Posts Tagged ‘Riverview Park’

World's Strangest Girls

Vintage Sideshow Banner for World’s Strangest Girls. Photo Courtesy of JMW Auction Gallery, High Falls, NY

Our favorite genre of word banner is on the auction block. World’s Strangest Girls! The sideshow banner asks the customary questions: “Why WERE THEY BORN? CAN they LEAD NORMAL lives? HAVE CHILDREN? HAVE NORMAL HUSBANDS? SEE & TALK TO THEM.”

We first came across the World’s Strangest Girls in the seminal 1997 book Freaks, Geeks and Strange Girls: Sideshow Banners of the Great American Midway. A splendid cavalcade banner by Snap Wyatt from the ’60s depicted an all-girl freak show–sword swallower, fire eater, tattooed lady, dancing midget, frog girl, alligator-skinned woman, and freakiest of all, a woman with tree roots instead of hands and feet.

Jay Werbalowsky of JMW Auction Gallery tells ATZ the unsigned word banner is from the collection of well-known gallerist Phyllis Kind, who closed her SoHo gallery and retired in 2009. Kind’s first gallery opened in Chicago in 1967, where she showed the work of Roger Brown, Ed Paschke and other artists who came to be known as the Chicago Imagists.

When we interviewed Paschke in the late ’90s for an essay about the influence of sideshow banners on the art world, he recalled fellow artists buying banners at the auction of Riverview Park and introducing them to him as well as to Kind. Friends presented Paschke with a banner of Siamese twins, which he had to fold in half to display on the walls of his studio. “I’ve always liked that kind of larger-than- life, over-the-top feeling,” the artist told us. “A heightened sense of reality is I guess the term I would use.”

The World’s Strangest Girls word banner is large enough–9′ 8″ x 11′ 5″– for a loft with 12 foot ceilings or a spacious lobby. Or perhaps you’d like to frame a Strange Girls show of your own and take it on the road? The sale is on May 19 at JMW Auction Gallery in the Hudson Valley town of High Falls, New York. Live bidding on the item is available on liveauctioneers.com


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