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Greetings from Coney Island

Greetings from Coney Island mural on LunaTics Ice Cream building, Surf Avenue near Stillwell. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The eye-popping “Greetings from Coney Island” mural on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream building that we wrote about last week as a work-in-progress is finished and already a magnet for tourists and cellphone cameras. Coney Island sign painter Tommy Holiday and former graffiti artist Victor Ving speedily completed the work in just a few days. On Saturday we stopped by to catch the artists’ signing ceremony.

Greetings from Coney Island

Greetings from Coney Island muralists Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving in front of the “N” and the “E,” featuring the Steeplechase Funny Face and Wonder Wheel Park’s Spook-A-Rama Cyclops. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Tommy’s Coney creds include painting the cars on the Cyclone roller coaster and signage for Coney Island USA and Wonder Wheel Park. Later this month, Victor and photographer Lisa Beggs are embarking on a year-long “Greetings Tour” of the U.S. to paint vintage postcard inspired murals. You can follow them at @GreetingsTour on twitter and Instagram. Besides the work in Coney Island, “Greetings from…” murals have already been painted in Chinatown, Red Hook in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Canton, Ohio, in collaboration with local artists.

Greetings from Coney Island

The letter “N” in Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving’s mural features the Cyclone roller coaster. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

“When I got the wall, I didn’t know what I was going to do, ” Tommy told ATZ. “I wanted it to be historical as well as current.” Each letter of the mural puts a Coney landmark or luminary in the spotlight and is a work of art unto itself. Our favorite is the “E,” an intricate mingling of the Wonder Wheel’s neon sign and the Cyclops from Spook-A-Rama. The Cyclone’s “N” and Luna Park’s “Y” offer a hat tip to the vanished Astroland. The “S” is the landmark Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk, which is currently under renovation. The design is a throwback to the days when it was vacant and tagged by graffiti artists and features the tags of old friends.

Greetings from Coney Island

The letter “S” in Tommy Holiday and Victor Ving’s mural features the landmark Childs building on the Boardwalk. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Other letters showcase the Boardwalk, Steeplechase Funny Face, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Parachute Jump, Nathan’s, and the wall’s owners, LunaTic Ice Cream. The artists also paid homage to a Coney Island artist whose public art has endured: Marie Roberts’ sideshow banners adorn Coney Island USA’s landmark building and one of them is the “D” in Coney Island.

Victor Ving @GreetingsTour

Victor Ving signing a corner of the mural, His @GreetingsTour starts on April 28. Photo © Tricia Vita

Let’s hope the mural inspires more property owners to donate wall space. The years since the Coney Island rezoning have not been kind to public art. When the Dreamland Artists Club’s murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Steve Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.” More than a decade later, only a handful remain including Powers’ “Bump Your Ass Off” signs for the Eldorado and his staircase mural for the Coney Island Museum. Daze’s fish on West 12th Street and Os Gemeos’ mural on Stillwell are badly peeling.

Greetings from Coney Island

Tommy Holiday signing a corner of the mural. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

If you want to party with the new “Greetings from Coney Island” mural, the chain-link fenced lot adjacent to it is the former Shore Hotel site owned by Thor Equities and is for lease for $25,000 for the season.

LunaTics Ice Cream

The mural is on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream building at 1224 Surf Ave in Coney Island.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

August 8, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

June 8, 2012: Art of the Day: Steve Powers New Signs for Coney Island

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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Tommy Holiday Coney Island Mural

Work-in-progress: Tommy Holiday mural on side of LunaTics Ice Cream, Coney Island. April 15, 2015. Photo by Stan Fox

“A friend and I will be painting a huge Coney Island mural on the side of LunaTics Ice Cream shop on Surf Avenue,” wrote Coney sign painter Tommy Holiday in an email to ATZ. His previous work in Coney Island includes Coney Island USA, Wonder Wheel Park, and the cars of the Cyclone. Today, they are filling in the letters with designs featuring Steeplechase’s Funny Face, the Wonder Wheel, Luna Park’s gate and more. Many thanks to Stan Fox for his photos of the work-in-progress.

