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Posts Tagged ‘Philomena Marano’

It’s only 25 days till Christmas and 111 days till Coney Island’s Opening Day on Palm Sunday, which is March 20 next year! Know somebody who can’t wait? Get ’em a Coney Island-themed gift that can be enjoyed year round.

Coney Island. Yale University Press

Coney Island. Yale University Press

At the top of ATZ’s Coney Island gift guide is the sumptuous catalog ($50) for Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland. The traveling exhibit opened this month at the Brooklyn Museum and runs through March 13. Published by Yale Press, this beautifully designed art book — 304 pages, with 228 color plates and 77 b/w illustrations– is a pleasure to own, whether you live close enough to catch the show or not. Essays by exhibition curator Robin Jaffee Frank; John Kasson, whose book Amusing the Million inspired the title of this blog; film scholars Charles Musser and Josh Glick; and Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson on the future of Coney Island are illuminating.

Ci Gift Guide John Huntington Calendar

John Huntington’s Coney Calendar

Enjoy Coney Island’s beach, boardwalk and amusement parks 365 days next year with John Huntington’s 2016 Coney Island calendar ($20). The Brooklyn-based photographer crowdsourced votes on his best shots and successfully raised $3,261 with 62 backers on Kickstarter to fund the project. Among our faves are Scream Zone’s gate on a snowy night (January), Wonder Wheel Park’s midway (July), and people watching fireworks on the beach (August). Visit John’s website to preview and buy the calendar or prints of the photos.

Famous Nathan now on DVD

Famous Nathan now on DVD

Fans of Nathan’s, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, will enjoy Lloyd Handwerker’s documentary about his grandfather, the founder of Nathan’s Famous hot dog empire. Recently released on DVD ($24.95), the documentary is told through home movies, archival photos and footage, the filmmaker’s interviews with a colorful cast of characters including family members and former Nathan’s workers, and the voice of Famous Nathan himself. As we wrote in a review when the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, the cadence of Nathan’s voice and his story reverberate in the imagination even after the film is over: “I want to go to America. I was dreaming about it.” In addition to telling an insider’s history of this Coney Island institution, the film is a wonderful family memoir.

Cyclone Pendant by Philomena Marano

Cyclone Pendant by Philomena Marano

Artist Philomena Marano, who is known for her bold and colorful cut paper collages of Coney Island’s amusement rides and signs has wearable art and wall art for sale in her Etsy shop “PhiloMania.” Stylish pendants featuring her art prints of Coney’s landmark rides and iconic signage are $30. Souvenir prints made from her American Dreamland series are $25. While the best selection is online, Philomena’s work is also available in Coney Island at Brooklyn Beach Shop and Coney Island USA, as well as at City Lore in the East Village, where her art is featured in the exhibit “Boardwalk Renaissance.”

Coney Island Carousel

Coney Island Carousel, oil on panel, by Nancy Prusinowski

Coney Island USA’s Sodom by the Sea Salon showcases the work of more than 75 artists, including painters Marc Kehoe, Eric March, Nancy Prusinowski, Chris Spinelli and Morgan Taylor; watercolorists Rose Nizami, Amanda Reilly, and Johanna Gargiulo Sherman; illustrator Sarah Beetson; and photographer members of the People’s Playground Paparazzi. The pieces range in price from $50 to $2,300, with the majority in the $200-$400 range. The free exhibit runs through February 7 at CIUSA’s Shooting Gallery/Arts Annex, 1214 Surf Avenue, and is open weekends, 1pm-4:30pm. Head next door or online to CIUSA’s gift shop for more art, as well as clothing, glassware and souvenirs.

Coney Mugs at Lola Star Boutique

Coney Mugs at Lola Star Boutique

Lola Star’s souvenir boutiques in Coney Island have a satellite location at Rockaway Beach as well as an online store stocked with her unique designs. Coney-themed mugs graced with swimmers, lovebirds, anchors or sayings like “Everything I Know I Learned in Brooklyn” cost $10. Stocking stuffers include a Coney Island snowglobe ($8), an authentic Brooklyn hot dog onesie for the baby ($20), and Lola Star T-shirts galore for kids of all ages and adults ($20). 1205 Boardwalk West, 718-975-0583.

