Sideshow! features circus and sideshow art

Special to The Log
Fred Johnson’s Bearded Lady, circa 1930s, from the Sideshow exhibition opening at Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries present the final show of 2013, Sideshow, an exhibition of sideshow, freak show and circus posters from the golden age of traveling entertainment. The show will be on view Oct. 25 to Dec. 4, with an opening reception from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the McIlroy and Holzhauer Galleries. The Galleries are always free and open to the public. Call 729–6044 for more information.

 Sideshow! Was curated by the University of Florida Galleries and comes to Northwest Florida State College courtesy of Howard and Robin Marks of Sanford, Fla., who have amassed an extensive collection of this important form of Americana.

The banners from the Marks collection on display in Sideshow! were painted between the mid-19th and mid-20th century, and were originally designed as advertisements. In the days before televised media, traveling shows announced their presence in town via large scale, brightly colored banners. These pieces, hand painted on canvas or wood panel, utilized primary colors and dynamic scenes of often shocking subject matter to attract audiences. The Rubber Boy, the Bearded Lady and people and animals very large, very small, or very strange inhabit these attention-getting scenes.