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Posts Tagged ‘Dreamland Artist Club’

Luna Park Lights at Jones Walk

Luna Park Lights at Jones Walk, Coney Island. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

This weekend, Deno’s Kiddie Park and Ruby’s Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk will open for the 2014 season, to be followed by next week’s official Palm Sunday Opener for the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and the rest of the amusements. The park and concession owners are busy getting ready, but by the time we went for a stroll on Wednesday evening around 8 pm, almost everyone had gone home for the night. Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk were lit up but eerily deserted.

Wonder Wheel and A Wish

Wonder Wheel and A Wish on the Bowery, Coney Island. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Wednesday was our first glimpse of the Wonder Wheel’s cars back up on the wheel. The freshly painted cars were rolled out of winter storage and put up on Tuesday. We missed it this year, but the annual ritual is the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the red, blue and white cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes.

Jones Walk Bowery Coney Island

Jones Walk at the Bowery, Coney Island. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

This mural at the corner of Jones Walk and the Bowery is one of the few remaining works of Steve Powers and Creative Time’s Dreamland Artist Club. It’s still holding its own. John “Crash” Matos painted the rolldown gate of the Snack Bar in 2005, but the work of Ronnie Cutrone, which was just above it, was stripped and taken away a couple of years ago, as were the rest of the signs on Jones Walk.

Miss Coney Island

The Dancing Doll ‘Miss Coney Island,’ West 12th St. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On West 12th Street, the feet of the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and her dancing cats were peeking out from beneath the partially open metal shutter. Miss Coney as well as the window featuring the miniature rides of “Coney Island Always” will be open this weekend. They’re located on West 12th Street next to the Coney Island History Project and a few steps from the entrance to Wonder Wheel Park. Still 25¢ to Fall in LOVE!

Clown Game on West 12th Street

Clown Game on West 12th Street, Coney Island. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Next door, Feed the Clown and the other independently owned games were brightly lit and the only place open on the block, though not yet open for business. The joints were being flashed for Opening Day. A group of marionette prizes danced in frenzied unison. Their strings were being manipulated by an unseen force. Merry-go-round music played. We made a movie (Stay tuned.) Did you ever notice that clowns look even creepier covered in plastic tarps?

Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize

Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize, West 12th Street, Coney Island. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

At Ruby’s Bar on the Boardwalk, the newly refinished floor was glowing. A solitary worker, who was about to leave for the night, opened the door so we could get a photo. Coney Island’s oldest bar and its famous jukebox opens on Saturday for the season. Cheers!

Newly Refinished Floor at Ruby's Bar

Newly Refinished Floor at Ruby’s Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Wednesday, the Parachute Jump was lit blue for Autism Awareness Day. There was a ceremony at 6:30 in the evening, but by the time we got there no one was on the Boardwalk. Slivers of light glimmered beneath the metal shutter of Place to Beach Bar. Workers opened the side door, ready to call it a night. A crescent moon was suspended in the sky over the Jump.

Parachute Jump and Place to Beach Bar

Parachute Jump and Place to Beach Bar, Coney Island Boardwalk. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Currently, the Parachute Jump is lit nightly from 4:30pm until midnight or later. The landmarked tower’s 8,000 LEDS are illuminated year-round like the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. The light show changes according to the day and the season. It was specially programmed with a “Happy Holidays” message and Christmas-y colors by Luna Park. In celebration of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl win, the Jump was lit in sea green and blue light, and it was green on St Patrick’s Day.

Parachute Jump Lit Blue for Autism Awareness

Parachute Jump Lit Blue for Autism Awareness Day. April 2, 3014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for Coney Island’s Opening Day

December 23, 2013: Coney’s Parachute Jump & Wonder Wheel Lit for Christmas

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Steve ESPO Powers

New signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on Coney Island’s 12th St by Steve ‘ESPO’ Powers. Photo via twitter

Over Memorial Day, we saw artist Steve Powers in Coney Island and mentioned how much of the signage for his Dreamland Artist Club project had been painted over or demolished due to redevelopment. The most recent loss was the signage on Jones Walk, where the works created by Dreamland artists in 2004 were stolen or scrapped when the game operators moved out after losing their leases. The sole surviving “coin” from Toland Grinnell’s Dime Toss sign was donated to the Coney Island History Project, which is next door to some of the relocated games.

