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Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Mulch for sale by the yard and the buzz of chainsaws are among the unexpected new sights and sounds in Coney Island’s amusement district this season. Chainsaw carvers creating sculptures and mulch made from recycled New York City sycamores removed under contract with the Parks Department will be on a vacant lot next to the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Mermaid Parade Day and the Fourth of July. The artists are from upstate New York and New England and include Susan Peters of Blue Rose Chainsaw Carvings, Ravena, NY; Sue O’Sullivan of Renaissance Girl, Royalston, MA; and Adam Mulholland of Sickline Carving, Windham, CT.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ first met the carvers and took these photos on Memorial Day Weekend in Coney Island, where they’d been invited by Roger West of A.2.Z Universal. West is a subcontractor hired by Paul Bunyan Tree Service to help recycle some of the thousands of trees that have been cut down in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. On Memorial Day, the scene on the Surf Avenue side of the lot where the event took place was reminiscent of a rural county fair. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks to watch the carvers shape wood into fanciful sculptures and buy some of the pieces, which range in price from $20 to a few thousand dollars.

Chainsaw Carving

Chainsaw Carving on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

An array of finished pieces was on display along with piles of mulch for sale and a towering stack of firewood. The carvings included tikis, totems and Hello Kitty, among others. Insignia of the Brooklyn Cyclones and Gargiulo’s Restaurant found homes at these local businesses. For Mermaid Parade Day, the carvers have been creating an inventory of starfish, seahorses and other sea creatures to sell in Coney Island. The privately owned lot is just west of West 15th Street, sandwiched between Luna Park’s Thunderbolt and Peggy O’Neills.

Chainsaw Art Coney Island

Chainsaw Carvings for Sale in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

West has already processed a couple of thousand yards of mulch and has enough wood from New York City trees to make 10,000 more yards. “I can ramp up my production but I need an alternative outlet because we’re producing it at a high rate,” says West, who hopes gardeners, community groups, businesses and anyone in the market for mulch will contact him via A2zuniversalLLC[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Chainsaw Art

Chainsaw Art and Mulch in Coney Island. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Nieman Eisman Banner

Monkey Scooter Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

We’ve seen quite a few banners of carnival monkeys driving tiny race cars in Monkey Speedways, but never a monkey on a scooter. Considering the current popularity of scooters, this delightful banner could attract some competitive bidding when it goes on the auction block on Saturday.

The painting by Nieman Eisman, a master of the Chicago style of banner painting from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, is one of several carnival canvases in Mosby & Company’s Auction on May 17th. The pre-sale estimate of the giant-sized advertisement –it is approximately 6 feet tall by 9 feet wide–is $2,500 – $3,500. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

Nieman Eisman Banner

Hollywood Movie Star Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

A second Eisman banner titled Hollywood Movie Star shows two tuxedoed monkeys at a fancy restaurant. Banners by both Fred Johnson and Johnny Meah featuring Otis Jordan, “The Frog Boy,” who worked at Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore in his later years, are also among the desirable banners in Saturday’s sale.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 24, 2014: Up for Auction: Vintage Sideshow Banners & Carnival Curiosities

March 19, 2014: Memoirs of a Carny Kid: Monkeys on the Midway

November 23, 2013: More Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Artist and Brooklyn Resident Tatyana Fazlalizadeh will create a mural for Coney Art Walls

Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, best known for her public art project “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” put out a call on twitter today: “Brooklyn: I’m looking for Coney Island residents who’d like to potentially be portrayed in a mural I’ll be doing. Any gender or age!” In reply to ATZ’s query whether the work was going to be part of Coney Art Walls, a public art show curated by Jeffrey Deitch on Thor Equities lot on Coney’s Bowery, the artist replied via email with details:

Yes, it’s a part of Coney Island Walls. As one of the many artists who will be creating work, I want to be sure that Coney Island residents are represented in the show.

I’d like to sit with a few people from Coney Island to discuss their lives in the neighborhood. From there I will shoot their photograph and draw their portraits from those photographs. The drawings will then be printed at large scale and installed at the Coney Island Walls. I’d like to meet with people between now and May 19th. I only need about 5-6 people. I’ll be installing the piece during the first week on June.

This process is the same I use for my project, Stop Telling Women to Smile. STWTS focuses on gender based street harassment. The Coney Island piece will look like this (see picture below), with the text potentially being a quote about Coney Island from one of the participants.

If your zip code is 11224 and you would like your portrait to represent Coney Island in a show that is expected to be seen by millions of people this summer, contact the artist at tlynnfaz[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Mural from Stop Telling Women to Smile Project by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Related posts on ATZ…

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

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

January 21, 2010: Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg

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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

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