-ups along central fold; small losses in margins and image expertly repaired. B+.

Achille Philion. The Marvelous Equilibrist and Originator. Buffalo: Courier, 1898. Color lithograph. 28 ½ x 42”. Older linen backing. Chipping and tears in margins, a few extending into image; restored losses in margins. B. Another version of the poster replaces “An Attraction Without Parallel” with the name of the circus Philion performed for, Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers.

Living Wonders! Unprecedented Novelties! American, ca. 1870. Circus sideshow broadside featuring woodcuts of a snake charmer, “The Mammoth Fat Girl” of Illinois, and “The Arab Giant” Col. Routh Goshen, and other living attractions. Matted to 25 x 13”. Minor foxing; very good.

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For more information and to bid go here!

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Categories
American Circus Art Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Exhibit NYGoofs Variety Arts Vaudeville Ventriliquist

Karen E. Gersch – Artist Portfolio

KAREN E. GERSCH

If anyone knows about the circus it is Karen E. Gersch. She has performed, created and directed circus and painted, drawn and illustrated it. Her work is beautiful and captures the whimsical nature of the circus soul. Here are a few choice examples of Karen’s work with her descriptive text.

The ‘Nickel’ in this oil painting, “Nickel Storms the Ring” was my teacher and mentor, Nina Krasavina, a star acrobat, aerialist ad the first woman clown ever to grace the ring of the Moscow Circus. After defecting to NYC in the mid-’70s with her husband, Gregory Fedin, they traveled with 3-ring circuses throughout the US and Canada. Nina and Grefory opened their own school, the Circus Arts Center, in an abandoned department store in Hoboken, which they ran for years, training many acts that had longtime professional careers. 

Gordoon”: acrylic on canvas portrait of Jeff Gordon, whose inventive and acrobatic routines made him a beloved and longtime featured performer with the Big Apple Circus, as well as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros., Walt Disney World, and various NYC theatre productions.

Kenny Raskin/New York Goofs”. Kenny is a physical comedian whose diverse and charming character work enlightens every stage, be it on Broadway, off-off-Broadway or Cirque du Soleil. He is someone I never tire of sketching; captured here during a New York Goofs engagement.

Little Tich” and his Big Boots Dance was a headlining act of the English music halls in the early 1900s. Tich (Harry Relph) was only 4’6” tall, but left large footprints with his eccentric and energetic dance routines, combining balancing skills with acrobatics. The slender wooden boots he performed in were 28 inches long! Relph is considered the forerunner of all screen comedy.

Darja is a Latvian-born acrobat whose professional partners happen to be small dogs and a potpourri of cats.  The setting for her act is a living room, complete with two dressers, a nightstand, and an oval carpet.  The drawers glide open and cats climb gracefully out, then jump in an arc to her shoulders, where they run and balance along with her extended limbs, as she turns walkovers, handstands, cartwheels, and splits.  A dog poses perfectly on her top hat while she executes back rolls and contortional poses.

    Darja performs primarily in Russia and Europe, in circuses, cabarets, and theaters.  Her animals travel with her – in carriers to the stage, but live uncaged in her hotel room, where they all share her bed.  I know, because I had the room next door to her in Leipzig, Germany, and was serenaded by her Siamese and Egyptian cats, who sang gustily all night!

“Richard Hayes”, also a British Music Hall performer, was a noted juggler and silent, deadpan comedian, often billed as “The Laziest Juggler in the World”. His oversized head, languid manner, and slow-motion moves distinguished his ball juggling routines.

This is a very early pastel sketch of Hilary Chaplain (1990’s) from the CircuSundays Series I used to run.  Hilary is one of the most prolifically funny and hardest working physical comediennes, whose recent work has delved deeply into emotional and historical elements.  In particular, her current production “The Last Rat of Theresienstadt” which takes place in the “Ghetto town”/concentration camp of Theresienstadt during the Holocaust.  Following a successful run in Europe, where she garnered top awards, the show will be presented at The Wild Project on November 13th and 14th.