Coney Island Mural

Work-in-progress: mural on side of LunaTics Ice Cream, Coney Island. April 15, 2015. Photo by Stan Fox

Related posts on ATZ…

March 26, 2014: Art of the Day: ‘Mic Check’ by RAE in Coney Island

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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Jim Hand Show Painter

Signs by Show Painter Jim Hand via Facebook.com/Circuspainter

Florida-based show painter Jim Hand is (forgive the pun) an old hand at painting signs and banners for circuses and sideshows including Hall & Christ’s World of Wonders. Over the weekend he posted these photos on his Facebook page with the following pitch that quickly gathered a tip of interested customers.

I been ‘thinking” of doing this for along time….TODAY was THE DAY……I started cleaning out my storage sheds and the old truck in my yard…..Man -o-man some of this stuff hasn’t seen the light of day for YEARS……

I have been saving (hoarding ?) this stuff thinking I might need that piece ‘some day’….

EBAY HERE I COME !!! It’s time to let all my treasures go….But FIRST I will post a picture here on my page to see if any of you has space in your shed for something you “Might need someday”

PM me if you have any interest….

Jim Hand Show Painter

Sideshow Signage by Show Painter Jim Hand via Facebook.com/Circuspainter

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

February 4, 2013: Rare & Vintage: Girl to Gorilla Sideshow Banner

November 4, 2011: Up for Auction: Ringling Bros Circus Side Show Poster

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Brooklyn Rock

Brooklyn Rock, 3015 Stillwell Avenue, in Coney Island. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

“The French have never left,” says Brooklyn Rock brand manager Seth Braunstein when ATZ asks where the year-round tourists who visit his Coney Island shop are coming from. Located across Stillwell Avenue from Nathan’s Famous, which is also open daily regardless of the season or the weather, this one-of-a-kind shop is one of the few places in Coney to buy a souvenir tee in February.

What makes Brooklyn Rock’s tees out of the ordinary, says Braunstein, is that each one of the shirts is hand-dyed in unique colors and hand-printed from hand-drawn designs by artists Chris Smith and Yukiko Wada, the couple who founded the business in 2002. “We start with white American Apparel tees made in the U.S. out of cotton grown in the U.S,” he says. In the afternoon sunlight, the colors are especially vibrant and conjure up summery dreams on a wintry day.

Brooklyn Rock

Paintings of the Elephant Hotel and the Parachute Jump by Yukiko Wada, hand-screened Tees by Wada and husband Chris Smith. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s landmark Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump feature prominently in the designs along with the magical place names CONEY and BROOKLYN. Among the signature sayings printed on Brooklyn Rock’s tees are “Brooklyn, Entertaining Manhattan since 1646″ and “Keep Brooklyn Offensive.”

Famous faces on their tees include Brooklyn-born comedian and Seinfeld writer Larry David, whose people once bought one for him, Braunstein says with pride. “Tonight, one of our people will be sitting in the third row wearing the Larry David tee at the preview performance of his Broadway show.”

Brooklyn Rock’s tees, hoodies, hats, totes, knapsacks, aprons and other hand-printed items range in price from $15-$60.

One specialty at Brooklyn Rock that you may not expect to find in Coney Island is their book rack, which is stocked with gently read copies of classics by Ayn Rand to Kurt Vonnegut. The used books come from their friends at Williamsburg’s Book Thug Nation and Bushwick’s Human Relations, whom they’ve known since their days as fellow street vendors. Books are priced at $5 and $8.

Hand-Printed Tee at Brooklyn Rock

Sleeveless Hand-printed Coney Tee at Brooklyn Rock in Coney Island. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Before opening their Coney Island store in May 2013, the Brooklyn Rock team wholesaled to children’s shops and Coney Island USA’s gift shop. They set up shop in a street kiosk on Bedford Avenue, a shipping container at the now defunct DeKalb Market, and a store across from Barclays Center, where foot traffic turned out to be slow.

