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Sideshow: Larger-than-life exhibition of circus banner art

Twenty-one paintings are featured in "Sideshow", an exhibition that highlights a traditional piece of Americana - circus sideshow banners. The work of legendary banner painters Fred Johnson, Snap Wyatt, Jack Cripe, Jack Sigler and Johnny Meah are included in this colorful and dynamic show.

"Sideshow" celebrates not only the paintings and the artists who created them, but also, the period of time when, before television and computers were mainstream, people came together to gaze with wonder on worlds so different from their own.

The circus sideshow phenomenon is a nostalgic piece of American history, and the banners played an integral role in attracting visitors to participatory pre-show activities. Along with our exhibition will be several auxiliary events, including a talk by one of the last living banner painters, Johnny Meah. On Fridays at noon, during the month of September, we will feature performances by students from the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre and Dance and School of Music. Event details will be posted on the gallery website at


In recognition of this precious piece of United States and Florida history, the University Gallery is exhibiting the majority of a collection assembled by Howard and Robin Marks. They began collecting banner paintings in the mid-90s when Mr. Marks encountered Queen of Tattoo and Punch and Judy at an auction in Tampa. Owners of Gallery on First in Sanford, Florida, and collectors of American self-taught and folk art, the Markses were immediately drawn to the style and subject matter of the banners and began a search for similar paintings. Their collection contains ranges from traditional banners created by widely recognized painters like Fred Johnson and Snap Wyatt, to much smaller, contemporary pieces made by commercial artists as homage to the vanishing art and specifically for the purpose of display in homes and galleries.



August 24 - September 24, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2:00 p.m. - Public Lecture, at the University Gallery, Johnny Meah, Sideshow Banner Artist and Circus Performer. "A Lifetime of Circus Sideshow Art : A Trip Behind the Bigtop with Banner Artist, Johnny Meah"

Friday, August 27, 7-9 p.m. - Public Reception


**Several banners are currently on preview at Focus Gallery**


University Gallery Hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 - 5:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 - 4:00 pm
Located at the intersection of SW 13th Street and 4th Avenue

Visitor parking is available in the reserved spaces behind Fine Arts Building "C" on Inner Road. Visitor permits are issued to gallery visitors at the University Gallery. Reserved parking for the galleries during receptions is available at Tigert Hall, just north of the University Gallery on SW 13th Street.

For more information please contact the University Gallery, 352-273-3000 or visit our website at

Upcomming Events:

"Most Serene Republics"
Oct. 5 - Nov. 19, 2010
Friday, Oct. 1, 6-7 p.m. - Members' Preview
Friday, Oct. 1, 7-9 p.m. - Reception

William King & Connie Fox
Jan. 5 - Feb. 11, 2011
Friday, Jan. 7, 6-7 p.m. - Members' Preview
Friday, Jan. 7, 7-9 p.m. - Reception

SA+AH Student Juried Show
Feb. 22 - Mar. 4, 2011
Friday, Feb. 18, 7-9 p.m. - Reception

MFA Thesis Exhibition I
Mar. 22 - Apr. 1, 2011
Friday, Mar. 18, 7-9 p.m. - Reception

MFA Thesis Exhibition II
Apr. 12 - Apr. 22, 2011
Friday, Apr. 8, 7-9 p.m. - Reception

"Bearded Lady", Fred Johnson, Oil on canvas, c. 1940s


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