“Senor and Friend”. Senor Wences began his career as an unsuccessful bullfighter before becoming a gifted ventriloquist. The Spanish performer was one of the highest-paid and most popular Vaudevillian acts in the world and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Wences died at the age of 103 in Manhattan.

“Slava’s Snow Show”. I first saw Slava Polunin in Cirque du Soleil’s production of Alegria, back in the 80’s, and was delighted by his simplistic and organic clowning (finally oversized clown proboscis and makeup used well by the clowns who wore them!) His signature romantic imagery, the surreal environments and emotional physical work he creates were resurrected in his first “Snow Show” that appeared on Broadway. This drawing was one of many rendered from his second run in NYC at Union Square.

Born in Prague, Tomas Kubinek and his parents fled the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and settled in Ontario, Canada, when he was only 3.  He fell in love with circus and clowns, began performing as a child and has never stopped, regularly traversing the globe with his imaginative and eccentric solo shows.

Waldo & Woodhead” (Paul Burke and Mark Keppel) were a couple of wild and zany guys, whose character-driven physical comedy and strong partner juggling made them a well known performing sensation around the globe. This painting, exhibited at several IJA Conventions, was sold three years ago.

For more information or to see other artwork, visit:

www.artbykeg.info on FB: “Art by Karen E. Gersch”

With the exception of “Waldo & Woodhead”, all the drawings and paintings here are unsold and available. Inquiries should be made to: keg37@frontier.com.

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Categories
Comedy Dance Darinka Exhibit Film Music Performing Arts Photography Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals Interview with Gary Ray – “Darinka”

Darinka Membership Card

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Alien Comic and DanceNoise at Darinka Flyer from 1985.

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Darinka interior archive shot.

‘They Might Be Giants’ performing at Darinka.

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The archives from Darinka were donated to The Fales Library & Special Collections at NYU. Here is a Biographical/Historical note from the archives.

Darinka: A Performance Studio was opened on April 21, 1984, by Gary Ray Bugarcic (aka Gary Ray). The club served as a venue for artists of all disciplines, including performance, theatre, music, dance, film, video, fine art, and poetry and prose. In keeping with the Eastern European roots of the East Village/Lower East Side, the club was named after Gary’s mother, who was Croatian-born. Darinka is a derivative of the Slavic word dar, meaning “gift.”

The club was located at 118 East First Street, two doors down from Avenue A, and had a speakeasy type entrance under the residential stoop of the building. Up to the late 1970s, the space was used as a local Italian Social Club until a fire destroyed it. During the renovation of the space, all the old charred beams were laid in the backyard to provide an urban rustic wood patio enjoyed by patrons during the hot summer months. The interior of the club had a small proscenium stage that was described by many as looking like a live television. A variety of local painters such as James Romberger and Mark Kostabi showed their work on the walls of the club until the permanent murals and stencils were painted. Regular performers included They Might Be Giants (considered the house band), performance artist Steve Buscemi (still a fireman when he started performing), Karen Finley, Jack Smith, Charles Long, William Pope L., Kembra Pfahler, Nick Zedd, Anna Deavere Smith, and John S. Hall. In addition, there were many writers who read during the Sunday prose and poetry nights, including Darius James, Patrick McGrath, Hal Sirowitz, Lynne Tillman, Mark Dery, Nina Zivancevic, Peter Cherches, Bob Holman, Ira Cohen and Taylor Meade.

On June 29, 1985, the NYPD raided the club during a mushroom party and performance by artists David West and Andy Somma. Gary Ray and the bartender, Robin Clements, were arrested for operating an unlicensed bottle club. Several months later Darinka reopened as a private club with Randy Lee Hartwig and John Gernand as managers. As a private club, each new member would fill out a membership application card upon entrance. The application cards were kept in a file near the door in case of a police inquiry. Membership cards were also distributed.

