What a high! It came couple nights ago, PDF of the interior design work in "draft" form (I call it page proofs), for my new book, Inside the Changing Circus: A Critic's Guide, due out next January. Love the strong chapter headings and how the photos, a load of 77, are prominently featured.
Camera masters: I'm happy to have on my side some true shutter stars: Big Apple Circus's Bertrand Guay, who works for Agence France-Presse and photographs circuses all over Europe;" Ted Sato, Big Show photographer during Ringling's' last glory years under canvas; another late great, Sverre Braathen, the attorney-circus fan who snapped wonderful images in Kodachrome of Ringling, and whose work resides at the Milner in ISU. In my book, Braathen's images appear in black and white and yet, sometimes the conversion brings out greater clarity on the faces, which flatters Ben Davenport and daughter Norma, and a very young star who made a one-year cameo on Ringling in 1953 ...
Mister Mistin's day in the sun: Touted to be only 5-years old when he played the xylophone for Ringling, this perky showman sports a pistol on a float in the Candyland spec. The kid's face is full of attitude.
Among others I'm happy to be giving attention to:
Louis Stern: An atypically happy image of this shamefully overlooked giant, from Tegge Circus Archives, on his feet and warmly smiling, his arms outstretched, with Valerie Antalek. He deserved to feel good about himself.
Under the Big Show big top, 1924, during spec. A great image by Charles Clark, the "white" canvas is so dirty and streaked, I can almost feel a warm damp heat in there, it feels so real. I envy everybody who got to see that show!
Ted Sato: One of his which he gave me is of the big top blossoming, surrounded by towners looking on and elephants grazing (do they graze?). A beaut.
The World of Today: Bertrand Guay's work captures the dazzling innovations that mark many of the acts that land on Big Apple Circus.
And so many more. Estelle Butler riding Roman style at the Garden ... Cliff Vargas looking handsomer than you can probably imagine, cropped out (my doing) from other owners, he getting rare placement with a few other passionate producers ... The Logan elephants under the old Al. G. Kelly and Miller Bros. tent ... wry Russian animal turns -- one a cow and a monkey appearing to be playing, well what, ground soccer? ... Asian wizards from Shanhai to Big Apple ... Leitzel and Agee in the backyard ... a young Mistilav Zapasnhy topping a family pyarmid on a trio of horses, his face aglow with the confidence of a benign god ... Tension between Art and Antoinette Concello in the backyard with Eddie Ward, Jr., staying wisely removed ... Griebling and Karandash ... and, yes, Grandma!
On and on and on, those are just a tease of the photography that reflects the ever-changing circus, going back to Circus Maximus, forward to Cirque du Soliel ... Page proofs are a safe thrill, before the thing rolls off the press and gets looked at by strange impartial eyes. But what an update in publishing. So far, only two things have moved between me and BearManor Media in snail mail: the contract and a flash drive of the images to a guy in New York state, Brian, who is designing the book with exemplary flair.