I finally visited Coney Island. Interested in the site’s history, we went to the Coney Island Museum (which also houses the Side Show, where tattooed punks and burlesque fire-eaters find gainful employment). It’s a very small museum, but worth the $5 admission fee if you’re a fan of:
• outsized theatrical productions (a wall of photos documents the over-the-top performances that Coney Island was once known for, each one with hundreds of actors in Biblical disaster scenes),
• graphic design (each ride featured their own beautifully printed, die cut tickets),
• hand painted signs, which lined the rises of the stairwell,
• tchotchkes (historical souvenirs included flip books and a pennant flag, a shape I’ve been working with a lot!),
• funhouse mirrors (some things never get old), and last but not least,
• artist-created museums. Like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, CA, parts of the Coney Island Museum seems largely the work and invention of one Aaron Beebe, an artist who lovingly created a cosmorama (like a cyclorama, but not all the way round) of the great Dreamland fire.
My favorite part was a series of vintage postcards in velvet-lined displays set into the wall. Flip a switch, and a light comes on, revealing the postcards’ delicate illustrations of historical Coney Island scenes. Flip the switch again, and the postcard becomes back-lit. This is the postcards’ ingenious second view: the same scene at night, illuminated by electric lamps and moonlight! Tiny die cuts form colored paper windows that glow when backlit. It’s brilliant, and preceded, unknowingly, my Lens Flare (Miniature Multiple) project.
I couldn’t find pictures of the backlit postcards, but enjoy these, via astropop.com:
For more postcard images, visit astropop.com/coney/.