Tag Archive | Coney Island

Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008 at The Brooklyn Museum

Cyclops Head
Cyclops Head from Spook-A-Rama (1955), All Photos By Gail

Two of my most-memorable adventures of the summer of 2015 were a Saturday afternoon, and a Friday evening, that I spent having various types of crazy fun at Coney Island, Brooklyn — which is truly a magical place where there are endless wonders just waiting to be discovered. I just love it there. If you are also fan of Coney Island, then I hope you had the chance to see Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008, which, sadly, just closed at the Brooklyn Museum this past weekend. Geoffrey made it out there just in time!

Funny Face of the Steeplechase
The Funny Face of the Steeplechase: An Enduring Symbol of Coney Island

This exhibit was an unexpected delight; overflowing with vintage carnival ride and game props, photography spanning over 100 years, and artworks of every kind that were inspired by the vibe of Coney Island. Please enjoy a selection of my photos!

Mae West and Jimmy Durante Circa 1910
Ad Featuring Mae West and Jimmy Durante, Circa 1910

Fortune Teller Jones Walk
Fortune Teller, Jones Walk, Coney Island (2008) By Frederick Brosen

Greetings From Coney Island
Greetings From Coney Island By Red Grooms, 2007

Vintage Game Props
Vintage Game Props

Quito Human Octopus
Quito The Human Octopus, Original Side Show Banner

Tunnel of Love
Tunnel of Love (1947) By Henry Koerner

Carousel Animals By Charles Looff
Carousel Animals By Charles Carmel

Carousels were being carved in England and Germany before they became popular in America. In 1907, the inventor William F. Mangels, who immigrated to New York from Germany, patented the overhead gears that controlled the galloping motion of the carousel horse. His design became standard in the field. Mangels collaborated with Coney Island’s best wood carvers, many of whom were also immigrants. Between 1880 and 1920, Coney Island produced a distinctive style of carved carousel animals characterized by flamboyant decorations and expressive faces. They were the product of Danish-born Charles I.D. Looff and the wood carvers he inspired, including Solomon Stein, Harry Goldstein, and Charles Carmel, whose horses are show in the photo above. Stein, Goldstein and Carmel were Eastern European Jewish wood-carvers who had fled anti-Semitism. They brought to America a tradition of carving symbolic animal imagery for synagogues, and found an outlet for their talent in the American carousel industry.

Arabian Camel Stander
Arabian Camel Stander By Charles I.D. Looff, Circa 1895

The bald eagle on this ride’s saddle (see detail, below) trumpets Coney Island as a symbol of American patriotism, while the Camel’s Arabian origin and tasseled breastplate evoke the Middle East, in keeping with the various parks’ exotic architecture.  Charles I.D. Looff built the first hand-carved carousel at Coney Island in 1876, just six years after he emigrated from Denmark.

Eagle Seat Detail

Parachute Drop Photo
Parachute Drop, Photo

Gambling Wheel
Gambling Wheel, 1900-1920

Six silver dragons form the spokes of this electrified gambling wheel. Their snakelike forms resemble Chinese dragons, legendary creatures that are historically associated with the emperor’s imperial power. As symbols of prosperity and good luck, dragons appealed to the diverse visitors who came to Coney Island.

The Barkers Booth
The Barker’s Booth By Henry Koerner, 1948-49

In this painting, the distorting mirrors that clad the barker’s booth turn normal spectators into freaks, commenting on notions of perception and difference.

Coney Island New York 1976
Coney Island New York, 1976, By Leon Levinstein

Coney Island Teenagers 1949
Coney Island Teenagers, 1949, by Harold Feinstein

Anomie 1991 Winged Victory
Anomie 1991: Winged Victory By Arnold Mesches

Coney Island 1948

Coney Island, 1948 By George Tooker

Even if you did not get the chance to see this exhibit for yourself, I hope that all of my photos will be getting you inspired and exited to head out to Coney Island for your own adventures once the summer kicks off in just a few months!

Coney Island Quote

Coney Island Visions of an American Dreamland Signage

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Stephen Powers: Coney Island is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) at The Brooklyn Museum

Espo Sign Board So Far
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

Brooklyn-based Artist Stephen Powers sure has been making the art scene a whole lot brighter since we first saw his hilarious and thought-provoking signage on display in Chelsea Art Galleries. Last summer, Powers  teamed up with New York’s Department of Transportation for a temporary public art signage project, and he also increased his global profile as one of the many collaborator’s whose works appeared as part of Banksy’s Theme Park Art Installation, Dismaland . That must have been fun.

So Far So Good

Now through August 21st, 2016, Stephen Powers responds to the visual vernacular of Coney Island in his very fun exhibit Coney Island is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) at the Brooklyn Museum.

This is Paradise

Coney Island is Still Dreamland is a site-specific installation of signs and paintings from ICY SIGNS — a traveling sign shop and an ongoing collaboration between Powers and other sign writers. At a time when computers dominate the industry of sign production, the project revives the art of hand-painted signs. The signs look commercial, but the combination of everyday images and pithy phrases offers only emotional goods.

