Earlier this month, we visited the Gowanus studio shared by Coney Island Hysterical Society co-founders Philomena Marano and Richard Eagan. In this two-part post, ATZ’s photos are interspersed with the artists’ own words about their Coney-inspired artwork.
Lately I’ve been considering one of the strains that run through both of our works- something I coined as a “Fool the Guesser” concept- Loosely defined: things seem like one thing, but may be another -perhaps bordering on “optical illusion” but not in the strictest sense- more like a form of visual play.
Eagan has a series of painted target constructions which take on a kinetic quality as one changes their point of view, and I have work in which it is really tough to decipher the medium it was created in- printed, paper or painted… thus summoning a sense of wonderment or an invitation to a guessing game.
We’re planning to group these selected works and hope to find a venue for an exhibition.
My new PLAY FASCINATION piece actually revisits an earlier set of works with the same name, but it’s more “unhinged.” In this piece I used a perception shifting ploy. What seems to be flat is actually sculptural. Is it caving in or blowing out? – there is no “one way” to view it.
To create it I made a cut paper composition which I then cut up into pieces. Next I reassembled them so that the pieces sit on different levels, some tilted inward, some outward and some level, thus adding dimension and delirium.
I originally borrowed the type face I use in my PLAY FASCINATION works from a decaying metal sign that hung on the side of the Faber’s Fascination building on Surf Avenue. In 1990 I recomposed the elements and created 5 similar works with the same title; one in cut paper and four hard edged paintings. I recall viewers engaged in examining the work as it hung side by side in an exhibit, wondering or “guessing,” is this paper, painted or printed?
This “fun house” or” magic show of illusion” concept appeals to me because it parallels my subject matter. I think it’s time to explore & embrace this unique Coney Island essence a bit further- to pay tribute to it.
Related posts on ATZ...
October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society
October 1, 2010: Oct 2: Coney Island Hysterical Art on Gowanus Artists Studio Tour
September 19, 2010: Art of the Day: Play Fascination by Philomena Marano
October 4, 2009: The Wonder of Artist Philomena Marano’s Wonder Wheel