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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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Aerial Acts American Circus Burlesque Circus Comedy Dixon Place Film Juggling Music NYGoofs Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts Ventriliquist Video Women

Hovey Burgess 75th Birthday Spectacular at Dixon Place – A Celebration!


Hovey Burgess speaks at the Opening of his Birthday Celebration.

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Cover of Souvenir Program

List of Acts performing at Spectacular Birthday Party

Phil Marsh, Jen Slaw, Kristin Olness, Dick Monday, Carla Rhodes, Zero Boy, Valerie Benoit, Trixie Little, Boo Boo Darlin, Michael Davis, Tara Quinn, Pinkie Special, Keith Nelson, Michelle Dortignac, Tanya Gagne, Lil’ Miss Lixx, Logan Kerr.

See Full Program here!

 2015.09.07_HoveyB.196Hovey opened the show with a nice talk. (see  video above)

Stephanie Monseu host the evening’s festivities.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.224Phil Marsh led the show off with a great rendition of Country Joe McDonald’s song. (see video)

2015.09.07_HoveyB.240Jen Slaw performed a beautiful cigar box and ball routine.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.342Kristin Olness performed an exquisite aerial hoop act.

Dick Monday played the saw and touched the audience’s funny bone in his unique way.

Carla Rhones and Cecil Sinclair tore up the house with the ‘Donald Trump’ impersonation.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.447-2Zero Boy performed a hysterical ‘Road Runner’ cartoon with his vocal sound fx and physical comedy.

Valerie Benoit and Tristan Nielsen performed a lyrical acrobatic act that was amazing.

Trixie Little and Boo Boo Darlin were the B’day cake surprises for Hovey.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.519Hovey looks on as Trixie and Boo Boo get ready to ‘bake the cake’ for Hovey.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.532The brilliant comedian Michael Davis was hilarious.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.545He explained to the audience that he wanted to do his ‘pingpongball’ act but Hovey insisted on juggling.

Michael Davis at Dixon PlaceMichael Davis’ finale was  juggling a machete, meat cleaver and hachet.

Tara Quinn at Dixon PlaceTara Quinn performed an amazing physical balance/contortion act.

Pinkie Special performed her hysterically physical ‘twirler’ act.

Keith Nelson at Dixon PlaceKeith Nelson introduces the audience to the sword and how deep it goes.

Keith NelsonKeith Nelson swallows the sword for the audience.

2015.09.07_HoveyB.791An aerial trio was performed by Michelle Dortignac(Left), Kris Olness (Top) and Tanya Gagne. (Left)

Hovey Burgess throws a ‘kiss’ to the audience as Paul Binder (left) and Stephanie Monseu stand nearby.

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Aerial Acts American Circus Big Apple Circus Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret Burlesque Circus Clown Comedy Dixon Place Juggling Music NYGoofs Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater Variety Arts Ventriliquist Women

Hovey Burgess 75th Birthday Spectacular – Official Program – Performer Bios

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This event was produced by Bindlestiff  Family Variety Arts, Inc.

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Circus NYGoofs Performing Arts Physical Theater Video

NY GOOFS Summer workshop in NYC – 2014

Every year I have the chance to photograph one of the most delightful and funny workshops held in NYC. NY Goofs. Here is a short video of an improv performed by 4 of the workshop participants during the final days of the workshop.
They are having one this summer as well. Anyone seriously interested in clown, physical comedy and just plain laughs should look into attending.
For more information: http://bit.ly/1vhsYrY

CAP 21 Studios, AUGUST 10-15, 2014
Faculty:
Dick Monday * Tiffany Riley * Michael Preston * Barbara Karger * Hilary Chaplain * Hovey Burgess
NY Goofs Workshop students in 2011
NY Goofs Workshop students in 2011
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Circus Clown Comedy Juggling Music NYGoofs Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater Variety Arts

NY Goofs – 2009 Performance ‘Hotel Bananas’ at The Flea Theater

While updating my archive software I came across quite a few wonderful images from shows I had photographed in the past.

One of my favorite shows is the NY Goofs show. The group gathers up such a wonderful collection of talented clowns from all over to perform in this Annual Clown Spectacular Extravaganza.

Here are some photographs I took at the 2009 show ‘Hotel Bananas‘.

2009.07.25_NYGoofs-519Backstage before the show -Center to right – Chris Allison (back to camera)Larry Pizoni, Joel Jeske, Watson Kawecki, Greg DiSanto.

2009.07.25_NYGoofs-544Mark Gindick, Chris Allison, Joel Jeske, Hovey Burgess, Lisa Lewis & Watson Bill Kawecki  juggling clubs. 

Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley at The Flea TheaterDick Monday is a little disgruntled and Tiffany Riley can’t understand why. One of the very funny clown duet routines they perform.

NY Goofs at The FleaA few members of the cast of NY Goofs show “HOTEL BANANAS” at The Flea Theater on July 25th, 2009

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For more information on NY Goofs shows and clown workshops go HERE!

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Circus Clown Juggling NYGoofs Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts

NY Goofs Summer Workshop – 2012

Last week the NY Goofs completed a full week clown workshop at The Flea in lower Manhattan.

I attended the final performance and was able to get a good idea of how much fun the workshop had been and what great talent the students had.

Led by Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley the workshop includes other select teachers. This summer Jay Stewart, Hovey Burgess, Hilary Chaplain were on hand.

Here are some photographs from the show.

Dick Monday of the NY Goofs introduces the audience to the class show.

Arthur Lazalde and Connor Talon perform an original piece

Mariko Iwasa and Cameron McCall performing at the final show together.

Michelle Silvani and Harrison Hanney in a little romantic piece.

Emmanuelle Preciado and Mariko Iwasa perform the “Statue” piece.

Victor Joel Ortiz performs solo piece.

Lily Monday and Nick Stewart perform a little improv together.

Hiro Yamamoto and Joan Regalski perform a funny duet.

Nick Stewart shows off some of his new skills learned from Hovey Burgess.

The Final Hurrah at the NY Goofs Clown Workshop this summer 2012.

[Not all the students acts are represented here.]

For information or to register for next summer’s NY Goofs workshop go here!

{Any students from this workshop that would like to inquire about copies of these or other photographs please go here:  http://jimrmoore.com}

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Circus Clown Music NYGoofs Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts

An interview with Dick Monday – Clown, educator, cofounder NYGoofs

I was very interested in hearing the history of the NYGoofs. I had seen the name around for years and knew a few performers that worked with them. Finally a few years ago I began documenting their shows.

(Thanks to original Goofs member Hilary Chaplain)

Located at the Flea Theater in Lower Manhattan, the NYGoofs held a ‘Clown School‘ that lasted between one and two weeks two times a year.

Many aspiring clowns, comedians, actors and other physically trained movement performers take these classes. The second year I photographed the workshops they had Avner The Eccentric teaching as well as Dick Monday and his wife Tiffany Riley, Hovey Burgess, Barry Lubin, Jay Stewart, Hilary Chaplain and many others.

This year I wanted to get more information about the origins of the group and hear what Dick Monday had to say about this ‘clown venture’ that has lasted quite a few years!

Here is an interview that covers all that and more. I enjoyed working with Dick, Tiffany, Chet and Lily as well as the entire cast of performers that did the

WATER FOR CLOWNS show this year. Go here for photographs and more information on that show.

Dick Monday Interview

 

Recently Dick and Tiffany sat for me to do a portrait for my Clown Un_Mask series.

This video can NOT be Embedded to play on other sites!