“Daddy, Can we get a balloon?” – A painting inspired by the “Immel Circus” at the Massillon Museum

Circus Art Painting Balloon Vendor by BZTAT
Painting by BZTAT

As a Teaching Artist for the Massillon Museum, I was invited to participate in the exhibition “Conversations with Our Collection”.  For the exhibit, artists who are on staff with the museum were asked to create artworks inspired by items in the museum’s collection. I chose the “Immel Circus” as my inspiration.

According to the museum’s website, the “Immel Circus” is a “100-square foot miniature circus [that] contains 2,620 pieces: thirty-six elephants, 186 horses, 102 assorted animals, ninety-one wagons, seven tents, and 2,207 people. Most of the pieces were hand-carved by Dr. Robert Immel using tools from his dental practice. Some were handcrafted by friends and retired circus performers.” 

The Lilliputian sized model remains on permanent display on the second floor of the museum.

the "Immel Circus" at the Massillon Museum
The “Immel Circus”


The Immel Circus celebrates the exuberant pageantry and constant motion involved in a circus. It also celebrates the culture of those who bring the circus about in the greatest of detail. I chose to highlight what might seem to be an insignificant detail in the overall largeness of it all – a balloon seller in the grandstand.

As a child, my father took my brother and sister and me to the circus many times. I remember being enthralled with how there were so many things going on at the same time, and how everything seemed so magical. My perspective came from a seat in the grandstand, and my view was framed by the vendors in the stands who cried out to us to sell their wares.

the "Immel Circus" at the Massillon Museum
The “Immel Circus”

As much as I enjoyed the theatrical qualities of the circus as a child, I have been saddened to learn as an adult that the animals in circuses were often mistreated. I am glad that our respect for the quality of life for animals is evolving and that circuses are changing in our modern world. My hope is that future generations of children can enjoy the pageantry and magic of the circus without harm to exotic animals.

You can see the “Conversations with Our Collection” exhibit at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave NW in Canton, Ohio from August 12 – September 23, 2016.




Life is an Adventure!