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August 15 - October 2, 2013

Creativity Explored

San Francisco, CA

Sideshow (detail) by Gordon Shepard © 2004 Creativity Explored. Mixed media, Mixed media, 30 x 73.5 x 31.5 inches.

Step right up! CE artists put a modern twist on the sideshow performers of yesteryear.

Using the visual trappings of historical sideshows, studio artists promote their own individual talents and unique qualities, versus the disempowering portrayals of circus performers of days gone by.

Historically, sideshow promoters would often use exaggerated or bizarre images along with sensational headlines on hand-painted banners to conjure up exotic or fantastic portrayals of the performers in order to lure in the gullible thrill seeker or genuinely curious and sell more tickets. Sideshow advertisers also created pitch cards; souveniers (similar to baseball cards) of performers' photos, life stories, and unique stunts and acts.

For SIDESHOW, Creativity Explored artists wrote and illustrated their own pitch cards, choosing a specific self image and the biographical information they wanted to promote to the public, as well as depicting any aspect(s) of themselves that they wanted to share.

Popular sideshow imagery such as canvas banners portraying the performers in lurid colors and distorted forms also appear in the exhibition. Creativity Explored artists were invited to use language and text, typical of old fashioned banners, exaggerating their physical and mental attributes (e.g., AMAZING!, Only 12 inches tall!, etc.)

Text distributed throughout the exhibit will provide gallery visitors with an opportunity to draw comparisons between traditional sideshow performers and persons with disabilities in general, as well as artists with developmental disabilities in particular, in turn, illuminating their frequently complex associations and examining the nuances of exploitation.

A special feature of the exhibit will be a 1/12 scale Sideshow diorama by former CE artist Gordon Shepard, in addition to his short film about sideshow performers.

Curated by E. Francis Kohler.

Opening Reception

Thursday, August 15, 2013

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Come dressed as your favorite sideshow performer (e.g., bearded lady, alligator skin man, half male/half female etc.)! 

Donor Preview*

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

*To become a donor, click here.

Creativity Explored’s 30th Anniversary exhibitions are supported by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.

Exhibition Sponsors:

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