Joe and Bess Lee. Photo by Nicole McPheeters

In 2019, husband-and-wife team Joe and Bess Lee exhibited more than a dozen 2 1/2-by-3-foot acrylic paintings on paper in the style of mid-20th-century circus sideshow banners in a show called Professor Animalia’s Menagerie of Struggling Species in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

“Circus banners were frequently stylized visual promotions, displaying the awe that risk- performers inspired—the trapeze artists, for example,” Bess explains. Each banner featured an endangered species rendered in circus style.

Joe is now writing and illustrating a biography of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. Bess has worked on broadening her artistic experience through Ivy Tech arts courses and meditative study of museum artwork at the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.


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