Darinka was the first home of “The Church of the Little Green Man.” The church was founded by conceptual artist Mike Osterhout and had its first service in December of 1986. Darinka closed in May of 1987.

Articles mentioning Darinka have appeared in The Village Voice,  New York magazine,  Performance,  East Village Eye,  Toronto Globe and Mail,  The New York Times, and  The Drama Review (Spring 1985). The club is also acknowledged in the documentary  Gigantic: A Tale Of Two Johns.

Gary Ray Bugarcic, a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, has worked as an actor and stage director in almost every downtown New York theatrical venue. As a musician, he played in several bands, including State of Desire and The Academy, which performed regularly at CBGB and Danceteria before opening Darinka. After closing the club he toured with Karen Finley in her play  The Theory of Total Blame and worked with The Ridge Theatre Company as well as with Kestutis Nakas and in Jeff Weiss’s “Hot Keys.” He has also appeared in such indie films as Todd Haynes’  Poison and  Desperately Seeking Susan.  New Blood magazine published his poetry in the 1980s and his “3-D Lenticular Photographs of the Eighties” have been shown in several New York City galleries, including the Participant Gallery.

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Here is a calendar list that Gary provided me to give an idea of the lineup that appeared every week at Darinka in 1985.

1/4, Ted Sputnik & his Orchestra plus the music of Kid Ego (Gary Quasar), plus performance with Mike Smith.

 1/5,  Show of Force, films and performance w/ Richard Kern and Brian Moran.

 1/6,  Short stories & Poetry w/ M.Kasper, Kennon Raines, Sadik Sedan (Sedik Grice), Bruce Benderson and Lisa Blauchild.

 1/11, performance w/ Leonard Grendel in “Do You Want to Fight $11,750,000 ?” plus music w/ Tom Cora.

1/12,  Accordion Summit # 2 presented by Zeena Parkins w/ the B’Z’s Squeezes and Billy Swindler and the Happy New Yorkers. Also Guy Klusevek performed.

 1/13,  Poetry w/ Robert Kendall and friends.

 1/18, They Might Be Giants, plus the music of Bond Bergland.

 1/19,  Films by Mark Kehoe including; “Revenge of the Amazons,” “Metal Madam,” and “The Naked Hiptress.” Plus performance w/ Michael Smith and the music of Burnt Orange.

1/20,  Poetry w/ Amy Shaipiro & friends with Sharon Gannon, David Life, Sue Ann Harkey, Judy Berger, Eric Eddy, and Stephen Paul Miller.

 1/25, Performance w/ Cindy Frawely’s  “War Dreams,” plus video & performance w/ Steve Thurston and James Minnis.

 1/26,  Directart Productions Ltd. Present A Cavalcade of films. “Three Step” & “Minute of Mystery,” animation by Joey Ahlbum and “Bass Line” & “Devil Movie’ by Barry Masterson, “Dapple-Grey’ & Dirt Road” by Leslie Pascel-Laufer, “Soul City” by M.Henry Jones, “Bloody Stump” by Michael Wolfe & Sidney Gilbert. “A Portrait of the Man’ by Fabio Roberti & Directart Films. Plus 2 films about the local band The Jickets; “Good Lovin’ Guitar Man” and “Heterosexual Love” by Directart Films.

 

1/27,  Celebrate Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Birthday “ The Disciplines of Distress” a play by Greg Masters & Jeff Wright w/ Elinor Nauen, Doris Kornish, Francesca Shrady, Blair Breard, Jeff Wright  and Greg Masters. Plus readings by Carla Liss, Don Yorty, Mayer, Hamilton and Mastersschiff.

 2/3,  The Tweed Theatre presents: Tzara’s “The Gas Heart.” Directed by Kevin Malony. Plus Club 86’ed w/ Mike Golden, Bob Riedel, Meegan McCombs, Rusty Hoover, Janet Cannon, Phil Herter and Mike Schwartz.

 2/8,  music and dance w/ Gregg Bendian, Ned Rothenberg, Sally Silvers and Pooh Kaye.