Here’s a video I shot at the Museum last Sunday, which will give you an idea of the scope of the project that still photos cannot really capture. There are four, floor-to-ceiling boards full of colorful signs that you can pour over for hours! All signs are hand painted by Stephen and the ICY SIGNS crew, and you can even watch a video of the installation going up, which is fascinating.

Egg People

ICY SIGNS was initially conceived with the advent of the Dreamland Artist Club – a public art project in which Powers and more that 40 other artists created custom signs for the games and rides of Coney Island. “Everyone [involved in ICY SIGNS] has an emotional investment in Coney Island,” Powers explains. “We value that by making work [that’s] as fried, greasy, sweet, cheap, fun and flashy as any other experience you can have there!”

Top of Board

Stephen Powers interest in hand-painted signs grew out of his early work as a graffiti writer under the pseudonym ESPO, and was furthered by inspiration gleaned from the seaside community. This is the latest of nine iterations of ICY SIGNS, which has been exhibited in numerous storefronts, museums, and galleries in both the  US and abroad.

Our Hour Board

Our Hour Detail

Life Long Lesson Learner

YES

You can visit permanent locations of ICY SIGNS in Brooklyn, and in Powers’ hometown of Philadelphia.

8 Part Sign Board

Enamored with the unique style of painting that was born in and defines Coney Island, Powers uses the style to depict his own life and times. These paintings capture what he calls “The eternal now of New York City.”

Welcomes are for Wearing Out

A Place Called Even

In addition to new pieces by Powers, the installation includes works by Justin Green, Matt Wright, Mike Levy, Dan Murphy, Mike Langley, Mimi Gross, Alexis Ross, Sean Barton, Eric David and Tim Curtis.

Video Still 1

Be sure to watch the Video where Stephen talks about the relationship between ICY SIGNS and Coney Island.  You’ll get to see a lot of the art being created and it’s very interesting to watch it all come together. Plus, Stephen Powers seems like a cool guy. Near the end of the video, he says something like “As long as you can see the ocean, and get a hot dog, it’s still Paradise.” I like it.

Video Still with Stephen

This installation was originally scheduled to close on March 13th, but has been extended into August, so you have plenty of time to check it out!

Exhibit Signage

Stephen Powers Neon Signatiure
Stephen Powers Neon Signature

My List of Demands

Coney Island’s Luna Park Created in Lite Brites

Coney Boardwalk Lite Brite
All Photos By Gail

We made the trek to Coney Island last Friday evening to take in the penultimate Fireworks show from right on the beach — an appropriate way to celebrate the end of what has been a fantastic Summer! We had time to kill before the show started though, so we had fun eating at Nathan’s and cruising the shops, including the Lola Star Gift Shop, which is located on the Boardwalk just east of Coney Island Pier. Hanging up high on the wall, right behind the cash register, we could not miss this large Lite Brite recreation of Luna Park.”Is that a Lite Brite?” I screamed excitedly at the sales lady. “Yes!” she screamed back. “It’s the biggest in the world!”

Luna Park Lite Brite Store DisplayLuna Park Lite Brite Store Display
“Be Here Now”

And so I had to take a picture, or two.

“No photos allowed anywhere in the store!” another sales lady shouted at me. But it was too late: I had taken the photos, and many others actually also.

While we do not believe that the Lola Star Luna Park Lite Brite is in fact the World’s Biggest Lite Brite, we did  hear somewhere that this piece was originally designed for and displayed by Hugo Boss, but we have no proof that that is so.

Lola Star Gift Shop

Yes, It Exists: Minions Fart Gun Candy Tin

Minions Fart Gun
Photo By Gail

This adorable tin shaped like a Minion holding one of their dreaded Fart Guns is actually filled with tiny Cocoa Flavored, Cloud-Shaped Candies.

Fart Candy

This is what the candy looks like: little chocolate farts. Tasty!

Photographed at It’s Sugar, Located at 1318 Surf Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Visit the Coney Island Art Walls!!

Lady Pink
Art Wall By Lady Pink (All Photos By Gail)

If you haven’t been to Coney Island at least once this summer, you owe it to yourself to make the trip. Most residents of Manhattan who live, say, from midtown to the east village area,  can make it from the door to the shore in under 90 minutes, depending on how the trains are running. And for half the ride, the trains run above ground, so that makes it a bit more interesting of a ride as well. Even if you are not a “Beach Person” (raises hand), and the rides at Luna Park make you barf (keeps hand raised) there is so much to see and do at Coney Island that all you need to have is an adventurous spirit, and maybe some sunblock.

Kenny Scharf
Art Wall By Kenny Scharf

If you are a street art lover, you will absolute want to plan a visit to see the Coney Art Walls, a public art project conceived by art dealer and curator Jeffrey Deitch, which is going to be up until Halloween. Coney Art Walls features more than 25 colorful murals created by some of the most well-known street artists in the world. We spotted many of our favorites artists including How & Nosm, Roa, Buff Monster, Kenny Scharf and Ron English, as well as a selection of artists who are still up-and-coming. It’s a great mix of talent.

