Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Life Really is A Circus

Never has my blog banner been more appropriate! Although I haven't run off and joined yet, it does seem as if my life has been revolving around the circus lately. The most exciting news, of which I am just a teeny tiny part, is that art friend Lisa Kettel is having her art book, Art Circus, published by Quarry Books (see cover above). It has a real ISBN number 1592534872 and ISBN-13 978-1592534876 and can be found on Amazon! I think she's arrived. Did I mention a piece of my art is in the book? I didn't? Well, I AM IN THE BOOK!
I've been published a few times before: poetry, crochet (editing) and a small piece of artwork in Never Forgotten, published unexpectedly by ZNE, but THIS is the big deal. I was invited by Lisa to be in the book, which was an incredible opportunity, and I created a piece of art specifically for Lisa for the book and as a gift to her. What is it, you ask? You'll just have to BUY THE BOOK!
I did not know at the time the book would be called Art Circus, although coincidentally, Lisa started a handmade/non-published book of original art in her Flickr group, The Faerie Zine, that is also circus-related.
Since I had signed up for that, which entails creating 28 original pages, front and back, 5" x 5", I started looking for circus ephemera. This led me to vendor night at Art & Soul in Hampton, VA recently where I scored some collage sheets, a vintage ad and some old and colorful popcorn bags (shown above).
Today I happened to find in an antique mall a coffee table circus book that I thought I would cut up for collage materials since it was not old or valuable. However, I started reading and was just sucked in, and now I could never cut it up! I had forgotten all about Indiana's colorful history with the circus! The city of Peru (pronounced Pee-roo), about 45 minutes south of my home, has long been known as Circus City USA and is now home to the International Circus Hall of Fame. the authors interviewed descendants of a number of circus families and performers who had their heyday in the late 1800s. I also discovered the book was published by the Indiana Historical Society.
According to the book, at one point Peru, IN boasted three thousand acres for circus winter quarters, five full circuses which together were larger than the Ringling Brothers' enterprise, 500 employees and a calliope manufacturing firm. More than 50 elephants were kept over the winters in Peru as well as other exotic animals. Other fascinating information can be found at the Circus Hall of Fame Web site,
The book also details the evolution of circus travel from foot (known as 'mud shows') to rail (the most successful) and now truck. I also learned there was a large circus company in Rochester, IN, even closer to home. Having been a writer at the local newspaper for several years, I have no idea how I did not know this!
In truth, the circus has never interested me until now. I also shied away from county fairs, amusement parks and the like, viewing them, due to lack of understanding, as dirty and dangerous. Clowns never really interested me as a child, but nor did they frighten me, thank goodness. In fact, I think I found them "creepier" as an adult. That has changed somewhat, after learning of the necessary training and education required to be a true clown that two different business colleagues, Tom Morrical and Pam Griffin, have gone through for their after-hours craft. It is most definitely a skill, with particular protocols.
And so, while I can hardly wait to get my hands on Art Circus, I think I might also be paying a visit to Circus City Days in Peru this year, July 12-19, see for info. Ladies and gentlemen, c'mon down!


andrea said...

Hi Gina! Congrats on the book - I'm going to Amazon from here! I've circus train memories from when it came through my hometown from Baraboo, WI on it's way to Milwaukee. These days, we go to John and Mabel Ringling's museum and home down in Sarasota , FL on spring break. Ditto for me not really appreciating the circus until recently. I'm reading Water for Elephants (novel by Sara Gruen) right now, which is about circus life in the '30s. It's good so far, if you'd like a little more circus in your life! I'm envious that you went to Art and Soul! I'm still neck-deep in dealing with my mom, unfortunately. Trying to JUGGLE everything with the family here and her there... Wish I had some CIRCUS skills!!!!! (I have posted on both my blogs this weekend, tho'!) Good to visit you, Gina!

Joanne Huffman said...

Gina, How incredibly cool that your work was solicited to be in a book! Way to go, girl!


Sandy said...

Oh Gina congrats on being in the book! The Circus is such a fascination! You scored some awesome Circus finds!Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!


faerie enchantment said...

You are truly amazing, do you know that Miss Gina? It is such an honor to know you and to be able to say that you are in the book, The Art Circus, I don't think it would be complete if Gina Smith wasn't in there! You are my inspiration!
Thank You!
Lots of Magic and Joy!

Loudlife said...

That's awesome about the book!!! Congratulations! I can't wait to get a copy!

And what a score on that Circus book - it sounds wonderful!

I love your art and soul stuff - and I'm dying to see more, more, more! (I'm living vicariously through others)

I'm finally back in the land of the blogging and found that I was tagged by Pam, and now I'm tagging you...stop on by!