Several 1940s circus banners will be offered in the December 9th auction, The ICONIC Sale. Several of these appeared in an episode of American Pickers (season 20, episode 19) titled “Freaky Florida.” They are from the estate of James Sigler, a third-generation circus banner artist, and they were painted by his grandfather, Jack Sigler and Snap Wyatt.
Sideshow banner painter Snap Wyatt was known for his bold, cartoon-like style. His banners were painted with quick caricatures, and only the essential details of the performer were outlined in black to make them stand out. He said he could finish one in a day for about $85 bucks. The bright and colorful banners drew in the crowd with the mystery of what was inside the tent. Wyatt is considered to be among the top in his field.
As an artist, Snap Wyatt’s canvases are Herculean in scale, his colors bold, his brushwork confident. He was even relatively affordable. Yet while others painted the French countryside or seascapes or pastoral vistas, Wyatt was busy painting pinheads.
Sideshow banner painter Snap Wyatt and a handful of others including … Jack Sigler (now deceased), brought art to the carnival midways of the 30’s through 60’s with their banners that waved outside the circus and carnival sideshows drawing the crowd to come inside.
Originally intended as silent talkers, the huge canvases played to a carnival attendees curiosity and directed them to walk right into the sideshow tent.