By Roger McBain
The veteran Evansville photographer's color, 80-page book, "Hadi Shrine Circus: The Last Shows at Roberts Stadium 2010" almost sounds like an afterthought, the way Gwaltney tells the story.
"I remember going to the circus at the Coliseum (in 1956), the year before it moved to the stadium," he said. "Growing up in Evansville, the circus was a family tradition. My father, Bob Sr., and my grandfather, Earl Lacer, were both Shriners. My grandfather also was on the circus committee in the early '60s."
He didn't know what he'd do with the images. "I just took those pictures because I wanted to document the circus at Roberts Stadium," he said, the last year before it moved to the new Ford Center.
photograph by Bob Gwaltney The three sisters of "The Flying Redpaths" climb to the top of the circus in the dark during the 77th Annual Hadi Shrine Circus in 2010. This is one of the circus photographs in a book by Bob Gwaltney documenting the last time the show was held at the stadium.
The idea for a book came after a photography workshop about online "publish on demand" publications that allow authors, artists and photographers to create and offer for sale everything from poetry books to picture books to wedding albums.
"They talked about how easy and how good these books were," Gwaltney said. And unlike the old "vanity press" publications, the publish-on-demand system meant he wouldn't have to order a minimum number of copies, collect sales tax or run the risk of winding up with "a garage full of books," he said.
Gwaltney chose www.blurb.com to publish "Hadi Shrine Circus, The Last Shows in Roberts Stadium 2010," which is now available online.
The 80-page color book documents the final productions in Roberts, from setup to the closing acts and everything in between.
Since 1957, the stadium had been home to the circus and the 77th Annual Hadi Shrine Circus in 2010 was its last show at the stadium. From the roustabouts and vendors to the human and animal acts to the children waving glow-sticks high up in the stadium, the details are captured by Gwaltney's photographs along with the action and the essence of the three-ring circus that played 54 years in Roberts Stadium.
Gwaltney's camera takes viewers into the shadows to watch crew members getting ready for the next act.
It moves up into the stadium's rafters to freeze members of a family trapeze act high above the floor below.
It tails the elephants into the stadium, the tiger trainer into the cage, the dog and pony acts into the ring.READ MORE AT:http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/dec/22/books-photos-tip-hat-to-the-big-top/