For those who scroll the social media website Facebook, and some of the photos that are included in my articles, you will spot Jennifer Clarke’s impressive work. Clarke has been doing photography of artists that play throughout the city. She was been building her impressive portfolio for the past few years now, capturing fleeting moments during an artist or band’s live performances. When you are looking at the work that Clarke presents, you see moments that are pure.
You are witnessing a story that is unfolding before you very eyes. By looking at the photo that she seizes, you become a bystander. You see the whole landscape of that period of time. You feel the rhythm of the music without actually being there. You get the sense of jealously when you don’t witness that exact second of when that picture was taken. To many, it is a privilege and an honor to be snapped by Clarke.
Six months ago local photographer Jennifer Taylor Clarke was assigned the role of co-director of the yearly event known as Dayton Sideshow, alongside with musician Todd theFox. It will be the ninth installment this year for the Sideshow, a festival that has been increasing in popularity. Each chapter of the Sideshow that is assembled offers a new vision. A new theme each time. This year’s event centers around the nine muses of Greek mythology-Calliope (muse of epic poetry), Clio (the muse of history), Erato (muse of love poetry), Euterpe (muse of music), Melpomene (muse of tragedy), Polyhymnia (muse of sacred poetry), Terpsichore (muse of dance), Thalia (muse of comedy), Urania (muse of astronomy). “I thought that it was a fitting theme to this year, with the ninth installment, and the whole mythology”, Clarke explains.
The Sideshow began with a simple idea from Laurana Wong. Wong had a vision to organize an evening that brought people together to celebrate the local art being made and the artists that created it. The show would be free for the participants to submit their work, as well as the organizers that would set it up, and for the guests that appeared. Wong believed that by having this show take place, it would bring attention to the emerging arts scene in Dayton and give everyone a chance to connect with one another to their similar interests.
The first ever Sideshow event took place on June 24th, 2006 at what is now the Cannery. Sixty artists from all around the area had work that was showcased throughout the evening. In years following, events would be held at other venues, primarily to give other buildings and areas around town a chance to showcase themselves. Previous sites have included The Merc on Third Street, the old Unicorn Bar location at the corner of Third Street and Jefferson Avenue, and the Armory at the corner of 6th and Patterson. For the past couple of years, the Sideshow has found a permanent home at the Old Yellow Cab building, which is located on East 4th Street. For more than 40 years, the Yellow Cab was home to a taxi business that now has become an emerging community art space. A variety of events are held throughout the year. For the Sideshow, having their annual celebration at the Yellow Cab is the perfect location. The walls are littered with over 60-plus artists that display their incredible works of art. Clarke mentioned that she encouraged all the participants this year to fully use the history of the nine muses and try to incorporate them into this year’s work.
For those who haven’t experienced and/or haven’t been able to attend a Sideshow, you truly are missing out. The impressive array of artwork that is presented from the artists goes beyond anything that is imaginable. From sculptures to photography (including Clarke’s), the artwork that is shown is made from the people who don’t view making art inside the lines. They are visually stunning. Attendees are able to be part of the art through some of the presentations.
For music lovers, two stages are placed next to each other outside in the parking lot, located under a tent. There, you are able to take in local music. From a wide range of different music styles, everyone will be able to witness the amazing selection of bands and artists. Todd theFox has selected a blend of bands that play anything from folk/country to rap to electronic. Playing the Sideshow on either Friday or Saturday is a humbling and tremendous break for these music singers and bands. “We have seen a bump from bands that see success. We wanted some previous bands to perform this year, and weren’t able to.” This year will feature another stage inside the beginning that will feature sets from singer/songwriters in a more intimate setting. Also on the other stage, comedians will be slotted to do sets. The third stage was presented last year as an ‘open mic’ area. The stage was a huge hit, with crowds growing around the stage when folks performed. More than 40 bands and artists will play on the stages over the two days.
Another idea that was conceived and was put into place at last year’s event will be coming back this year. Kids Sideshow gave children the tools and supplies to be able to make some of their own artwork and are able to display it at the show also.
For Clarke, opportunities like co-organizing the Sideshow this year only has added to some amazing events that have come to her over the past year or two. On top of her work of snapping those amazing live shots of shows across the city, she also does some weddings and other special events. One of the most interesting ventures that she is working on is her first documentary. The doc is centered on local musician’s Tim Gebard softball team. The team is not your typical beer league team. The team is comprised of older gentlemen. The film will give viewers a look of men who are simply enjoying their twilight years through the game, along with the sense of brotherhood. Working on the project has given Clarke a beautiful look at this group of men, and the ability to hear some amazing stories. “These men are stronger and more vibrant than most at their same age”, Clarke says. “They don’t want to just sit around and become lethargic.” The documentary will be released sometime within the year or next. Clarke also recently directed one of the Sideshow’s music acts Dirty/Clean’s video “Delicate Nerves”. You can view the video here.
It’s a lot on the plate for Clarke, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s just taking it all in-one snapshot at a time.
The ninth Dayton Sideshow will be taking place at the Yellow Cab Building on East 4th Street on May 9th and 10th. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. For more info on Sideshow and this year’s event, click here.