Jim Howle

Jim Howle PhotoWe know lung disease is no laughing matter! It is America’s #3 killer.

It is because we know the serious nature of lung disease that we called on clowns for our special 2011 Year of Smiles calendar.

Clowns can bring a touch of levity to an admittedly heavy topic. People with serious illnesses naturally center all of their attention on how they feel. A clown, by injecting a little fun and frivolity, can give these people a new focus.

So we transformed local and Tennessee-based national personalities into clowns for this fundraiser.

We wanted our celebrities to be attractive and professional-looking clowns, so we turned to Jim Howle, the best-known clown artist in the world, to create our characters.

Howle studied at the Ringling School of Art, and then graduated from the original class of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Clown College. He toured with the circus as a tramp clown for seven years. After his performing was over, Howle was selected as the Big Show’s official artist and an instructor at the College.

In 1993, he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.

Howle lives in Hartsville, S.C. He spends his time painting, and touring the country teaching and lecturing about all aspects of clowning. He made time in his busy schedule to travel to Nashville to volunteer his time for this very special, one-of-a-kind project.

“I was so pleased to do this,” Howle said. “Everyone was approachable and open. I think they all had fun and enjoyed the experience. I really enjoyed meeting all of them.”

Howle spent time getting to know his subjects before applying the makeup. His intuitive nature allows him to create unique and beautiful characters. “I try to get a feel for who they are, before I make them up,” he said.

The result of his artistry is a visually-stunning calendar that is a new and fun way to educate people about lung disease.

One purpose of this project was to give people with lung disease a reason to smile. Thanks to Jim Howle’s expertise, we have created a whole “Year of Smiles.”