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Spotlight on Circus: Charlotte Shive

Spotlight on Circus: Charlotte Shive

Spotlight on Circus collections share curatorial insights about connections between objects in the Circus collection and their significance to the history of the circus and allied arts.

So many of the objects in the Circus Collections have special resonance because they not only represent a specific event or moment in circus history but because they also can signify the stories of individuals and their relationship with the circus community.

When I selected the jug of bronze powder for the checklist it was due in large part to the number of different stories it could represent. The glass jug, filled with a golden colored powder, was brought to the Museum by Larry Kellogg, a longtime volunteer and a retired promotor who worked with the Ringling Show. Through his work, Larry befriended a retired circus performer named Charlotte Shive. Charlotte performed as an aerialist and part of a troupe that posed as human statues with Ringling bros. and Barnum & Bailey in the 1920s and 1930s. This jug is filled with the makeup that she used to prepare for the statue act. She entrusted the jug to Larry and now it is safely housed at the museum.

The bucket, which was used by Art Concello, also came through Charlotte Shive. Her husband had been good friends with Concello and saved the bucket. Arthur Concello made his name as a talented performer on the flying trapeze, appearing with Ringling in the 1930s and 1940s. He went on to become an innovator, helping John Ringling North streamline the movements of the tented circus.

In the Howard Bros. Circus Model, a miniature water bucket with the name C. Shive can be spotted near the front of the women’s half of the dressing tent.

You can read more about Charlotte Shive in articles written by Larry Kellogg at:
Fascinating Story Behind Antique Sunburst Circus Wagon Wheel
and
The Circus Fraternity: My Friend Charlotte and the Ubangis