RIVER FRONT TIMES

 MAY 4 2007

 

                   

Carny, Art

BY JAMES WEBER

When Greil Marcus coined the phrase “the old, weird America” to describe the otherworldliness lingering in the grooves of old blues records and Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, he may have written his epitaph. That neologism so clearly defines the meat-and-potatoes center of American culture, it will be all anyone remembers of poor Mr. Marcus in 100 years. Photographer Virginia Lee Hunter dives straight into Marcus Country with her collection, Carny: Americana on the Midway. Her subject is not just the symbiotic system of weary-eyed carny workers and the gleeful rubes who drift through each other’s lives; her color and black-and-white photos capture the greasy vibe of small-town summers across America, the joy of shaved ice, the precariousness of Tilt-A-Whirls with grinding motors -- the old weirdness that no strip mall can provide on its best Saturday night. On Friday, May 4, you can bask deep in the weirdness' swampy glow at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com), when Virginia Lee Hunter chats about Carny from 6 to 8 p.m. A collection of her photographs hangs in Left Bank’s gallery through Saturday, June 9.