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Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

Roller derby league Angel City Derby Girls went bigger and bolder on Saturday night for its fifth annual Eat Your Art Out fundraiser. This year, the group took over Titmouse's Hollywood animation studio for a carnival-themed bash filled with bearded ladies, cotton candy and lots of art, all of which was donated for a silent auction.

The carnivals of the early 20th century were the source of inspiration for the event. Most of the work up for auction reflected traveling forms of entertainment, from the carnival to the circus. But there were a variety of styles on display, works that explored the darker side of traveling entertainment. There was emphasis on creating eerie moods and mysterious characters. Check out six of the most unsettling works after the jump.

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

6. Punch by Josh Taylor

The classic Punch and Judy puppet show was a popular form of entertainment during the Victorian age, with much of its comedy relying on the interaction between characters. In his piece Punch, artist Josh Taylor lets the lead character fly solo. In his small theater, Punch appears grinning, ready for a new series of antics. But without anyone to be on the receiving end of his tomfoolery, there's a certain sense of loneliness to the scene.

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

5. The Elephant Woman by Dave Crosland

Dave Crosland took a literal, and gender-bent, approach to the acclaimed 1980 film The Elephant Man, based on the true story of Joseph Merrick. In The Elephant Woman, Crosland uses the film's famous quote "I am not an animal" to set a scene filled with isolation and longing.

 

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

4. Owls, by Christine Larsen

In the early 20th century, there actually was a performer called The Human Owl. His name was Martin Laurello and he had the rare ability to make a 180-degree turn with his head. Christine Larsen's piece Owls seems to bear no resemblance to this bit of sideshow lore. Instead, she uses owls to create a haunting illustration that pulls the viewer into the possible mysteries surrounding this woman.

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

3. Misfortune by Todd Spence

The life of a traveling entertainer is certainly not glamorous -- Todd Spence's piece captures the drama that unfolds after the audience leaves. Something terrible appears to be happening inside the lit tent, though what that is can only be left to the imagination of the viewer. I thought of Tod Browning's film Freaks when I first saw this.

 

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

2. Tweetle Dee and Tweetle Dumb -- Petrified Siamese Dunny Skeleton by Sket One

Taking a cue from old-fashioned curiosity shops, and with a nod to Lewis Carroll, Sket One imagines conjoined Dunny toys and presents their remains. I can only imagine that this piece could frighten children and, due to the similar names, possibly ruin Tweedledee and Tweedledum for them. When I noticed the bite mark in the mirror, I was scared a little. (It is a cool reference to the show's title, however.)

Six Unsettling Images of Vintage Carnivals at Eat Your Art Out V
Shannon Cottrell

1. Cobweb Candy by Dan Harding

Dan Harding's work frequently uses horror motifs, so it's not surprising that he produced the creepiest piece at Eat Your Art Out. If you've never feared clowns before, Harding's weathered character with the high-arched eyebrows might change that. The "cobweb candy" itself is enough to think twice about that trip to the concession stand.

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