Sideshow Alley

“Sideshow Alley” drawn with coloured pencils and Sennelier oil pastels.
213 x 230 mm. May 2017

Boulevard de Clichy in Pigalle is a busy strip of peep shows, sex shops, clubs and bars.  In search of bright lights as well as photos of Moulin Rouge, I went there one evening last October.

I have always had a fascination for fairgrounds – the scariness of them.  Pigalle with its neon kaleidoscope and promises of thrills is just like a fairground – a tawdry extravaganza of colour, people and noise.  By day it is simply sad but at night it bursts into showy splendor.  (Day or night you need to watch your back.)

A few months back I did a drawing of Moulin Rouge which I called “Show Time” also from this particular visit.  The two drawings make a good pair.

“Show Time”
November 2016

“Sideshow Alley”
May 2017

“Sideshow Alley” is an overcoat of coloured pencils – worked into an undercoat of Sennelier oil pastels.

8 thoughts on “Sideshow Alley

  1. anna warren portfolio

    The bright, almost neon colours you have chosen for this image sum up that fairground garishness, but with a level of sophistication that no fairground can achieve. I have the same feeling as you about fairgrounds, enjoyment of the colour, the noise, the sense of debauchery, but I like to be just an observer too, not a participant. Those areas of a city that capture that same feeling are exhilarating and a little repellent at the same time. Using the oil pastels as an underpainting is really working, it gives so much depth and a lusciousness to the colour.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I kind of felt I needed to state in my blog that I wasn’t a participant (!!) but I didn’t. So I’m saying it here in my reply to you. I was only there for the lights. Promise.
      I’m glad you like creepy fairgrounds too, Anna.

  2. Sherry Telle

    You already know I LOVE both of these. The feel of being there, out of focus, gives the impression of being an observer, not really part of the scene, not really there. We have the Calgary Stampede here, it is world famous and the amusement park that goes with it is bright and colourful and the mix of people you find there is a treasure trove of people watching opportunities. The park sits between two rivers in a valley, from Scotsman’s hill you can look down onto the midway from a distance while being close enough to hear the noises, smell the carnival food and see the lights. We used to go there to watch the fireworks when the kids were small, and taking in the atmosphere while waiting for them to start was my favourite part.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Sherry. I do love different words we use for the same things. I only learned about the term “midway” yesterday when looking up the term “sideshow alley” on google. I saw that “sideshow alley” is actually an Australian term for what you in USA and Canada call “midway”. I wondered then, should I even USE an Australian term for this drawing, but I figured everybody knows Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons so people outside of Australia should be able to figure out what I mean.
      Thanks for your evocative comments. I can truly picture you up on Scotsman’s Hill, looking down at the carnival. What a great description!

  3. fuzzydragons

    very bright and colourful 🙂

    midways to me are usually traveling ride events, in town for a short time or areas at fairs where there are games where you waste a lot of money trying to get a 2 dollar toy lol.sideshows reminds me of a circus, with the big tents and clowns and animals, which that area could def be called sometimes

  4. Robyn Varpins

    You have beautifully purified it by reducing it to it’s luminous elements.It has moved away from the mundane toward the spiritual. It is a joy.


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