Their Coney Island store is in Thor Equities’ retail building at Surf and Stillwell, where current tenants include It’Sugar, Rainbow Shops, Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co., the Brooklyn Nets Shop, a couple of mini-arcades and the soon-to open Wahlburgers franchise. Only It’Sugar and Brooklyn Rock remain open year round. How did this Bushwick-born Mom and Pop get their foot in the door?

Brooklyn Rock

Hand-printed shirt at Brooklyn Rock on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. November 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Brooklyn Rock’s lucky break came when Braunstein saw a news article about space for lease in Thor’s then-vacant new building and sent them a proposal. Thor Equities had sent out a press release that said: “Thor To Add Local Flavor To Coney Island By Leasing Major Surf Avenue Parcels To Local Brooklyn Merchants At Reduced Rents For 2013.”

We remember it well. For ATZ, the biggest surprise of the release was what Thor CEO Joe Sitt had to say about chains vs local businesses: “Coney Island’s popularity has reached record proportions, but we can never forget what got us here – local, ahead-of-their-time business owners who brought flair, hipness and edge to the People’s Playground,” Sitt said. “While it is wonderful that national chains are now coming to Coney, providing needed jobs and year-round revenue to the community, we must always remember the history of this iconic neighborhood.”

Hear, hear!

Brooklyn Rock, 3015 Stillwell Avenue, between Surf Ave and the Bowery, Coney Island, 11224. Winter hours are 12 noon till 7pm.

UPDATE: This store has closed! Read “Thor’s Coney Island: Brooklyn Mom & Pop Out But Not Down” (February 25, 2015) for details.

Hand-printed Tees and Hats at Brooklyn Rock

Hand-printed Tees, Totes and Hats at Brooklyn Rock. January 25, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

January 22, 2015: Coney Island Rumor Mill: No Rides But Games, Food & Merch Coming to Thor’s Lot

November 28, 2014: ATZ Previews Coney Island’s Small Business Saturday

February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

Read Full Post »

World Mark Pimlott

Photo of Coney Island paving stone by BBC journalist Jacqui Maher via Instagram

Coney Island is one of the 750 place names inscribed on the paving stones of World, a permanent installation at BBC’s Broadcasting House in London. Created by artist and architect Mark Pimlott, the pavement art expresses the global dimension of the BBC, whose motto is “Nation shall speak peace unto nation.” World has steel lines of longitude and latitude, small embedded lights and an audio installation linked to broadcasts from the BBC World Service.

ATZ learned about the artwork, which debuted in 2011, via a tweet from a BBC journalist who wondered why Coney Island was part of the piece. We emailed Pimlott to ask how the names were chosen and his association with Coney Island.

The names were arrived at through association with many different events and aspects of historical consciousness. These were not arrived at scientifically, but associatively, in a manner resembling improvisation. There were places of origins, pleasure, religions, catastrophe, atrocity, infamy and fame; rivers, deserts and islands, all of which would strike a user of the square as significant in some way, evoking memories or ideas or connections. In all, walking across the square and reading names would result in a wealth of interrelated thoughts about the world we make and inhabit.

World by Mark Pimlott at BBC Broadcasting House

World by Mark Pimlott at BBC Broadcasting House

‘Coney Island’ is featured in a little cluster of other islands: some remote, others famous. The ‘island’ bit is what bound them together, even just the word ‘island.’ For me, Coney Island appeared because of its evocation of ‘everyman’ relaxation, Luna Park, photographs of the great hordes on the beach made by Weegee, the hot dog eating competition, a particular conception of summer. I visited only once, many years ago, a rather melancholic affair, not uncommon to all seaside ‘resorts.’

Related posts on ATZ…

January 28, 2015: Art of the Day: Takahiro Iwasaki’s Miniature Coney Island at Asia Society

December 13, 2014: Art of the Day: David Levine’s Watercolors of Coney Island

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

September 17, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

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Out of Disorder (Coney Island) 2012 by Takahiro Iwasaki.

