Photographer E.E. Rutter’s glimpse of Steeplechase Park’s Bicycle Carousel watched over by George C. Tilyou’s waggish Funny Face is among the images on view in “Nickel Empire: Coney Island Photographs 1898-1948.” The exhibition of more than two dozen vintage photos along with a charred wooden horse from the Steeplechase ride that survived one of the park’s fires opens on January 27 at Schroeder Romero & Shredder. The Chelsea gallery, which opened in the fall, exhibits contemporary art in dialogue with historical works, gallerist Lisa Schroeder told ATZ. The Coney Island photographs and the horse are from the catalogue of Shredder, a collective formed by artists Brice Brown and Don Joint and named after their arts journal The Sienese Shredder.
Among the photographs in the exhibition are “scenes of scale models of rides, incandescent night views, people at play, and the great Bowery fire,” according to the press release. Though not in the exhibition, original plans for Steeplechase Park (1897-1964) and drawings of its rides will be available for private viewing, Schroeder said. The items are from the collection of historian and Brooklyn native Frederick Fried, who died in 1994. Fried’s pioneering works America’s Forgotten Folk Arts, Artists in Wood and The Pictorial History of the Carousel, which have long held a place on our bookshelf, brought folk art and amusement park art into the mainstream of collecting.
E.E. Rutter is less well known to us. But we learned quite a bit about him from Brooklynology, the Brooklyn Public Library’s wonderful blog. Photographs by Edgar E. Rutter (1883-1964), who advertised his studio as “E.E. Rutter,” are in the collections of the Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Borough Public Library and the Brooklyn Historical Society. “He had a photography studio at number 8, 4th Avenue (among other locations) and was the official photographer for the Borough of Brooklyn. The subjects covered in our collection include Bush Terminal, Coney Island (with many images of the boardwalk and some well-muscled lifeguards)…”
“Nickel Empire: Coney Island Photographs 1898-1948,” January 27-February 26, 2011. Schroeder Romero & Shredder, 531 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001, 212-630-0722. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 – 6; Saturday, 11 – 6. Opening Reception: Thursday, January 27, 6-8pm.
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October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society
October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society
February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels
November 16, 2009: Rare & Vintage: Coney Island Sideshow Banner by Dan Casola