Powers told ATZ he was going to create new signs for Miss Coney Island, Skin the Wire and other games that moved to West 12th Street from the Walk. Today the artist unveiled the supercool signs shown above via twitter. “Watch Her Dance Till the End of Love” is for the automaton “Miss Coney Island.” The dancing doll did an exclusive interview with ATZ last month about the big move and the marvelous makeover that has fans saying she looks 30 years younger. “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” are next door to Skin the Wire and other whimsical games located on 12th Street just off the Boardwalk. The new signs will be installed next week.

Skin the Wire on West 12th Street is one of the booths getting new signs by Steve Powers. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Gyro Corner Clam Bar

Gyro Corner Clam Bar - Coney Island. June 10, 2008. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

Our fave photo of Gyro Corner Clam Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk is this night shot of the 12th Street side by silversalty. It’s lit up like a Chelsea art gallery waiting for reception-goers on a Thursday night. The photographer’s Coney Island set on flickr is rich with night images of such vanished wonders as Faber’s Fascination marquee, Astroland’s Breakdance and M & M Gyro’s signage. Gyro Corner Clam Bar will close and its hand-painted signage will become part of Coney’s vanished landscape after November 4, 2011.

If you live too far away to visit, check out the hundreds of photos on flickr as well as several in Roadside Art Online’s fascinating Gyros Project. We’ll miss these whimsical depictions of anthropomorphized clam waiters serving up plates of clams and “The Gyros Sandwich glorified.” Coney Island’s vernacular signage is widely appreciated as Art and Americana, though it doesn’t fit Luna Park operator Valerio Ferrari’s Europeanized “vision” for the new Boardwalk.

The 12th Street side of Gyro Corner is where the clam bar of “Hey Joey!” fame resides. When the mural was painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire for Steve Powers’ Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, it won acclaim from art critics. “Combining F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic 1920s glamour with the tough stylings of L.A.’s Mexican street gangs,” wrote Andrew Hodges in The Brooklyn Rail. The real-life “Joey Clams” was interviewed by The New York Times:

Joey Pesca, the manager of the popular clam bar, also known as the Gyro Corner, at the Boardwalk and West 12th Street, said the wall sign painted for him by the Gents of Desire – otherwise known as Jonathan Bleser and Alexis Ross – has made his business a destination for art lovers and has given him a new appreciation for artists.

“They were actually a joy to be around,” Mr. Pesca, also known as Joey Clams, said of the Gents. “And at the end they added this little thing that says, ‘Hey Joey!,’ which has made me a little famous around here.”

Alas, we must now say goodbye to “Hey Joey!,” as we already did to Steve Powers’ Shoot Out the Star signs at the Henderson Building and Rita Ackermann’s mural on the Feltman’s Building. Goodbye to the flashy front-of-the-show vernacular signage at Gyro Corner and Paul’s Daughter and Steve’s Grill House. The new Boardwalk storefronts will be branded. We expect the facades and signage to look more uniform as well. It’s a harbinger of the City’s vision of a single operator Coney Island.

We’ll post photos of Gyro Corner’s Boardwalk signage before this series ends when the seven Boardwalk Mom and Pops vacate the premises on November 4th. ATZ is saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo (or two) a day. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the photos. Many thanks to Adrian Kinloch, who frequently photographs Coney Island, for this close-up of “Hey Joey!” from his superb Coney Island Design set on flickr.

