Make us your home page
Instagram

Rare circus photos come to Tampa Bay History Center

A marvelous show of circus photographs that debuted at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is coming to Tampa. So if you missed it in 2010, see it now. Or see it again at the Tampa Bay History Center beginning Saturday.

Frederick W. Glasier (1866-1950) created a remarkable body of work during the early 20th century when traveling circuses were in their heyday. His photographs were almost lost to history after the surviving glass plate negatives suffered years of neglect, even after the Ringling acquired 1,700 of them from a collector in 1963.

They were in bad shape, many broken, and suffered even more when the Ringling's basement flooded in the 1970s. After a 20-year conservation project, with a boost from grants and technology, all have been scanned and cataloged and we see 64 newly created prints from the group in this show.

Glasier was not only a fine documentarian but also had a gifted eye for composition. He was a self-taught photographer when it was still a nascent craft. He had studios in Massachusetts and probably made most of his living doing portraits of locals, but he was clearly captivated by the roving circuses that migrated to small towns across the country every summer. In a time before movies, the circus was the most popular form of collective entertainment. When it arrived, schools and businesses closed and the entire community turned out to watch it parade through the city in a grand progress to its campgrounds, where the circus staff and entertainers lived in tents and wagons.

Glasier recorded everything: the pandemonium of the circus' arrival, the raising of the big top tent and the myriad members of a circus, from cooks to daredevils. He was given access behind the scenes, and that intimacy produced relaxed, natural shots along with astonishing shots, for their time, of performers captured in stop-action photos.

Information from Times files was used in this report. Lennie Bennett can be reached at lbennett@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8293.

If you go

"Circus! The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier" opens Saturday at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa, and continues through Aug. 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.95 adults, $10.95 seniors and youths 13 to 17 and students with ID, and $7.95 kids 4 to 12. tampabayhistorycenter.org or (813) 228-0097.

Rare circus photos come to Tampa Bay History Center 05/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 3:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Innovocative Theatre company debuts with workmanlike production of 'Proof'

    Stage

    TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Catherine in Innovocative Theatre's first production, Proof, by David Auburn. Photo courtesy of Staci Sabarsky.
  2. Drink of the week: Yalumba Y Series Viognier, South Australia 2016

    Bars & Spirits

    I've long wondered why viognier isn't a more popular wine. With its seductive floral aromas and luscious fruit flavors, it's one of my favorite whites.

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 26

    Events

    The Rocket Summer: Bryce Avary embarks on a 10th anniversary tour of the multi-instrumentalist's album Do You Feel. 7 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Tampa. $16. (813) 241-8600; crowbarlive.com.

    Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer performs at Crowbar in Tampa on 7/26/17. Credit: Ben Zucker
  4. 21 fun places to escape the heat (or rain) and chill indoors in Tampa Bay

    Events

    A simple walk down the street this summer can feel like it takes years. With the humidity and the Florida sun blazing, no amount of time feels like enough to cool off in summer. To help you regulate, our critics and writers came up with a few places that encourage lingering for just ... a few ... more ... minutes.

  5. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)