Warriors and mermaid tees at Brooklyn Beach Shop

Warriors and mermaid tees at Brooklyn Beach Shop

From November through April, Coney Island’s beach belongs to the Polar Bears, but souvenirs of summer can still be found at Brooklyn Beach Shop on the Boardwalk. Warriors, mermaid, and various other Coney-themed tees come in an array of designs and colors. You can also find books such as Coney Island and Astroland by Charles Denson and Michael Stallings’ 500-piece jigsaw puzzle depicting summer at the amusement park. 1223 Boardwalk West, 718-676-0939.

Marshmallow treats and candy apples at Williams Candy

Marshmallow treats and candy apples at Williams Candy

Williams Candy, Coney Island’s last remaining Mom and Pop candy shop since Philip’s lost their space in Stillwell Terminal, is owned by the Agrapides family and has been on Surf Avenue for over 75 years. Their homemade marshmallow treats ($12 per dozen) and candy apples ($18 per dozen) are the quintessential Coney Island dessert after a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous, which is next door. While there is no mail order, Williams will cater your party and is open daily year round. Our favorites are their caramel marshmallow sticks with toasted coconut and chocolate caramel marshmallow sticks with chocolate sprinkles. 1318 Surf Avenue, 718-372-0302.

Polar Bear Plunge

I Did It! New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Now that we’re past Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday, and Cyber Monday is nearly over, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. A membership or donation to support one of Coney Island’s non-profit attractions — New York Aquarium, Coney Island History Project and Coney Island USA–is a gift that gives back all year long.

Start off the New Year by joining the 112-year-old Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s January 1st Polar Bear Dip at 1pm. This hugely popular event is also a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a summer vacation. On New Year’s Day 2015, the Club raised more than $70K for the charity and they hope to meet or beat that amount in 2016. You and your friends can register online now and pledge a donation or help other participants meet their fundraising goals here. On the day of the event, the Polar Bears will also have a table on the boardwalk, where you can register for the Plunge and buy Polar Bear Hoodies and T-shirts.

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Coney Island Hysterical Society

Richard Eagan, Gene Manzione and Philomena Marano at the Spookhouse in Coney Island, 1984. Photo Courtesy of Coney Island Hysterical Society.

Wouldn’t it be cool to take over a derelict amusement ride and refurbish it as an art project? “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” a new exhibit at City Lore, celebrates a time in the mid-1980’s when a group of young artists were able to do just that.

In 1981, Brooklyn artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. One of their projects was the transformation of the disused Dragon’s Cave ride on the Bowery into the Spookhouse, billed as “a ride through gallery in the dark – a unique blend of art and amusement.” Admission was $1.00-$1.50, which wasn’t bad considering a ride on the Cyclone cost two bucks back then.

Boardwalk Renaiisance

The art of Spookhouse at Boardwalk Renaissance, an exhibit at City Lore thru March 13, 2016. Photo © Tricia Vita

Artwork by Eagan and Marano, and scenic designs by Bill Stabile, as well as paintings by Marc Kehoe and photos by Hazel Hankin documenting the Spookhouse’s 1984-1986 run are on view at City Lore. According to a vintage poster, the ride featured works by 15 artists plus students of I.S. 291, and “Reconstruction and Revitalization” by a crew of eight. Ten artists were invited to paint each of the original 1940’s Messmore & Damon cars. Among them was Nancy Prusinowski, who reminisced with ATZ about shunning a spooky theme in lieu of a pastoral scene similar to that on a carousel chariot. The eye-catcher was a Cupid holding a Nathan’s hot dog, a hat tip to Nathan’s, which owned the building and was across the way.

