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Hamptons Journal: The History of Art and the Big Apple Circus

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Audrey Flack and the History of Art String Band offers a crash course in such giant art figures as Caravaggio, Camille Claudel, Lee Krasner, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mary Cassat, and Jackson Pollock. "Oh, oh, action Jackson," sings Flack, an early photorealist painter, sculptor of goddesses, and resident of East Hampton, strumming her banjo and accompanied by stellar musicians: Johnny (Jackpot) Coughlin, Walter Us, David Roger Grossman, Adam Grimshaw and his wife Deborah Grimshaw, who blows everyone away on violin. Last weekend, the band performed at Guild Hall to benefit individuals with autism and their families. Caroline Doctorow and Evan Frankel opened the set. The evening also featured rare footage by Hans Namuth of Pollock working his drip technique at his home in Springs. Dick Cavett M.C.'d. Filling in the pauses left while Flack adjusted banjo strings, Cavett regaled the crowd with stories about Groucho Marx and Gore Vidal, such as, when asked if he was having a good time, Groucho replied, Yes, but not tonight. Au contraire, this was a very good night indeed.

The next day at Mary Jane and Charles Brock's East Hampton home, an array of Big Apple Circus performers blew bubbles and contrived balloon hats for grownups and kids. Amidst oversized balloon sculptures of flowers and clowns, Kim, dressed in an ivory costume, his face whited, revealed his secret recipe for creating mesmerizing yard long bubbles that burst to touch: he used Dawn dish detergent, distilled water and glycerine, shifting proportions depending on humidity and wind. Vendors served hot dogs and hamburgers, popcorn, and lobster rolls on the private grounds as if this were a country fair. Changing acts from year to year, this intimate, single ring, not-for-profit circus' new show, Legendarium, will feature a mesmerizing contortionist, Elayne Kramer, and a large rumped clown team, the Acrobuffos. The crowd got a sampling of each. Seth, the male Acrobuffo, who sports purple hair, said of the contortionist, there are only 5 people in the world able to do what she can. At 20, Kramer has been preparing her act for 16 years, never missing a day of stretching. No, it's not like yoga that seeks inner calm. "This," she said of an impossible spine arcing position, "is my job."

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