Night Circus: Continuity and Contrast in a Work

“Night Circus” was a great piece to work on. I have an ambivalent interest in the subject of the circus, (I think that is true for a lot of us.) Personally, I love the idea of a circus, LOVE it. A world of glitz and glam and escape for the family, the frivolity, the high jinx, happy people working to give us an escape from our everyday life. But, of course, over the years we have become aware of the shortcomings of circus life: the animal cruelty, the dehumanization of side show people, the dust and grime.

Here’s the description I wrote originally for this piece:

“The initial inspiration for Night Circus came from a vintage photo of the two clowns. The contradiction between the notion of innocent, happy-go-lucky tricksters and these two austere fellows was too great to pass by.

I am presenting the subject in a severe landscape, devoid of nature and life. The two characters stand guard at a seedy, dilapidated house with an enticing neon sign over the door. And in spite of the innocent pup performing tricks, we have come upon one of the ‘uh-oh’ moments, where we should turn-tail and get away quickly.”

But, I would like the viewer to think a little deeper about what I have portrayed here. Here, the circus has been pushed to the crumbiest part of town. I don’t know if the house is hiding corruption, or if it just the last holdout of a dying ideal, like the windows I occasionally see displaying the signs, Palm Reader. The two men in clown dress may only be guarding the last bit of pride of their profession. And I still wouldn’t send my kid in there…

And yet, there still remains the innocence of that pup.

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