 2/9,  “A Hollow Venus (the Diary of a GoGo Dancer),” performance w/ Heather Woodbury.

 2/10,  Hard Boiled Night of Readings curated by Peter Cherches w/ Bill Dupp, Jim Strahs, Lee Eiferman and Sue Weinstein.

 2/15,  Nancy Cassaro’s “Be My Valantine” w/Otis Jah Baker, DeWitt Mebane, Jennie Moreau, Mark Nassar, Hal Simons and Moira Wilson.

 2/16,  Barbara Lehmann’s “Physical Education” performance concerning her medical history.

 2/16,  Music – Hugo Largo- w/ Mimi Goese.

 2/23-24, They Might Be Giants plus performance with Watchface.

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Thanks to Gary Ray for this interview!

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Categories
Exhibit Magic Performing Arts Photography Puppetry Story Teller Video

The Theatre of Robert Anton – An Exhibition

The Theater of Robert Anton

It must have been early 1980’s, and I was working (performing as a mime) at an upstate NY fair “German Alps Festival” at Hunter Moutain. The festival included many performers and once in awhile we would meet up after the day’s work was done and attend a show or movie together. One day puppeteer Eric Bass recommended that we see this show with puppeteer Robert Anton.

The performance was one of the most hypnotic performances I have ever witnessed! Wearing only black pants and black top he performed with a neutral facial expression while making his little puppets come alive. Since he did not allow recordings of any of his performances the work remains legendary. I will leave the details of his show to others to describe.

I was delighted to see that Broadway 1602 Gallery had mounted an exhibit of his puppets with other articles from his shows and work. I have included video interviews (courtesy of Broadway 1602 Gallery) and photographs from the show here. Thanks to Broadway 1602 for allowing me to capture this beautiful exhibit and post documents and photographs from it.

 Robert Anton passed away at age 35 in 1984.

Robert AntonRobert Anton in one of the few photographs taken of him during his show.

(Courtesy Broadway 1602 Gallery)

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– a couple of scenes from the work of Robert Anton, a beloved puppeteer of the nineteen-seventies: “Anton as puppeteer-surgeon sometimes probes his figures with a tiny forceps, pulling out a brain or a heart, or finding inside (in one show) a red stone, a red branch, a red starfish, red feathers, and red fur. In another show, a bag lady who has assembled herself out of a heap of miniature refuse peers into the puppeteer’s own mouth in search of new objects.”

Excerpt from “Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life” by Kenneth Gross

Robert AntonA rare photograph of Robert Anton during a performance. (Courtesy of Broadway 1602 Gallery)

(Courtesy of Broadway 1602 Gallery)

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Letter from Diana Vreeland at Metropolitan Museum to Robert after one of his performances.

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“A visionary theater of whose scale is inversely proportional to the scope of Robert Wilson’s vast panorama is the puppet theater of Robert Anton. Performing rituals of transformation and rebirth and original alchemical allegories with an Artaudian emphasis are miniature finger-puppet actors, whose heads are no larger than one and a half inches. They enact these silent and mysterious rites on a small black velvet stage before an audience of no more than eighteen spectators.”

Gloria Feman Orenstein, “The Theater of the Marvelous”, New York University Press, 1975

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“His inventions would look to him for reassurance. That was always very moving…His movements of the face were minimal, withholding of himself, a supreme actor…He could express powerful contempt: The pope with an absurd mitra, degraded to cardinal/bishop, gets closed in a jail tower in his finery…then becomes a blind man tapping. Then a horrid puppet with leather gear and a shaved head, a lot like Himmler –pisses on a target on that prison. He’s got one leg, walks with a crutch…diabolical. (Something right out of George Grosz.) Three visual artists were most important to him: Bosch, Redon and Grosz…The puppets he took to the Plaza to show Fellini…He knew Fellini’s movies inside out. The one that meant the most to him was TOBY DAMMIT, also JULIET OF THE SPIRITS…Nino Rota’s music. He unconditionally respected Chaikin and Stella Adler. When she came to his performances, she talked throughout to the puppets. …The play involved a redemption from the world, an overcoming – a metaphysical confrontation.”

