Cartoon Madness IV: Circus presents three-ring art show (1)
Evil clowns famously fuel kiddie nightmares, just as sad clown paintings on black velvet inevitably trouble the dreams of art critics.
Alcove Gallery owner H.C. Warner genuinely loves the greasepaint and sawdust, however, and the word “trapeze” even figures in his e-mail address. For his birthday every February, the Decatur-based artist goes to the circus. “The circus usually comes through town in February, and Im big on celebrating my birthday. Im big on looking through the innocent eyes of a child. At the circus, youre back, eating popcorn and cotton candy, and you kind of let go of your worries.”
Warner doesnt really care about nouveau spectaculars like Cirque du Soleil. Hes more of a Barnum & Bailey purist who prefers the traditional three-ring presentation, from animal acts to sideshow performers. “If we have a fire-breather, we have to have a guy on stilts. Its like a good casserole — it has to have all the ingredients.” He doesnt play favorites, but admits, “I do like the elephants.”
A disappointing recent experience under the big top inspired Alcove Gallerys Cartoon Madness IV: Circus. Its Alcoves fourth annual show in a series that emphasizes local artists, frequently ones who work with Atlantas Cartoon Network, and who take on subjects that provoke childhood flashbacks. “I had a sour taste in my mouth from the last time I went to the circus. I knew the PETA animal rights thing caused the circus to flatten out a bit, and there should be no abuse of any animal or human. But even down to the clowns, the circus has gotten very formatted and generic. What happened? It just wasnt the same. So I thought of putting on our own circus.