Named for one of the famous amusement parks of Coney Island’s heyday, The Dreamland Artist Club began in the spring of 2003 when artist Steve Powers and Creative Time, with the help of “Mayor” Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA, invited a group of artists and local businesses in Coney Island’s amusement area to work together. Dreamland consists of more than twenty-five emerging and established artists who have repainted rides and created custom signs, murals, and scenic backdrops for a range of Coney Island attractions. As a long-time admirer of the fading craft of sign painting, Powers had looked for inspiration in the tradition of colorful, hand-painted signage and advertisements that date back more than a century in the community. “Coney Island,” he said, “is the most beautiful place in New York City, and we are dedicated to keeping it that way.” Like Powers, each of the participating artists has a personal, social, or aesthetic interest in the visual culture of the area; many live in Brooklyn or greater New York, though some have come from Chicago and Los Angeles to participate. The project makes no distinction between “fine artists” and “commercial artists”—categories that hold little value in this playground for the people. With few exceptions, the pieces comprising Dreamland have been created in the service of advertising for their host businesses, lending a new context to many of the artists whose works are usually viewed in galleries and museums. With a dramatic range of styles and practices, The Dreamland Artist Club offers a sampling of this era’s artistry and imagination to Coney Island, and proposes a new model for creative urban revitalization strategies that both compliments and builds upon the existing character of this legendary New York neighborhood.

Anne Pasternak, Executive Director
Peter Eleey, Curator & Producer

About Coney Island USA