Palace of Wonders, 1990

My interest in curating museum exhibits began back in 1990, when I teamed up with Randy Johnson (grandson of iconic banner painter Fred G. Johnson) to co-curate “Palace of Wonders: Sideshow Banners of the Circus and Carnival,” for the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign/Urbana Illinois. This was one of the first overviews of sideshow banners ever mounted. Interest in sideshow banners led Randy to design and author the book “Freaks, Geeks, and Strange Girls,” (1995) in which I was also a contributor. This book explored sideshow banner painting and its history.

Palace of Wonders, 1990 Krannert Art Museum

2006  Cosmic Consciousness:  the Works of Robert Bannister

Work of Robert Bannister

Besides the banner show at the Krannert Art Museum, I have guest curated two other exhibitions there, including the 2006 exhibit “Cosmic Consciousness: The Works of Robert Bannister,” and in 2010, “Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster.” Both exhibitions featured works of self-taught artists.  (more about the Bannister Show)

2010 Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster

The Finster exhibition was the first overview of this artist’s life and work following Finster’s death in 2001, and featured many previously unseen works from Finster’s early years. The show traveled to six additional venues, including Chicago’s Cultural Center, the Jule Collins Smith Museum at Auburn University (Alabama), the Tennessee State Museum, the Jacksonville Contemporary Art Museum (Florida), Akron Art Museum (Ohio), and the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. With the help of the Krannert Art Museum staff, I also authored the exhibition catalog, Stranger in Paradise. (more about the Finster Show)