Coney Island Signage

Coney Island Hand Painted Signage. December 3, 2006. Photo © Adrian Kinloch via http://www.adriankinloch.net/photography. All rights reserved

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October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

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October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

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Over the weekend ATZ contributing photographer and Coney Island resident Bruce Handy/”Pablo 57″ took some lyrical photos of the Rita Ackermann mural. The artwork is on the west wall of the soon-to-be demolished Feltman’s Building. You can view the complete flickr set as a slideshow here.

Detail of Mural

Freaky Sideshow Girls: Detail of Dreamland Artist Club Mural by Rita Ackermann on the soon-to-be Demolished Feltman’s Kitchen (Home of the Hot Dog), Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

As ATZ reported last week in “Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition” (January 19, 2010), the last remnant of the hot dog inventor’s empire is set to be demolished to make way for new amusements on the City-owned “Parcel A”—the former Astroland site. The Ackermann mural, which was valued at $250K by Dreamland Artist Club founder Steve Powers, is likely to be demolished along with the building. (“Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg“)

Photographing the mural wasn’t an easy job, but somebody had to do it. ATZ found very few pix of this mural on the web. We’re grateful that Bruce Handy documented details of the Jones Walk artwork before it is gone forever. Bruce used a tripod and held the camera up in the air to take a photo of the complete mural.

“The problem is the mural is in a bad spot for a good photo,” says the photographer. “It’s too high and the angle is bad. To get a good photo you need a zoom lens standing on W 12th, but you also need a straight line of sight. You need to be perpendicular to the wall that’s why you need to be so far away. The ideal photo would be if someone drove a car up there and stood on the roof. That’s how Ansel Adams got all his great photos.”

feltman's

Dreamland Artist Club Mural by Rita Ackermann on the soon-to-be demolished Feltman’s Kitchen (Home of the Hot Dog), Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr


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

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In our recent post about Coney Island’s soon-to-be-demolished Feltman’s kitchen, one of the photos taken from Jones Walk shows the mural on the west wall of the historic building. Take another look because the Rita Ackermann mural is said to be worth $250,000 and the building is not long for this world. Yesterday the City’s contractors were observed removing the roof of the hot dog inventor’s kitchen.

Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Rita Ackermann Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ackermann painted the mural in 2004 for the Dreamland Artist Club says the art project’s founder and lead artist Steve Powers.

“I co-curated the Dreamland Artist Club and have happy memories of working with Rita,” Powers told ATZ. “Although I would estimate the value of the mural at $250,000, it is but a fraction of what Steeplechase Park, Luna Park and a hundred other monuments in Coney Island have been worth. The mural may meet its doom but its memory will remind us how dumb progress can be sometimes.”

It’s ironic that public art which was created in response to real estate development changing the landscape and character of Coney Island is itself endangered by redevelopment. Powers teamed up with Creative Time, the non-profit public art agency, to bring artists to Coney Island to create new signage for the stands along the Walk and the Bowery. The first year’s funding was $80,000. When the murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.” Powers own work, including the Cyclone roller coaster seats and “Bump Your Ass Off” signs for the Eldorado Bumper Cars are thankfully still with us and look like they’ve been here forever.

Detail of Rita Ackermann Mural and Wonder Wheel Signage.. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Detail of Rita Ackermann Mural and Wonder Wheel Signage.. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Brooklyn Rail’s review of the Dreamland Artist Club included this description of Ackermann’s mural: “With an aura of danger and seduction, snake charmers, acrobats, and sword throwers return to Coney Island in Rita Ackermann’s 50-foot mural above Jones Walk. Graphically rendered in black, white, and golden yellow against the background of the Cyclone’s sweeping arcs, Ackermann’s femme fatales twirl and pose high above the crowds promoting a demonic carnival of darker, hidden attractions.”

ATZ contacted Rita Ackermann via her gallery, but we haven’t yet received a response. If you happen to know the artist, please tell her to get ready to add the word “demolished” to her resume.

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January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

January 11, 2010: Steeplechase Pool, Zip Coaster Sites to Be De-Mapped for Housing

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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