Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paradise Circus – The Steeple & Banners

The Paradise Circus is a mash-up of confession booth, cathedral steeple and circus tent. At least, that's my intention. The structure is designed so that the roof is very tall, resembling a church steeple but with all the eye-catching merriment of a circus or carnival. The steeple exteriors are mostly complete as I write this. 

Attached to the peak of the steeple will be canvas banners with images advertising more of the make-believe circus acts. My favorites so far: "The Four Horsemen – Together! See them leap the Burning Bush" and "Heretics Burned Daily!" 

Original rendering

Near-completed steeple images

Follow along with me and the team for the next 50 days by bookmarking this blog or following us on Facebook as we produce this project right up to opening night. And please join us at the Los Angeles Convention Center January 14-18 to see and experience the completed Circus.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paradise Circus – Blessed Circus Posters

The loudest, most fun and colorful part of the Paradise Circus installation are the posters covering the exterior. Circus acts including Jezebel the Holy Cow, Karmi the Hirsute Hindoo and Jinn and her 72 Flying Virgins are advertised from the walls. 

The themes are an irreverent poke at traditional mythology. I created the make-believe concepts using inspirations from Paradise Lostthe Book of Revelations, Richard Dawkins, Taschen's large tomes The Circus and Magic, the art of Danté, Hieronymus Bosch, early 20th century poster art, and as always, Dr. Seuss.

As I write this, the exterior art designs are mostly complete. I just printed the first panel at full size onto the wallpaper material, more to print soon.

"Angels, Angels, Angels. Watch a multitude of Heavenly Host all Dance on the Head of a Pin. How do they do it?Featuring the Four Choirs of Angels arrayed in all nine orders.Try to Count them all!"

"See the Son of the Devil and his Dip of Death.'Better to Reign in Hell than to Serve in Heaven.'He's Fireproof!" 

"You deserve to see The Amazing Jinn and her 72 Flying Virgins"
"Direct from the OrientKarmi the Hirsuite Hindoo and his Amazing Act of Reincarnation.'There's Always Another Chance'."

"Alive! Often Mentioned but Rarely SeenJezebelle the Holy Cow.A Blessed Bovine of Prodigious Proportion.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Paradise Circus, Los Angeles 2015 – follow the progress

On January 14th I'll present my first ever, three-dimensional installation at the LA Art Show. My particular style of jewelry-inspired 2-D compositions will clad all the sides of a 16' tall, sheet metal and canvas structure that I've designed. The project is titled The Paradise Circus, Los Angeles 2015.

Paradise Circus structure sketch
The Circus, as I proposed it last summer, is a physical and conceptual mash-up of confession booth, cathedral steeple and big top tent. 

The exterior of the structure will be covered with circus posters announcing religious-themed acts, presenting canonical mythology as entertainment spectacle. It's a lighthearted lampoon of traditional orthodoxies and a comparison of doctrinal storytelling with carnival merriment.

The interior of The Circus will be darker, featuring symbols, characters and runes of unknown origin in a foreboding environment. A large, imposing face greets you at the entrance (could that be St. Peter, Ridwan, Uriel or Charon?) and a traditional church kneeler invites you to make obeisance and push open the slider to reveal...a small glimpse of Paradise.

It is said that the role of the artist is to reveal unseen truths. I am creating this work, and all the work in this ongoing series, because I often wonder about what lies beyond this mortal life. I question the veracity of those who claim to know, and challenge the authority of monolithic institutions that spin stories and perpetuate myths for purposes of social control and political gain.

Follow along with me and the team for the next 62 days by bookmarking this blog or following us on Facebook as we produce this project right up to opening night. And please join us at the Los Angeles Convention Center January 14-18 to see and experience the completed Circus.


X-ray view of structure with kneeler and Paradise cyclorama
Completed interior Panel detail

Booth entrance sketch with kneeler

Completed exterior side panel poster

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Paradise Circus is coming to town

I have the immense pleasure of following J.T. Burke on the organization, construction and installation of his newest project, "The Paradise Circus, Los Angeles 2015." This ambitious, large-scale installation – his first serious effort at a three-dimensional artwork – will be the center of attention at the upcoming LA Art Show January 14-18, 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Paradise Circus was conceived more than 2 years ago and had its first appearance as a solo show in 2013 at the LA Art Association's Gallery 825 in West Hollywood, California.  J.T. talked about the project last year:

The series playfully rejects canonical notions of heaven and hell, meaning that perhaps Sister Mary Joseph, my first grade teacher, might not have had any better insight about the hereafter than I did when she warned of the dangers of eternal damnation and hellfire.

Images from Paradise Circus series, 2013

When I first met with J.T. Burke and his wife, artist Lorraine Triolo, in their studio last month I was  blown away by the sumptuous and impassioned work. I can't reveal too much about the project just yet, but I will say that you'll be mesmerized by the spectacle involving the sacred and the silly, and by the mashed-up notions of carnival and cathedral. You may want to confess your sins to the art world, and do it with cotton candy in your hand.

JT explained that Peter Mays, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Art Association, was the catalyst for this project. "Peter has been a friend and supporter of my work for some time, and he motivated me to move from comfortable 2D wall art to 3D installation. I had hung a large mural in an office lobby earlier this year, but it was his suggestion to 'just go crazy', as he likes to say, that gave me the confidence to propose this project."

And then there's the soundtrack. Composed by J.T.'s friend and fellow South Pasadena resident Mocean Worker, the Soundtrack to Paradise currently has the working title "Angus Dei Tuvan Bali Calliope." It sounds just like that. More about the music and J.T.'s collaboration with Mocean Worker to come. 

Follow J.T.'s blog for more on The Paradise Circus, Los Angeles 2015 and information on the LA Art Show. You can also find us on Facebook where we will post regular updates of the construction process.

-Kristine Schomaker

J.T. Burke with publicist Kristine Schomaker and first prototype of the Circus steeple.