Sideshow Art

In the summer of 1973 I ran off to join the circus.  My job was to paint a side show attraction for the midway entitled “Giant Jungle Rats.”  I had told my circus employer that I was studying painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and he was willing to give me a chance to prove myself. Traveling with the circus inspired me and hardened my resolve to become a “show painter,”—one hired to perform the decorative painting needs of circuses and carnivals. 

This experience led me to a painting job for Dell & Travers Carnival in spring of 1974 at a show date on base at Ft. Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina.  There I entered the side show world through the auspices of Captain Harvey Boswell and his “Palace of Wonders,” a mobile museum and “odditorium.”

While repainting an old “Himalaya” music ride I was able to gaze day and night on his fantastic banner line composed entirely of Fred G. Johnson’s creations.

Magic Banners

After meeting several banner painters and admiring their unique livelihood, I began producing canvas banners for escape artist Andy Dallas.

(view more magic banners)