Jack Ray: Selling Glamour and Illusion

Creator(s): North American Carnival Museum and Archives

In the early 1900s the carnival beckoned its audience with canvas signs and callers. Banners and posters were strung up in succession, tempting the public with glimpses of the exotic. Sensational images and peeks of the show inside introduced by a caller's spiel enticed spectators to venture inside the tent. This fanfare at the entrance to a show was known as "ballyhoo".

Although riveting, these banners reflected a bygone era. The 20th century spurred modernization in every aspect of North American culture and the carnival industry was no exception. A new face for the carnival was needed.

This exhibit explores the life and work of John C. (Jack) Ray, the almost forgotten Toronto commercial artist and master designer of theatrical scenery. Ray's creative pop culture design can be seen in his architectural drawings and artist renderings which show the Art Deco and modern design movements in the outdoor amusement industry during the middle of the 20th century and the innovations of this little remembered but very important member of the carnival and amusement park world.

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