The Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, NY is presenting the exhibition Circus Circus through October 16th featuring paintings of the American circus by artists from the 1920s and 1930s alongside circus-themed marketing materials used by the Beech-Nut Packaging Company in the 1930s.
The circus coming to town was a highly anticipated event in small towns across America, and many artists in the twenties and thirties painted the spectacle of the parade as the circus arrived, and the excitement under the big top. The exhibition includes paintings by Jon Corbino, Ogden Pleissner and Everett Shinn.
Images of circus cars, animals and acrobats were also used to market food products during the 1930s. The Beech-Nut Packing Company was one of the companies to use the excitement and nostalgia of the circus to sell its products. They created magazine ads with clowns and circus animals to sell their gum.
This circus-themed marketing campaign culminated in the creation of Beech-Nut miniature circuses that traveled across the country in busses, and a miniature circus was displayed in their pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
To tell us more about the exhibit we welcome Art Historian Karal Ann Marling and Museum Director and Curator Diane Forsberg.