Tears of a ClownSeptember 10, 2017

posted in portraits

by Jim Winters

I reprised and augmented my clown show at NIAD in Richmond, CA. The opening reception was yesterday. What a great day and a fun party! Thanks to everyone who showed up, the crew at NIAD and especially to my friend, Tim Buckwalter, who is the Gallery Director there and who invited me to show my work.


puffo by jim winters


My husband, Jeff, made this fantastic video to promote the show and my good friend, Mihca aka SIEGFRIED&DESTROY, created a beautiful cover version of the song Tears of a Clown.


Jim Winters: Tears of a Clown from Jeff Stallings on Vimeo.


This my blah, blah, blah about the work:

I think clowns get a bad rap these days. Their image has transformed from the comic goofball into a horror icon (thanks in part to real-life serial murderer, John Wayne Gacy, novelist, Stephen King, and one of my favorite films, Killer Klowns from Outer Space). Most people now seem to have an ingrained aversion. Clowns can definitely be disturbing, I’ll give you that, but for me, therein lies both the charm and the frisson. I prefer to add my own (sometimes) sinister take on a wholesome-looking clown rather than see an outright creepy horror clown. That’s too easy and obvious. I thrill at the manic happiness, the slapstick silliness and most of all, the exaggerated sadness of the classic circus clown. The frowning clown holding a broken flower with a tear streaming down his cheek moves me.. Perhaps he is preemptively mourning his loss of status in the hierarchy of revered male entertainers. “You used to love me!”

A good friend recently said, “There is a thin line between a clown and a drag queen.” I totally agree. A clown is basically a type of masculine drag, but men wearing make-up in any context has a certain power. The clowns in this show are intended to amuse and unsettle, not to scare. (Is it even possible now for a clown to elicit subtle reactions?) The source material was vintage paint-by-number paintings and mid-century photographs. The death/suicide series is a clown graphic of my own.


tears of a clown by jim winters


tears of a clown video credits

niad and jim winters logos


Installation views:

jim winters clown show installation view 1

jim winters clown show installation view 2


Me and Tim on installation day:

jim and tim at niad


cram it clownie


My clown graphic, Mo the Clown:

mo the clown by jim winters