In 2017, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art produced a video entitled “That’s Show Biz” that animates the diary of a circus performer named Betty Huber. Depicting her life in show business as a circus performer, the diary recounts Betty’s fascinating life through charming, detailed illustrations, rather than words.
The story of Betty Huber, aka Betty Patrick/Betty Parroff/Betty Scheutz/Betty of the Sensational Kays, were all written down in a diary depicting images that can only be described as what you would see at a circus. Photographs of people propelling themselves into the air with the illusion of making people think they are going to fall to the ground, and lions in cages intriguing children to say hello. With supplemental photographs from the Huber family, Betty Huber depicted the ‘show biz’ of a circus with her drawings.
Betty’s daughter Fritzi Huber showed Halsey Institute Director Mark Sloan the diary, knowing his longstanding interest in the circus (he authored the book Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927, as Seen by Photographer F. W. Glasier). Desiring to help the already captivating drawings come to life, Sloan worked with longtime collaborators Dave Stewart Brown and Nathan Koci to produce a video fly-through of the diary. In this video, Betty Huber cartwheels, swings on the trapeze, and soars through the air once more.
“In 1989 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. By 1990 she was given three months to live, but she stayed with us for another seventeen years, cancer free. However, this diagnosis set her to the task of telling her story, the story of Betty Huber, aka Betty Patrick, Parroff, Scheutz, Betty of the Sensational Kays, all in the pages of a tattered diary.” – Fritzi Huber
-by Madelayne Abel, Halsey Institute intern