Sideshow: Art of the Handcar Regatta

March 4 through Sunday, April 4, 2010.

As the exhibition title implies, Sideshow was inspired by The Great West End & Railroad Square Handcar Regatta & Exposition of Mechanical & Artistic Wonders—known by most simply as the Handcar Regatta—an annual event that has taken place in Santa Rosa in late September the previous two years. According to the Regatta’s resident—and somewhat mysterious—“certifiable genius,” Erasmus P. Kitty, the event “represents a public celebration of Mechanical, Visual, Culinary, and Costumed Performing Arts combined with an inclusive concept of Community Participation and Human Ingenuity embracing sustainability, alternative transportation, and good old fashioned fun.”

Although the Regatta’s stated intention is to operate “beyond the insulated galleries, studios, and museums,” one of the ideas behind Sideshow was to reverse this concept. The exhibition takes some of the wonderfully crafted handcars, costumes, banners, paintings, sculptures, and general ephemera from the event and isolates them within the confines of the University Art Gallery’s “white cube,” giving viewers the opportunity to view these objects as works of art beyond their function within the spectacle that is the Handcar Regatta. In addition to the objects viewed by many this past September, the exhibition also includes several works by Regatta artists not seen at the event.

In keeping with the spirit of the Handcar Regatta, Sideshow includes several works, such as C.D. Payne’s remarkable traveling Eyelusion museum and Todd Barricklow’s imposing Steam Pedal along with roving performers and other “wonders” worthy of a circus sideshow, that were seen only at the opening reception on Thursday, March 4t. Beyond Barricklow and Payne, participating artists include Lisa Beerntsen, David Farish, Andy Graham, Theresa Hughes, Muir Houghton, Krank-Boom-Clank, Freya Marcelis, Gene McClelland, Tony Speirs, and more artists to be announced. And in further keeping with the Regatta’s philosophy of “community participation and interaction”, Sideshow has been a collaboration between all of the participants, spearheaded by the Art Gallery’s staff of Michael Schwager, Director, and Carla Stone, Exhibitions Coordinator, as well as Spring Maxfield, one of the co-founders and guiding lights of the Regatta.