Circus-themed art exhibit opens Jan. 9 at Hoboken Historical Museum

To highlight its current Main Gallery exhibit “The Avenue: A History of Washington Street” and to bring attention to the prestigious circus school that operated there in the late 1970’s, the Hoboken Historical Museum has announced its next Upper Gallery exhibit: “CIRCUS LIVES: Hovering Above, Balancing Below” by painter Karen E. Gersch.

The multi-media, family-friendly exhibit by celebrated circus artist Gersch opens Sunday, Jan. 9 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

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The Hoboken Historical Museum is located at 1301 Hudson Street. It is open from 2 – 7 on Tuesday-Thursday, 1 – 5 on Friday and 12 – 5 on weekends. Admission is $5, free for Children and members. Call 201 656 2240.

Gersch is also an accomplished circus acrobat and teacher. On the opening day, Sunday, Jan. 9 at 3:30, she will give a slideshow/talk about the Circus Arts Center that existed at 412 Washington. Gersch trained there as an acrobatic base or “understander,” and spent 30 years “running around rings and stages with a woman on her head.” She will be joined by many of her colleagues from those days and images of their acts will be shown.

Artist and acrobat Gersch’s presentation is an exceptional opportunity to learn more about this unique, world-class circus arts school that is part of Hoboken’s fascinating history, and is well-represented in the museum’s current Main Gallery’s exhibit, “The Avenue: A History of Washington Street.”

For decades, when Gersch traveled with three-ring shows throughout the country and one-ring shows in Europe, her art materials were her constant companion. By day, she practiced and performed, by night she sketched and painted. Several pastels and line drawings from life on the road are included in the exhibition.

The School, established and run by Nina Krasavina and Gregory Fedin, provided most of the acts that composed the first few years of the Big Apple Circus and oversaw the training of two dozen students who went on to professional careers. Gersch has captured portraits of her Russian teachers, as well as scenics from her decades touring with shows. She works in a multitude of mediums and is in private collections around the world.

Highlights of her exhibition history include having had several works in “Dusty Glory: The Circus in American Art” at the Cahoon Museum of American Art, alongside legendary circus artists Chaim Gross, Walt Kuhn and Reginald Marsh. In 2017, ten of her paintings were chosen to be part of the Smithsonian’s FolkLife Festival: “Circus on the Move” in the Arts and Industry Museum.

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