A Historical Meets Contemporary View of Coney Island’s People, Rituals, and Architecture


Blending historical photographs from the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection and the works of nine contemporary artists, Coney Island examines the people, rituals, and iconic architecture of the slice of carnivalesque paradise for New Yorkers, tourists, and artists. The exhibit at the Valentine Museum of Art, which includes over 90 prints and paintings, is open through March 11.

Although Coney Island’s popularity declined after World War II, with some of the park falling prey to years of neglect, events like the Mermaid parade and Tribute to the Ancestors continue to make the seaside attraction a curiosity and compelling community.

Many of the artists in Coney Island have been working there since the late 1970s. Artists in the exhibit include famed street photographer Jamel Shabazz; Don Burmeister, the executive editor of the New York Photo Review; and Hazel Hankin, who was a member of the Coney Island Hysterical Society in the 1980s — a a pioneering troupe of visual artists that created art in, for, and about Coney Island.

Luna Park night view, c. 193020 x 24 inch Archival inkjet printReproduction of an original 6 x 8 inch print from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle photography collection at the BrooklynPublic Library – Brooklyn Collection

Norman BordenNo Diving , 201014 x 19” image on 17 x 22” paperArchival Pigment Print

Don BurmeisterConey Island Pier SE, 199730 inches x 30 inchesArchival Pigment Print

Greg FruxPlayland, 200416 x 12 inchesOil on Canvas

Hazel HankinSuper Skooter12×18″ image on 17×22” paperArchival Pigment Print

Marc KehoeSpookhouse Riders, 198824 x 36 inchesOil on Canvas

Ron MeiselAstroland Teacups, 200710 x 26 inchesArchival Pigment Print

Larry RacioppoDemolition of the Thunderbolt, 200015 x 19 inchesArchival Pigment Print

John RossiDragon’s Cave Entrance, 19798 1/2 x 13 inchesArchival Pigment Print

Jamel ShabbazFeeling the Rhythm, 201411 x 14 inchesArchival Pigment Print