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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.

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.

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.”

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

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David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Past and Present, 1993, watercolor on paper, 14 13/16 x 10 inches, Collection of The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA

For this long-time admirer, seeing one of David Levine’s sublime and instantly recognizable watercolors of Coney Island on the cover of Gallery Guide was a joyful moment, knowing it heralded more. From December 12 through January 17, Forum Gallery presents “David Levine: The World He Saw,” the first major exhibition of paintings and drawings by Levine since his passing in 2009. Fifty works are on view including more than 25 of his watercolors of Coney Island, many loaned by private collectors and museums.

Renowned as a caricaturist whose insightful drawings were on the cover of The New York Review of Books for more than 40 years, Brooklyn-born Levine spent his summers painting the bathers on Coney Island beach and the architecture on the boardwalk and adjacent streets. Many of the structures that he painted–pavilions, booths, bathhouses, and amusement rides, have since vanished or were demolished.

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Stauch’s Baths, 1981, watercolor on paper, 10 7/8 x 14 5/8 inches, Private collection, San Francisco, CA

While photographs of Coney’s past attractions tend to put a “then and now” distance between the viewer and the subject, the immediacy of watercolor and Levine’s mastery of the medium makes us see what he saw. Then is now. The ache in the heart upon viewing his watercolors of Stauch’s Baths, the Bank of Coney Island building and the original Thunderbolt roller coaster is akin to phantom pain for a limb that has been lost.

There are also paintings of rides that are thankfully still with us– the Polar Express, the B&B Carousell–and of elderly women whom Levine affectionately referred to as the “Shmata Queens of Coney.”

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Carousel, 1989, watercolor on paper, 11 3/8 x 14 1/4 inches

“Each year they would say: ‘Ya know, lest veek, dere vuss a men chust like you.’ I would patiently tell them that it was me,” Levine wrote. “The ‘shmata,’ or ‘rag,’ not only refers to the head cloth, but also to the bathing suits – faded and misshapen by molding to aged and deformed bodies that have been out under the sun. They are now comfortable with me sketching in their midst and only occasionally ask to see what I do.”

Walter Bernard, a fellow member of the Painting Group, which Levine co-founded with Aaron Shikler in 1958, wrote this remembrance in the New York Times in 2010: “Watching David work was a revelation. He handled watercolors unlike anybody else. He liked to experiment and, as he put it, ‘play.’ He would draw, redraw, ‘schmeer,’ sponge out and paint again. It was not uncommon to see him rub out a work we’d been marveling over, saying, simply, ‘I didn’t get what I was going after.'”

David Levine, Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, End of Youth, 1984 watercolor on paper 14 x 22 1/2 inches, Private collection, New York, NY

Levine often painted the 1925 Thunderbolt, which was SBNO (Standing But Not Operating, in roller coaster parlance) since the early 1980’s. The titles of the works are telling: End of Youth, End of Joy, Goya at Coney, and after it was demolished in 2000, The Past.

One of the stories Levine told about the people he met while painting in Coney is this poignant anecdote about End of Joy: “I was seated on a side street, painting the Tinturn Abbey of joy rides, the Thunderbolt. Black and looming, it stood abandoned. A group of children surrounded me. They had just left the beach. Their chattering stopped as they watched my performance. Then, silently, they moved off as a group. When they had walked a short distance, the smallest, a little girl, turned and ran back to me. Without a word, she placed a quarter on my watercolor, then returned to her friends.”

A 72-page, fully illustrated catalogue, with foreword by author and journalist Pete Hamill, accompanies the exhibition.

David Levine: The World He Saw. December 12, 2014 to January 17, 2015. Forum Gallery, 730 Fifth Avenue 2nd Fl. (between 56th & 57th Streets), New York, NY 10019. 212-355-4545. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 5:30pm

David Levine Forum Gallery

David Levine at Forum Gallery, Untitled (Three Women, Two Umbrellas on beach), 1982, watercolor on paper, 4 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches

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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

August 21, 2012: Art of the Day: Out of Disorder (Coney Island) by Takahiro Iwasaki

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

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It’s summer Down Under but British-Australian artist and illustrator Sarah Beetson is already dreaming of next summer in Coney Island, which she calls “her favourite place of inspiration.” At home in her studio in Gold Coast, Queensland, Beetson has painted dozens of Polaroids that she snapped during a three-month residency in Coney last summer. Now she has assembled them into a lively and inventive new video.

