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SHEPARD AND WATSON

 CIRCUS  SIDESHOW

all in a meticulously crafted 1/12-scale sideshow diorama!

 

As evidenced by the nearly two years spent working on his complex miniature sideshow, Gordon Shepard (1930 – 2011) was fascinated with the circus and all its facets. His interest began after he left an institution in 1958, where he stayed for ten years. This difficult experience inspired Shepard to seek out things that brought him joy, with the circus being his main focus and, a short while later, Shepard started working his way up the circus ranks, eventually beginning a clowning career as “Gordy the Clown.”

 

In 1992, Shepard started working as an artist at Creativity Explored, a San Francisco based non-profit visual arts center where more than 130 artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell art. He began work on the diorama in 2000, carefully collecting the various components of the intricate composition.

This original artwork is featured in an exhibition, Sideshow, currently on view at Creativity Explored Gallery in San Francisco and was also exhibited in the popular exhibition Don’t Call Me Retard in 2002, and again in 2004 at the Jewett Gallery in San Francisco.

In 2004, Shepard and his diorama were featured in a four-page spread in Little Circus Wagon, the official publication of Circus Model Builders International and, in 2007, it appeared in a documentary about Shepard’s life, entitled CLOWN.

Born in New York City in 1930, Gordon Shepard was raised in an artistic family. He performed and made visual art his entire life. Shepard’s father, Otis Shepard, was a well-known commercial artist and art director of the Wrigley Company for thirty years. Shepard worked at Creativity Explored’s second studio from 2000 until his death in December 2011.

 

Shepard created exclusively representational drawings and paintings, using acutely accurate perspective and shading, and saturated colors. From acrobats to clowns to striped tents, the common theme running through all of his artwork is the circus. Shepard was once a clown in Big John Strong & Sons Circus and he loved to reminisce about his days as a performer. When he wasn't talking about clowns, Shepard visually explored the theme in all manner of media. In 2002, he created a sculptural rendition of a circus sideshow, meticulously executed on 1:12 scale, taking him nearly two years to complete. 









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