Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Circus World Museum Hires, Finally, a Librarian ... Atwell Photos Coming to a Computer Near You ...

Date first posted is lost.  A guess:  2012

Baraboo is back in its own spotlight, touting the installation of Peter Shrake, previously with the Sauk County Historical Society, to head up the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center. He's got a two-for-one title, archivist and librarian.

It's about time, Circus World!

The news issued by Seve Freese, also revealing a second appointment, that of Baraboo business man and "circus enthusiast" Ralph D. Pierce , brought on board to undertake digitizing 1,377 glass plate negatives snapped by famed Harry Atwell, whose images were used by circus press agents of the era. Time line ranges from 1905-1930. An anonymous donation from a private donor is said to have funded these appointments.

Best of all, we will very soon be able to access Atwell's work on-line, as soon as "a month or so."

The goings on at this non-accredited museum can be puzzling, if not mystifying. Me wonders if Circus World fears being left in the dust as the Ringling Museum of Circus in Sarasota continues its empire building, and as the aggressively emerging Milner Libary at ISU in Bloomington makes a bigger mark on the world with its own formidable photo collection starring the superlative color work of Sverre Braathen. Plus, they've got a huge collection of books, more, says librarian Maureen Brunsdale, than her Sarasota rivals ...

Big Top Bits: How to return danger, or its illusion, to the big top: Cirque du Soleil hiring Canvasland Levin of New Zealand to produce a large cushion for emergency landings by aerialists during Japanese earthquakes. These modern pads, made of nylon, said to allow a performer to fall on front or back side, "in any position without risking injury." ... A Cirque high wire act had been grounded owing to high probability of afterwhocks. The advanced cushions were rushed out to Tokyo so the act could continue ... There is new promise here, that perhaps one day a circus will perform over a surface underpinned by such padding technology, thus allowing for the elimination of the unsightly and demeaning mechanics. Or maybe by then, some other inventor will have devised an invisible mechanic. OK with me. Just don't tell me when it's being used. I'll take a good illusion over a bad reality ... Water for Elephants, if I read the box office figures correctly, fading fast ... Circus Historical Society's Virtual Library adding scans by Robert Spivey, Hal Guyon, Jr., Judy Griffin, and Bob Cline ... The group's annual convention to spread sawdust over For Mitchell, Kentucky, June 6-11, during The Amazing American Circus Poster Exhibit in session at the Cincinnati Art Museum ... Here's a spiffy little top that gives off a breezy old canvas smile: Culpepper & Merriweather Circus's brand new blue and white beauty ... Carson and Barnes Circus this year celebrating its 75th anniversary on the road, John Ringling North II, his fifth ... That means, in Ringling time, he has three more years to get Kelly-Miller circus onto the rails ...

How geographically clever am I? At the moment of this posting I am on Am tracks, not that far from from Baraboo. Guess exactly where? See you up the rails, slow-speed fans ...

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