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Posts Tagged ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’

Mummified Six Fingered Witch Hand & Giant Stag Beetle by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Mummified Six Fingered Witch Hand & Giant Stag Beetle by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

For the past three years the glass cabinets at the Coney Island branch of the Brooklyn Public Library have showcased a rotating display of artwork that befits Coney Island’s history as host to oddities and curiosities from around the world. If you haven’t seen Takeshi Yamada’s long-running “Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities” yet, the exhibition is on view through Dec. 31 at the Mermaid Avenue library. [Dec. 19 Update: we received an e-mail from Yamada with the good news that the Cabinet of Curiosities show has been extended for another year –through December 31, 2010— at the Coney Island Library.]

Skull of the Sea Dragon by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Skull of the Sea Dragon by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When I stopped by during Halloween week, the curiosities included a mummified six-fingered witch’s hand, a cat frog (“There are about a dozen species of frogs with whiskers in this world”), samurai warrior horseshoe crab mask, three-eyed human skull, giant sea dragon’s skull (purportedly “discovered” by Yamada on the beach in 1790), a Nuclear Radiation Giant Stag Beetle of Bikini Atoll, and fancifully labeled cans of Coney Island brand King Tarantula and Coelacanth. “An Extra Fancy Living Fossil.” Oh, yum!…

T Rex Bone, NYC Giant Subway Bug & Coney Island Fancy Canned Goods by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

T Rex Bone, NYC Giant Subway Bug & Coney Island Fancy Canned Goods by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art and is Grand Champion of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his curiosities including some that might be considered controversial. The two-headed babies exhibited this summer in his “Baby Museum” at Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement area are rogue taxidermied artifacts made from his own skin, says Yamada. [Scroll down to “Comments” for details.]

Artist Takeshi Yamada's Freak Baby Show in Coney Island's Dreamland, Summer 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Artist Takeshi Yamada's Freak Baby Show in Coney Island's Dreamland, Summer 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Japanese-born artist and longtime Neptune Avenue resident is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. In the summer, you’re apt to find Yamada clad in a black tuxedo and Mardi Gras beads strolling the Boardwalk with his sea rabbit Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail. On November 15, he’ll be defending his Grand Master title at the 4th Annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at the Bell House in Gowanus. In the meantime, you can visit Yamada in his studio and get a peek at his Fiji mermaid, two headed baby, dog-headed spider and other sideshow gaff art via this video from Brooklyn Cable Access TV

Takeshi Yamada’s “Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities”
Coney Island Library, 1901 Mermaid Ave (at W 19th St), Coney Island, Brooklyn, 718-265-3220. Through December 31, 2010 June 28, 2011. The library is a five-minute walk from the Stillwell Avenue subway terminal. Check library hours here

This exhibition closed on June 28, 2011. Please visit Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders flickr photostream to view his work.

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November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest

December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada

October 27, 2010: Oct 29 at Coney Island Library: Dragon and Mermaid Show & Tell with Takeshi Yamada

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