Out of Disorder (ConeyIsland) 2012 by Takahiro Iwasaki. Asia Society Museum, thru April 26, 2015

The 150-foot tall steel Wonder Wheel inspired Takahiro Iwasaki’s ethereal ten-inch tall sculpture made of fibers pulled from the beach towels on which it is perched! The miniature landscape also includes neighboring Coney Island landmarks the Parachute Jump and Cyclone.

Created in 2012 during the Hiroshima-based artist’s International Studio and Curatorial Program residency in Brooklyn, “Out of Disorder (Coney Island) 2012″ is among the works on view at Asia Society in the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. A newly commissioned piece created from kimono fibers takes its inspiration from a pair of 17th century Japanese folding screens from the Asia Society Museum Collection and will be shown alongside the six-panel screens.

Asia Society Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am-6pm and on Friday from 11am– 9pm. General admission is $12, seniors $10, students $7, and admission is free for members and persons under 16. Free admission Friday evenings, 6pm – 9pm.

“Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus,” January 27 thru April 26, 2015 at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue New York, NY, 212-288-6400

Related posts on ATZ…

December 13, 2014: Art of the Day: David Levine’s Watercolors of Coney Island

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

May 22, 2013: Art of the Day: Girl to Gorilla Showfront by Lew Stamm

September 17, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

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Step Right UpAfter Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island got lucky when a rare vintage 1940’s Mangels shooting gallery from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was brought out of storage, restored, and installed at Coney Island USA’s Surf Avenue storefront. As far as we know, it’s the only one of its kind in operation that is open to the public. Since many shooting galleries were sold for scrap iron during World Wars I and II, you’re more likely to come across cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats in folk art collections than as a game in an amusement park.

Richard and Valerie Tucker’s passion for collecting figural cast iron began in the`early 1980s with the acquisition of a row of doves from a William F. Mangels’ gallery manufactured in Coney Island. Thirty years later, they own hundreds of shooting gallery targets from a variety of manufacturers. Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms is a sumptuous coffee table art book with more than 225 color images of American and European targets along with a sampling of carnival banners, signs and game pieces. As the first and only book on the subject, the volume is valuable to collectors and of special interest to fans of carnival art and antiques.

In addition to Mangels, the 144-page book has chapters on C.W. Parker of Kansas, William Wurfflein of Philadelphia, the John T. Dickman Company of Los Angeles and Chicago manufacturers Evans, Hoffmann, Mueller, and Smith, as well as miscellaneous targets and a few European targets. Essays by specialists on the manufacturers supplement illustrations from the Tuckers’ archive of catalogs, trade cards and other ephemera which are a great resource since the majority of targets have no trade marks.

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Card Suits by WF Mangels. Private Collection. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

One of our favorite target makers is C.W. Parker, who started out as a shooting gallery operator and soon got into the business of supplying traveling carnivals with a wide variety of attractions. Parker had a showman’s flair for borrowing design ideas from his fellow manufacturers and fashioning them into commercially successful shooting galleries and carousels.

No complete Parker galleries are known to exist or even to have been photographed, says Bob Goldsack, a Parker historian who wrote the book’s chapter on the self-proclaimed “Carnival King.” Parker’s highly detailed and mechanized targets included owls and eagles with flapping wings, whippets chasing rabbits, and the now politically incorrect circus animals, Indians, and Lincolnesque figure holding a sign that says “Hit Me” in a gallery advertised as “A New Political Shooting Gallery.”

A lecture and book signing by the authors will be held at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave at 66th St, in Manhattan, on December 18 at 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms by Richard and Valerie Tucker. Schiffer Publishing, 2014. Hardcover, $45

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Indian by CW Parker. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

Related posts on ATZ…

September 5, 2013: Photo of the Day: Restored WF Mangels Shooting Gallery

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

September 28, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Auction of French Fairground Art

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

Read Full Post »

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