It’s remarkable that folks without amusement biz chops were able to preserve and operate an old Coney dark ride, even for a few years. It could not be done today. After Astroland closed in 2008, some friends were actually talking about how we could bring back Dante’s Inferno. Of course it was not feasible.

Marc Kehoe Coney Island Hysterical Society

Marc Kehoe painting ‘It’s Spooky’ mural on exterior wall of the Spookhouse, 1985. Photo courtesy of Coney Island Hysterical Society

“Those were very different times,” says Philomena Marano in an e-mail. “All the right ingredients magically fell into place: Coney Island was abandoned, Sporty Kaufman wanted out of his Dragon’s Cave Ride, we were rowdy, creative and had a vision and Nathan’s Ken Handwerker was keen on launching a revitalization. I must say that all of the time we were working on Spookhouse I was strangely aware that something like this could never happen again. In the canons of weird and bizarre ‘Projects & goals,’ it’s surely at the top.”

In a fantastic example of synchronicity, the Spookhouse also featured set pieces designed by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein’s Off-Broadway play Spookhouse, which were nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design in 1984. Fierstein is a childhood friend of Marano, and when the play closed the pieces were donated to Coney’s Spookhouse. When the ride closed due to rising insurance costs, the Skull and the Devil were acquired by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and became part of Spook-A-Rama’s stable of props from defunct dark rides.

Spookhouse Bill Stabile

Scenic Designs by Bill Stabile for Harvey Fierstein’s Spookhouse on exhibit at City Lore.

Thirty years later, all that remains of the Spookhouse are two signs and two cars in private collections, and Stabile’s car, which can be seen in the exhibition, along with a replica of his Giant Skull in park paint, the original of which is on display at the Coney Island History Project as “Skully.”

“We’re happy knowing that a few items survived,” says Marano. “And although they are owned by others we maintain a strong attachment to them. Like they are still ours.”

“Boardwalk Renaissance” also spotlights Coney’s house under the Thunderbolt roller coaster, the World in Wax Musee, shooting galleries, and the early days of Coney Island USA including the first Mermaid Parade.

“Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” City Lore Gallery, 56 East 1st Street, NYC 10003. Exhibit runs through March 13, 2016. Gallery open Wed – Fri, 2pm – 6pm and Sat – Sun, 12pm – 6pm. Closed November 26-29. Free admission.

Boardwalk Renaissance

Boardwalk Renaissance, an exhibit at City Lore. November 7, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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March 13, 2013: Coney Island 2013: New Ghouls Mingle with Old in Rebuilt Spook-A-Rama

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October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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ATZ has featured Philomena Marano’s artwork in the past, but missed seeing this delightful cut-paper animation “Take Me There” (2011) until she posted it on Facebook as a holiday greeting. The short film was produced by Mary Nittolo of The Studio and features music by Carol Lipnik. Marano, whose cut-paper collages and prints celebrate Coney Island’s rides, games and signage, recently moved back to the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst, where she grew up. Childhood train rides to Coney Island inspired the piece, the artist says…

Growing up, I can’t remember ever NOT going to Coney Island. It seemed like we took that elevated train to the beach every day. We’d board the train at the 79th Street station (at that time, early on it was known as the “West End” or “T” line, later it became the B and is now the D), We were just 6 stops away from Stillwell Avenue. The ride seemed so short that in my young mind I imagined that the elevated train was an extension of the roller coaster! One and the same. I lived 1 1/2 blocks from the elevated line and even when we weren’t riding, the rumbling overhead was still the roller coaster, high above New Utrecht Avenue.

Pholomena Marano Wonder WheelMarano’s prints are for sale at Coney Island USA and Tabla Rasa Gallery in Brooklyn and Smart Clothes Gallery and City Lore in Manhattan. Pendants featuring images from the artist’s Coney Island series are available online via her Philo-mania store.

