Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Update

Treebeard, Acrylic on Bristol Board. 7"x 9 1/4"

Well, the weekend has begun and I'm taking the time to try new things, meet people, etc.. To that end I've looked up the Southwest Texas Society Children,s Book Writers and Illustrators. I've been illustrating for a few years now, primarily for educational print and web media. Mostly I've been learning as I go but now I think it's time to put it into high gear. I've been writing a book for the last year and a half and need to learn more about writing and publishing. I've signed up for their mailing list and will make their next meeting.

Tomorrow is the Huevos Rancheros fundraiser at Guadalupe and I should go to shmooze a bit. I like to keep to myself. Socializing doesn't come easy to me but I need to get out and about more in order to network. Networking involves small talk. Yuck. Oh, well. I've got to try.

This day also includes prop building for the S.A. Met. If the weather holds out I'll be able to work out back otherwise I'll be stuck in the garage. I wanted also to post an illustration I made this weekend of Treebeard from The Lord of the Rings films. If anyone is interested I'll be doing more and they are for sale too. See ya!

Friday, September 17, 2010

King Royal Brothers Circus

A number of years ago, 1992 to be exact, I did some ad and poster art for a locally owned one ring circus. The King Royal Brothers Circus had it's office on the far south side of town and it was a modest little place as I recall. They wanted a poster for their upcoming season that showed a clown, a showgirl and an elephant. The pay wasn't much but it was an interesting job so I took it. Pictured above is the ad art for it. Directly above it is the one of the posters I made for them. I'm not particularly proud of the work but it was good at the time and I learned a lot from working on them. Somewhere in this house id the second poster and if I find it you'll see it or maybe not. It's nothing to write home about either.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photo Finish

This will be a short entry. I've got a nasty cold so I'll be tipping back a bottle of generic Nyquil soon. Above is my headshot I was tinkering with earlier this month. I turned it in with what was probably the longest application I've filled out since Clown College for my job as Doc Edwards. I'll either be donning Doc's khakis in the new year or I'll be taking your order at the drive thru window. Wish me luck. Night, night everybody.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Circus Tis of Thee...

Myself and Baby Pammy before we going on to perform "Puttin Baby to Bed" gag in 2001 for the 131st Edition of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Baby Pammy having fun at "Daddy's" expense in our "Puttin' Baby to Bed" gag.

Pammy and I, after a great deal of effort finally got to work a gag together in 2001. Before we left for the circus we hoped to work together in a gag but things didn't go our way in Winter Quarters. From that point on it was our goal to write a gag for ourselves to perform by the time we played Madison Square Garden. We bought this old metal hospital crib and painted it yellow then we bought a bunch of stuffed animals. We rehearsed in our spare time until we felt the gag was ready. We had a pretty good ring gag that could easily be longer if need be. The show's director was in New York to look over the show for our official premiere so we jumped at the first chance to audition it for him. He liked it and from then on it was fun time for Al and Pammy in the pre-show.

Writing that gag, then finding the crib and transporting it back to the arena would have been near impossible were it not for a friend, Teresa Barlowe, a former dancer and at that time purchasing agent for the red unit. She drove the crib back in her truck and things worked out. In the circus we helped each other as much as possible.

I remember working on my pratfalls between shows my first time with the circus. One evening a Russian man whose daughter was an aerialist on the show came over to the ring where I was working. He stood watching me work for a few minutes then stepped into the ring to teach me some pointers. I haven't mentioned that up to that point I had never said anything other than hello to him. I was a bit shy around the other cast members outside of the alley at the time. Oh and did I mention he spoke no English? He used gestures and demonstrated when gestures weren't enough. He did this all without any prompting from myself. When he looked at me he didn't see an American or a Mexican American. I could have been from Mars for all he cared. To him I was simply a circus performer that needed help. That's "circus"!

Circus can bring out the best in people and make you want to push the envelope.The circus is also like it's own country. It is diverse in it's population and offers many opportunities for growth and advancement based on one's abilities.This country could learn a great deal from the circus community. "Puttin' Baby to Bed" was a big leap of faith for Pammy and I because we were a couple of clowns without a whole lot of clout but we knew we had to try. We've got the crib in storage and we'll soon refurbish it for use once again before too long. Thank you Circus.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Se Habla Espanol

When I was on the road with Ringling Brothers public relation via t.v., radio or print media was a part of the job for all the performers especially the clowns. But if we were in a market that had a large Latino population I could figure to be very busy with p.r. s. Because we were clowns the interviews were generally light fluff but they were always fun especially for the Spanish speaking community because they have a great love for circus and for the broad physical comedy of circus clowns. In the Latino p.r.s they would sometimes give you free reign to do almost anything and give you plenty of time to do it too. In other markets the clowns might get some interview time but on many occasions were there simply as background color. There was a noticeable difference in the way each group viewed clowning. It's interesting to note the contrasting ways two cultures relate to clowning.

When I was growing up I enjoyed the plethora of comedy programs on the Mexican stations not to mention the brilliant film comedy of Cantiflas, Resortes and Tin Tan to name a few. There were many variety shows on the American stations as well that featured broad physical humor such as the Carol Burnett Show and Laugh In. In film you still had many of the comedians who had started their careers in vaudeville and burlesque but as the sixties and seventies gave way to the eighties there were fewer and fewer shows and films that favored physical comedy. The trend was more toward verbal humor. There were exceptions along the way. Saturday Night Live, Three's Company, Third Rock from the Sun, Seinfeld, and in film there were spoofs like the Airplane series, Naked Gun and the wonderfully cartoon-ish Jim Carrey. Few and far between, I say! The Simpsons, though fine masters of physical comedy, don't count because they are cartoons.

In recent years there has been an attempt to add more physical comedy into film and t.v. inspired mostly , I think, by the box office success of Jim Carrey but not necessarily for the love of slapstick. There have been quite a few "spoof" movies in the last few years and the comedy has been laughable but in the wrong way. Some of the current mainstream comedy stars who dabble in physical comedy often rely on cheap bits like wedgies, running into walls or glass doors, attack costumed animal characters or are attacked by a variety of small, furry animals who, nine times out of ten, go for the groin. And often their humor is mean spirited in nature.

I could go on but my point is that through the passing years physical comedy never waned in the Latin American world. Tune in to most any hispanic t.v. station and your bound to find plenty of physical comedy on any given day. Comedy styles like most anything else is cyclical. Perhaps in a few years there will be another Golden Age of Comedy here to rival the last century's. If the population growth of Hispanics in this country continues on it's upward trend perhaps that coming Golden Age will have to be referred to as "La Epoca Dorada de Comedia". Buenas noches, amigos.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Viva Zapata

Emiliano Zapata. August 8, 1879 - April 10, 1919. Hero of the Mexican Revolution.

I've decided on Emiliano Zapata as the subject of my painting for the November 13th art show at the Gallista gallery. I drew the sketch of Zapata, above, as a study in order to familiarize myself with his features. The actual painting will be quite different. There will be more of these studies and thumbnail sketches made and I'll post them too. Below is a link to some info on Zapata from Wikipedia.
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