Benjamin Taylor, “Robert Anton in Retrospect,” Theater Ex, 1986

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Main room of the Broadway 1602 Gallery featuring the puppets of Robert Anton.

Secondary room featuring works on paper and cases displaying fragile clothing and documents.

Robert Anton’s entire show was carried in these suitcases. The interiors were divided up into precisely made sections of felt backed compartments that housed the puppets and small masks/props for the show.

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THE ACTORS

Off all the puppet actors I photographed this one reminded me of how ‘real’ the characters in his plays were when he animated them. Robert only allowed 15 people at a time to attend his performances and the images here are what the puppet actors would have looked like had you been one of those audience members as I was.  If you want to see more of the exhibit visit the Broadway 1602 Gallery website here.

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From Broadway 1602 Gallery Exhibit Notes

Already from the tender age of nine, Anton followed an original childhood impulse to create en miniature: He re-built the stage sets of famous Broadway musicals he had seen with his parents in New York and London, reduced to a proscenium of 18” across and 12” high, and yet so breathtaking in detail and elegant precision that Anton was endorsed by journalists in his hometown Forth Worth in the mid 1960s as the “ingenuity of a Michelangelo”.

Anton arrived in New York in 1970, after two years of stage and costume design studies at Carnegie-Mellon University. He continued his studies in New York at the Studio and Forum of Stage Design.  In 1973, collaborating with the composer Elizabeth Swados, Anton designed the scenery for the Broadway musical “Elizabeth I” — his drawings for the queen’s costume survived. In the same year, his collaborations with Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa theatre began where he also staged his own plays. Repeat performances took place in his apartment on West 70th Street. Among the enthused audience and supporters were La MaMa Playwright and director Jean-Claude van Itallie, who was inspired by Anton’s ‘actors’ and started introducing puppets to his own plays, writer Susan Sontag and her son David Rieff, famed acting teacher Stella Adler, childhood friend and novelist Benjamin Taylor (Anton features as “the puppeteer” in his autobiographical debut novel “Tales out of School”, 1995), actress Linda Hunt who was soon to become a star in Robert Altman and David Lynch’s movies, theatre revolutionary Peter Brook, Broadway tap dancer, singer and choreographer Tommy Tune, Broadway’s director legend Hal Prince, the doyenne of the fashion world Diana Vreeland, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, to name a few.

Between 1974-75 Anton presented his puppet theatre at Robert Wilson’s Byrd Hoffmann Foundation and directed at the National Theater of the Deaf in Waterford, CT. His tour through Europe began, first performing at the Mickery Theater in Amsterdam. In 1975 Anton represented the United States at the International Theater Festival in Nancy, France, causing an avalanche of enthusiastic reviews in the French press depicting Anton’s miniature theatre as one of the most memorable and outstanding acts of the festival. The Nancy engagement introduced Anton to France’s flamboyant cultural minister Jacques Lang. In 1976, President Francois Mitterand and Jacques Lang designated the Château de Vincennes outside of Paris for Anton to set up his studio and living quarters and to perform for one year. Anton presented his plays and co-founded a visual/mime theatre program for the deaf-mute at the Chateau. In 1977 he created a new production for the Festival D’Automne in Paris.

Upon his return to New York in 1978, Anton moved to a large loft on 96 Spring Street and presented nightly performances of the “Paris Spectacle”. In 1981 Robert Anton was appointed as the American representative at the Theater der Welt Festival in Cologne. In the same year, he performed at the Teatro Argentina in Rome where he met Fellini again.