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October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

September 19, 2010: Art of the Day: Play Fascination by Philomena Marano

October 4, 2009: The Wonder of Artist Philomena Marano’s Wonder Wheel

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THRILLS

THRILLS. Copyright Philomena Marano

“Thrills,” a group show featuring Coney Island and carnival-themed photography and art opens today at Smart Clothes Gallery on the Lower East Side. The artists are Lawrence Berzon, Charles Denson, Jane Dickson, Richard Eagan, Hazel Hankin, Marc Kehoe, Philomena Marano, and Marie Roberts. The reception is tonight from 6-9pm and the show runs through July 28th.

Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt. Photo copyright Hazel Hankin

Photographer Charles Denson is the author of “Coney Island: Lost and Found” and director of the Coney Island History Project. Artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society in the 1980s. Coney Island has also been a longtime source of inspiration for painter Marc Kehoe and photographer Hazel Hankin, who have exhibited with CIHS. Marie Roberts is artist-in-residence at Coney Island USA, where she paints the banners for Sideshows by the Seashore and the Mermaid Parade.

“Thrills” at Smart Clothes Gallery, 154 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Phone 212-627-3276.

Coney Island

Critical Blue © Charles Denson

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August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Coney Island Hysterical Society

Artists Richard Eagan and Philomena on empty Steeplechase Park site, circa 1982 Photo © Coney Island Hysterical Society

On Sunday, November 18th, artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano, who have been collaborating for over 30 years as the Coney Island Hysterical Society, will give a slide talk about their “Hysterical/Historical” work. The above photo from 1982 documents “Souvenir Views of Coney Island,” a “traveling show” that they brought to the then-empty Steeplechase Park site. The free event is at 4:40pm at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue, in Park Slope. Eagan and Marano’s exhibit “Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society,” is on view at the gallery through November 25.

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October 4, 2012: Art of the Day: Coney Island Hysterical Society

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October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Coney Island Hysterical Society

FAST BUMPER by Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano, Coney Island Hysterical Society. Wood construction, paint, hand cut paper and printed paper, 2012

Coney Island currently has three bumper car rides–The Eldorado, the refurbished Astroland ride at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and one at 12th Street Amusements– and once had many more, but artist Richard Eagan says Fast Bumper is not a literal portrait of a particular ride. “It is intended to recall the way rides were retro-fit into buildings re-purposed from the turn of the 20th century,” says Eagan, who has a background in cabinetmaking and architectural sculpture, while his collaborator Philomena Marano brought her expertise in cut paper collage and printmaking to the mixed media piece.

Fast Bumper is among the individual and collaborative Coney Island-inspired works in the exhibition “Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society” opening on October 18 at 440 Gallery in Park Slope. No, we don’t mean Historical Society. Brooklyn-born artists Eagan and Marano have been collaborating since 1981 when they founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that Coney’s amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. Joined by friends and fellow artists, the group took on such projects as the restoration and operation of a dark ride on the Bowery, an homage to souvenir cut out photo boards, and a 2,500 foot mural celebrating the lost glory of Steeplechase Park.

“In Fast Bumper, Richard and I poured in the rowdy and the elegant of Coney Island,” says Philomena, who describes the piece as “a fast and fun colliding joy ride housed inside an elegant Victorian building from Coney’s former life. It reflects our shared sensibilities in so many ways- one in particular is a childhood memory we both recalled of peering into the windows or back door of a closed ride and observing it in quiet darkness, a razor sharp contrast to the ride in motion; like seeing it’s ‘other side,’ the ‘hidden nature of it’s soul. I think this piece also makes reference to a Coney Island truth, sometimes it gleams from the inside and other times from the outside.”

“Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society” runs through November 25 and will also feature special events at 4:40pm on Sundays in November. On November 4, Richard Eagan, who worked as the manager and outside talker for a shark show as well as a game and ride operator, will perform “Alive in the Inside,” his one-man play about his surreal journey through Coney Island. On November 18, Eagan and Marano will present an illustrated talk about the history of their work as the Coney Island Hysterical Society.

“Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society,” October 18 – November 25, 2012 at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, 11215. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-7pm or by appointment. Phone 718-499-3844.

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

July 6, 2012: Photo of the Day: Art on the Move in Coney Island

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Banner painter Marie Roberts in her Studio at Coney Island USA. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Banner painter Marie Roberts in her Studio at Coney Island USA. January 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This weekend, five of our artist friends who live, work or find their inspiration in Coney Island are opening their studios for the Brooklyn Museum’s “GO! Brooklyn” event. The crowd-curated art project asks visitors to register online, “check in” at least five studios in person and vote for three of them. The ten artists who win the most votes will have a shot at being in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. With over 1,700 artists from 45 Brooklyn nabes participating, creating an itinerary is half the fun. To browse the studios and register, visit the project’s website. The open studio weekend is on September 8 and 9, 2012, from 11am until 7pm.

Let our portraits of the People’s Playground’s truly unusual and talented artists be your guide to “Go! Coney Island.”

Marie Roberts is a third-generation Coney Islander who grew up going to Steeplechase Park and listening to her family’s reminiscences of Dreamland. A professor of art at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Marie found her métier painting the vibrantly colorful banners advertising the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. You can view her work 365 days a year on the CIUSA Building at Surf Avenue and 12th Street. Her studio is located on the second floor of the landmark building.

ATZ first met sculptor, painter and performance artist Daniel Blake aka Africasso in 2007 when he exhibited his sculptural mashup of historic Coney Island rides at the Coney Island History Project. The lifelong Coney Island resident will be showing his giraffe sculptures at Marie’s studio this weekend. Marie Roberts, Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Daniel Blake

Africasso’s Art Guitar, Daniel Blake AKA Africasso. June 8, 2008. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Coney Island resident Takeshi Yamada’s Neptune Avenue studio is his Museum of World Wonders. Among the Osaka-born artist’s curious creations are Fiji mermaids, two-headed babies, a dog-headed spider and other sideshow gaff art. The Grand Champion of Taxidermy at the Secret Science Club’s 2006 Carnivorous Nights shows his work in a variety of venues, from traditional art galleries and museums to midway sideshows. The portrait of Takeshi and his freak baby show was taken at Dreamland, the amusement park set up on the former Astroland site in 2009. One of Coney’s most recognizable eccentrics, Takeshi is frequently seen and photographed clad in a black tuxedo strolling the Boardwalk with his sea rabbit Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail. Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders, 1405 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

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, July 12, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Brooklyn artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society in 1981 because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. Joined by like-minded artists and friends the group restored and operated a Spookhouse behind Nathan’s and created an homage to souvenir cut out photo boards. Thirty years later, Eagan and Marano continue to make art “dedicated to keeping the spirit of Coney Island alive” (CIHS motto) in their Gowanus studio.

Richard Eagan AKA Kay Sera with Oceanic Baths at Coney Island Hysterical Society Studio in Gowanus. October 2, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

These portraits were taken in 2010, when ATZ visited Coney Island Hysterical Society’s studio on the Gowanus Artists Studio Tour. “The short hop to combining the Coney work with the exploding architecture was a no-brainer once I accepted that the Coney Island of my childhood was imploding, burning, and would never return,” Eagan said of “Oceanic Baths,” which is not an actual Coney Island place name.

Bensonhurst native Philomena Marano is known for her bold and colorful cut paper collages and prints of Coney’s amusement rides and signs. The Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone, and Parachute Jump as well as shooting galleries and bumper cars are all part of her iconography. Faber’s Fascination, which went dark in 2010, inspired the cut paper piece “Play Fascination” in the portrait.

Coney Island Hysterical Society, 62 18th Street, 3rd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Philomena Marano

Philomena Marano with ‘Play Fascination’ at Coney Island Hysterical Society Studio in Gowanus. October 2, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ...

August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

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

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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