The Circus Is in Town

It’s a little bit vaudevillian and a little bit Halloween, but one thing’s for certain: Carnivalesque, a new group show opening at the Niza Knoll Gallery, 915 Santa Fe Drive, will fill viewers with a little bit of nostalgia, a little bit of joy, and then, well, something darker. Clowns, Ferris wheels and tattooed ladies all figure into the tapestry of this show, the brainchild of Denver clay artist Penney Bidwell, who’s lately been exploring her own carny ancestry.

“I only recently outed myself as a carny,” Bidwell admits, “but I was born on the carnival. My mother was a ballet dancer — she even danced with Balanchine — until she decided to leave that life behind to join a traveling carnival. She met my father, who was a third-generation carny.” Bidwell’s reconnection with her past now directs her recent work, but the overall show, which includes works by gallery owner Knoll, Kathy Beekman, Matt Doubek, Sam Mobley, Claudia Roulier and Dave Seiler, follows the carnival theme in myriad ways.

Though Carnivalesque opens today, you’ll have to wait for the October 21 artist reception, which comes with benefits: Bidwell hopes to have a party that night with performers and a big-top atmosphere. And on October 29, the exhibition’s closing date, the gallery will see the show off with a well-scheduled carnival masquerade party. For more information, visit or call 303-953-1789.
Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Sept. 24. Continues through Oct. 29, 2011

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd