The Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

“Fast Bumper”, Eagan and Marano

The Countess and I popped around the corner over the weekend to catch The Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society exhibition at 440 Gallery.

Brooklyn natives Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano formed The Coney Island Hysterical Society in 1982, making them, along with Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun and the Coney Island History Project’s Charles Denson, among the earliest pioneers of the current Coney Island renaissance.

Marano was once a studio assistant to Robert Indiana and works a lot with cut paper and collage. Eagan makes paintings that are in part architectural sculptures. Throughout the ‘80’s, they worked on several projects in Coney, including sign and ride painting, a 2500 square foot mural titled Steeplechase Park- Come Back!, and ultimately Spookhouse, in which they transformed a derelict dark ride into a “Ride-Through Gallery in the Dark”, employing the talents of some fifteen artists and community youth. This history is chronicled in the exhibition in text and photographs.

The bulk of the small exhibition at 440 Gallery are works by the two artists inspired by different landmarks and aspects of Coney Island’ amusement district. For example, several simulated concession stand confections by Marano (taffy, jelly sticks, popcorn), made of cut paper and cardboard, the kingpin of which is Giant Lolly, a lollipop as big as a human bein, which bears the legend “World’s Largest Lollipop”. Or this one by Eagan, entitle Pavilion of Fun:

The exhibition is on view through November 25, and many of the works are for sale, some of them at startling affordable prices.

For more info go here: http://www.440gallery.com/Exhibitions

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