PRINT May 1996


LAST FALL, at Ron Lee’s World of Clowns, Jeffrey Vallance curated the most exuberantly disturbing show I have ever seen. Minutes after entering Mr. Lee’s museum, which occupies a patch of Martian landscape 20 minutes outside Las Vegas, I began to experience a stomach-twirling cocktail of elation and nausea. It was no doubt helped along by the female clown who greeted me at the door, and a surge of dizzy memories sparked by the indoor carousel, but the most disorienting aspect of “Clown Oasis” was its uncanny disappearing act. Like an illusion in a Siegfried & Roy show, Vallance’s exhibition was there, and not there, at the same time.

World of Clowns isn’t your typical exhibition space. Cluttered with hundreds of pewter clown statuettes (Ron Lee is a leading manufacturer of such figurines), it houses clown-costume exhibits and a memorable sequence of display windows (one labeled “Painting”)

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