“Sara Beetson’s Coney Island Painted Polaroids” gathers shots of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s painted clown faces (originally in Astroland) and signage and the B&B Carousell’s horses set to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Carousel.” The frame by frame addition of hand-lettered lyrics is delightful and will make you want to sing along: “Lost my heart on the carousel to a circus girl who left my heart in pieces…”

Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson with Stanley Fox, and her painting of him, at the Coney Island History Project. June 21, 2014. Photo © Coney Island History Project

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November 14, 2014: Last Chance to Dance with “Miss Coney Island” This Year

November 3, 2014: Summertime Has Gone Away, Polar Bears Are Here to Stay

December 16, 2013: Video of the Day: Beyoncé’s “XO” Love Letter from Coney Island

January 8, 2011: Music Video: Strange Powers by the Magnetic Fields

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Expert Tattooing Lithographed Poster

Expert Tattooing Lithographed Poster by Friedlander. Noel Barrett Auctions. December 6, 2014

This vintage Friedlander poster featuring a voluptuous Victorian tattooed lady advertising “EXPERT TATTOOING – DONE HERE” is up for auction today at Noel Barrett’s Fall Antique Auction in New Hope, Penn. Bidding is also available online via live auctioneers.

The 38″ x 24″ lithographed paper poster is mounted on board in a period painted frame. Adolph Friedlander was a prolific German lithographer whose firm printed many circus, vaudeville and magic posters beginning in the late 19th century. Tattoo posters are scarce, according to the auctioneer. Though this one has survived in a distressed state, it remains alluring. An hour before the start of today’s auction, it already has 14 bids.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

March 3, 2013: Up for Auction: Bill Lynch Shows Vintage Carnival Poster

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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Monkey Speedway Banner

Monkey Speedway Banner “The Race” by Sigler Studios, circa 1950s. 248″ x 96″. Mosby & Co Auctions, November 29, 2014.

Vintage monkey speedway banners by Sigler Studios, sideshow banners by Fred Johnson, and shrunken head and mummy gaffs by Homer Tate are among the midway artifacts up for auction at Mosby & Co. Auctions’ November 29th live and online sale. A selection of carnival games that have disappeared from the midway will also be in the sale. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

“The Monkey Speedway ‘The Start’ and ‘The Race’ are the two best Sigler banners we have ever handled,” said Mosby’s owner Keith Spurgeon, who noted that it was probably painted by Jack Sigler Sr. The banners drew people over to a midway attraction that was popular on carnivals through the 1950s and 60s. Trained monkeys in little metal cars raced around a wooden track while customers (more…)

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Zola the Wizard

Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. This early 20th century sideshow banner advertising “Zola the Wizard” will be on the auction block this weekend at Slotin Folk Art Auction. Phone and online bidding is available for the sale in Buford, Georgia. The pre-sale estimate is $1,000-$2,000 for the piece, which measures over 10 feet high by 6-1/2 feet wide.

Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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

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New Yokr Aquarium Mural

Detail of Mural at New York Aquarium After Removal. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Back in March, the New York Aquarium’s popular mural on the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 8th Street was partially taken down due to the poor condition of the wall. Two-thirds of the approximately 211-foot-long mural was removed. We were waiting to see what would happen at the site before writing about it, but no work has been observed since then.

The frequently photographed mural depicts such Coney Island landmarks as the Parachute Jump, Cyclone and Wonder Wheel along with tidbits of historical info and quotes such as George C Tilyou’s famous line “If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.” Details that were removed include Dreamland’s Iron Tower, a capsule from Astroland’s Skyride, and scenes of undersea life. The artwork was painted in 2006.

New York Aquarium Mural

New York Aquarium: Reconstruction of Crumbling Wall Aquarium Required Removal of Mural

Several readers have emailed to ask if the mural will be repainted after repairs to the wall. “The mural is being taken down for safety reasons,” WCS spokesperson Barbara Russo replied to a query from ATZ. “I’ll give you more updates as I have them.” Word from the Aquarium staff is no decision has yet been made.

Mural at New York Aquarium

Detail of Mural at New York Aquarium After Removal. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

According to the Mural Locator website, the seaside mural was a pro bono project taken on by artist Thanh X Tran and VSA Partners.

Working on a very tight deadline, a four-person team completed the illustration using Adobe Illustrator and stock photos as tracing references. In partnership with Colossal Media—one of the last sign painting companies in New York—we transferred the complicated design onto the wall’s surface. Over one hundred volunteers painted the mural (approximately 15 x 211 feet) in the span of a week, to the delight of Coney Island’s locals.

New Yokr Aquarium Mural

The Aquarium’s Coney Island Mural was a Popular Spot for Musicians. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 5, 2013: Ghost Signs on Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue

June 1, 2013: If Paris Is France, Coney Island, between June and September, Is the World

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

June 1, 2011: Photo Album: Street Art Down by the Coney Island Bowery

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