Brooklyn Museum: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull)

My recent visit to the Coney Island Art Walls, which I wrote about here, reminded me that the Brooklyn Museum currently has an exhibition by one of the Art Wall artists, Stephen Powers. That exhibition, titled Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a SeaGull), features some intriguing art that takes the form of unique, brightly colored and cleverly worded hand-painted signs. I briefly mentioned this exhibition when I wrote about another, larger Coney Island exhibition at the museum, a richly nuanced exhibition that has since concluded. Fortunately, for those who would like to check out the Stephen Powers exhibition, there is still time – Coney Island Is Still Dreamland continues through August 21, 2016.

Powers got his start as a graffiti artist, eventually moving to New York City. He is currently based in Brooklyn. More than 15 years ago, Powers began transitioning from a graffiti artist to a full-time studio-based artist. Since then, his work has been shown in galleries and museums both in the United States and internationally. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition, which contains some excellent examples of Powers’s artistic work, as well as that of some of his artistic collaborators from his ICY Signs art business, is a treat for the eyes. The work also demonstrates some of Powers’s inspiration for his own work, the traditional sign-painting form once popular in Coney Island’s beach community.

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The central part of the exhibition is a square room with very high ceilings and lots of light – the four corners of the room have large collages of signs that stretch all the way to the ceiling. Nearby walls and additional small gallery rooms contain some additional artwork that’s part of the exhibition. Sitting in the middle of the main room is an observation viewer – one of the type found at picturesque tourist sites that often require the visitor to feed it coins in order to function.

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Here are some close-up views of some of the work in the exhibition. As you can see from these views, the closer you look at Stephen Powers’s work, the more there is to notice! (On rare occasions you may actually catch Powers working on a piece at the exhibition, although I’ve always managed to just miss him.)

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This final close-up  photos features some characters painted by one of Powers’s collaborators, Timothy Curtis, as well as some others that I haven’t identified along the edges.

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Want to see Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (For a Seagull) for yourself? Hurry to the Brooklyn Museum before the exhibition ends on August 21! If traveling by subway, take the 2 or 3 trains to the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop. (While you are at that station, check out the excellent subway art, which I previously wrote about here.) The Museum is located adjacent to the subway station. The museum also has parking for those wishing to drive. The museum has provided more specific directions for driving and parking on its website here.

6 thoughts on “Brooklyn Museum: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull)

  1. The sayings are funny: Our hour is up again, Paradise by the slice….
    I was wondering why the curator chose to out them so high? You are right you need a chance to get up close and see the smaller parts that make up the whole.

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    1. It must take a lot of creativity to come up with all of these sayings, I think. It is interesting to see the exhibition in person. Although it is impossible to read some of the highest stuff, you’d be surprised at what you can see in person rather than in the photos.

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  2. Did you use the telescope? I confirmed yet again that I am a word person, by reading just about everything (I don’t like it when paintings are called “untitled”). My favourite is “society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it”, especially in the light of horrifying indigenous incarceration rates in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did check out the telescope, although as usual my glasses make it difficult for me to see well through it! I’m a word person as well, which is why I think I find Stephen Powers’s work so interesting. Some of it is fun and tongue-in-cheek, but other phrases have really deep meaning, like the one that caught your attention. I’ve just been reading about the Australian issue in the past few days, especially as it relates to youth incarceration. The United States has some similar problems with our criminal justice system, especially when it comes to over-incarceration of people of other races and ethnicities.

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      1. Our statistics are in fact worse than yours. I despair of my country. The bloke named to head the royal commission into juvenile justice in the NT called tearing through a community camped near Alice Springs “hooning” and spoke of the “good character” of the same young men who brutally killed a young aboriginal man. Our track record with indigenous people is shameful, from arrival till now. There was a deaths in custody royal commission 25 years ago and key recommendations were ignored. Seems to be the fate of Royal commissions. Sorry to rant.

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      2. I always have hope when people respond to injustice with outrage and calls for change. As bad as things have been in the NT in the past, I hope that the recent coverage of what’s been happening leads to real reform this time, and that people don’t forget about the problems.

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