Ron English
Art Wall By Ron English

IMG_0153

Bon Chovie

The walls are interspersed with re-purposed cargo containers to create a pop-up truck food village, with food sold by vendors organized by Smorgasburg. Concerts are also held in the space.

Space View with Ride

Sheryo
Art Wall By Sheryo

Roa Rat

Belgian artist Roa gets two adjoining walls to create a juxtaposed Rat and Rat Skeleton.

Roa Bones

Maya Hayuk
Art Wall By Maya Hayuk

Shepard Fairey
Art Wall By Shepard Fairey

Buff Monster
Art Wall By Buff Monster

Coney Art Walls are located at 1320 Bowery Street right behind the original Nathan’s on Surf Avenue.

Original Nathan's

Hours and Behavioral Guidelines are Listed Below.

Coney Art Walls Signage
Click Image to Enlarge for Detail

Art Wall

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s New York: Assembled Realities At The Museum of the City of New York

Lynn's Trapeze Coney Island 2010
Lynn’s Trapeze Coney Island, 2010 (All Photos By Gail)

Taiwanese artist Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao came to New York at age 18 to study photography, and has been inspired by both city and craft ever since.

Opening Day Barclays Center 2013
Opening Day Barclays Center, Brooklyn, 2013

Liao creates large-scale panoramas by combining multiple exposures of the same location taken over the course of several hours. The resulting composite photographs are fascinating, complex, hyper-real views that no single shot – or the human eye – could capture. His New York: Assembled Realities exhibit, on now at the Museum of the City of New York features more than 40 works by Liao, which delightfully push the boundaries of traditional documentary photography.

Luna Park Coney Island Brooklyn 2010
Luna Park Coney Island Brooklyn, 2010

I became intrigued by Jeff’s photography from seeing the absolutely stunning photo above exhibited in the building where I work, and after hearing him give a lunchtime talk on how this exhibit came together, I knew I had to see it for myself. I’m so glad I did, because the exhibit is fantastic and not like anything you will see anywhere else. If you are fan of photography and New York, you simply must go.

Here are few of our favorite pieces from the show.

Looking North from Frank Gehry Building 2012
Looking North from Frank Gehry Building, 2012

This streetscape was taken from the uptown perspective of the Frank Gehry Building at Spruce and Fulton Streets in the Financial District. I love how the time lapse effect of the car’s head and tail lights blur together to make it look as if the streets are flowing with hot, glowing lava.

Looking North from Frank Gehry Building 2012
Detail from Above Photo

Cyclone Coney Island 2010
Cyclone Coney Island, 2010

Here’s another terrific picture of the Cyclone Roller Coaster at Coney Island, with a detail shot below.

Cyclone Coney Island Detail

42nd Street South Times Square Manhattan 2011
42nd Street South Times Square Manhattan, 2011

The above shot of 42nd Street Between 7th and 8th Avenues is a great example of a view that cannot be seen by the naked eye from any vantage point on the street. A couple of details from this photo, which spans about ten feet or so across the wall, are below.

42nd Street South Times Square Manhattan 2011 Detail

I have eaten at that McDonald’s more times than I will admit.

42nd Street South Times Square Manhattan 2011 Detail

I saw a movie at that very AMC theater just last month!

5 Points
5Pointz, Long Island City, Queens, 2004

This stunning photo of the late great 5Pointz is truly heartbreaking when you know that this former Mecca of NYC Street Art has since been razed to make way for new construction. NYC is not very sentimental in the face of the  almighty dollar.

5 Points Detail
5Pointz Detail

Cherry Walk Brooklyn Botanical Garden; Decker Farm Staten Island
Top: Cherry Walk, Brooklyn Botanical Garden; Bottom: Decker Farm, Staten Island

Wave Hill Bronx 2013 Greenwood Cemetery Brooklyn Summer 2012
Top: Wave Hill Bronx, 2013; Bottom: Greenwood Cemetery Brooklyn Summer, 2012

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 72nd Street
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

How amazing is this shot of the Spiderman and Kermit the Frog balloons as they float down Central Park West crossing the intersection of 72nd Street (that’s the famous Dakota Building on the left)? This photo tells a million stories, but when I heard Jeff give his talk, he told us about how, when he was all set up to do the shoot on this day, he kept getting moved from his location by the force of the crowds. The problem is that, if he moves locations once he starts shooting, his perspective changes such that he must start all over again. After being forced to relocate a couple of times he was afraid he would run out of time and not even get his shot for the day, but finally he moved up against a wall or firetruck or something, where he was able to stay and get his fantastic photo!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 72nd Street Detail

This is an exhibit that the entire family will enjoy and you can spend hours just examining and discovering all of the beautiful details in each of these Assembled Realities. The best part is that most of them still exist and you can visit them in real life! A gorgeous, hardcover coffee table book of photos from this show is available in the museum gift shop and also through Amazon.com (much easier to deal with) at This Link.

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s New York: Assembled Realities will be on Exhibit Through March 15th, 2015 at The Museum of the City of New York, Located at 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. Visit them online at This Link for more information.

Assembled Realities Installation View