In the early 1980s, Anton’s experimentation took him to new stage designs, a move connecting him back to his childhood Broadway musical stages while the ‘actors’ fade into the background. Anton created glamorous miniature stage sets as “an homage to the 1940s” (Benjamin Taylor), sets like ‘Radio City Hall’ animated with grand and witty gestures to the tunes of Fred Astaire and Busby Berkeley. From there, Anton further radicalized his concepts. His last work was a play composed purely of light, exploring the psychological impact and metaphysical dimension of color, once more elaborately staged in a miniature proscenium: “A third final spectacle remained unfinished at this death. Totally unpopulated, it would have been an evocative constellation of set, sound, and light.” (Genii Grassi, “Robert Anton in Retrospect”, Theater Ex, 1986).

In an endeavor to bring back to a contemporary audience — and to the many of his generation who were not part of the blessed and illustrious able to see his performances — the experience of Robert Anton’s theatre, we interviewed on film, and continue to do so, witnesses of his plays and his life, friends and peers who were close to Anton’s universe. These dedicated and moving testimonies are an integral part of the exhibition and will constitute the core of a future documentary on The Theatre of Robert Anton.

We would like to express our gratitude to Bette Stoler who brought The Theatre of Robert Anton to us and who shared her memories of her friend and his context with us to help to realize the project. We also would like to thank Anton’s friends and peers who so generously shared their memories with us in the filmed interviews giving such rich testimony to Anton’s history.

Anke Kempkes

“The Theatre of Robert Anton” at BROADWAY 1602 UPTOWN, December 2016 – February 2017

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Documentary film produced in the context of the exhibition “The Theatre of Robert Anton” by BROADWAY 1602 
Interviewed are the following people:
Benjamin Taylor – Writer
Rosemary Quinn – Theater Director, Actress, Teacher
Jeremy Lebensohn – Sculptor, Set Designer
Tommy Tune – Actor, Dancer, Director
Terry Rosenberg – Artist
Bette Stoler – former Gallerist, friend.
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Robert Anton Exhibit in the Press:
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Broadway 1602 is a wonderful gallery located at 5 East 63rd St, NYC. For more information about upcoming exhibits visit their website here.
Categories
Cornelia Street Cafe Exhibit Party Photography

“Finding Solitude” Exhibit Closing Party Dec. 5th.

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ARTIST STATEMENT

My work explores the connection between places and internal solitude. While capturing these select images, I found myself reflecting upon ideas, plans, and dreams while suddenly realizing I was solo within the cultural landscape minus its inhabitants. I intend to take the viewer to this quiet place of contemplation where the textures, shapes, and light provide a heightened sensation of the solo perspective. From the hush in the light drenched hall of the Louvre in Paris or gritty ancient feel of the Italian hills of Matera, I hope to expose the details of solitude that might be missed in a crowded metropolis.

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Finding Solitude

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Come on Dec. 5th and help CELEBRATE!

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Categories
American Circus Circus Clown Comedy Exhibit Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater Quick Change Artists Variety Arts

Photographs from IN/SIGHTS – Clown/Actor Bill Irwin

“When you’re onstage, part of you wants to be off as fast as possible. And once you’re offstage, everything is in anticipation of the next time you’re on.”

Bill Irwin

Studio photographs of Bill Irwin taken Nov. 1986 by Jim R. Moore

Published in the book IN/SIGHTS – Moore Photographs

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Here are some additional links to some great resources on Bill Irwin and his brilliant clown work!

Great Performances film “Bill Irwin Clown Prince”.

Bill Irwin’s website

Bill Irwin in Vanity Fair Magazine

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Categories
Bouffon Clown Comedy Exhibit Mime Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater

Flashback Promo – Work I have done in the past that is still great to look at!

This is a new series I am starting that begins today!

Photographs and flyers (that were made with my photographs).

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Litsedeyi – Russian Clown Troupe from Leningrad performing at Philadelphia Mime Clown Theater Festival (circa 1985)

LitsedeiSlava Polunin performing with Litsedeyi at the Philadelphia Mime Clown Festival.

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Excerpt from my book “IN/SIGHTS – Moore Photographs” published by Mime Journal/Pomona College ©1988.