"Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008" makes its only Southwest stop in San Antonio.
“We are familiar with the phenomenon of amusement parks like Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld in San Antonio, but Coney Island is the granddaddy of them all,” Dr. William J. Chiego, director of the McNay Art Museum, says in a press release. “This is a fun show and it is a departure for the McNay. It is the first exhibition that I can think of that really delves so much into the material culture of the time, and fine artists who were inspired by it.
Organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, "Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008" utilizes American art and work from public and private collections not often seen. Visitors can expect to be immersed in Coney Island culture "through memorabilia, sound recordings and film clips, including documentaries and popular films."
Artists include impressionist William Merritt Chase and John Henry Twachtman to modern and contemporary photographers Diane Arbus and Walker Evans, Red Grooms, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Reginald Marsh, Joseph Stella, and Swoon and George Tooker.
"From the carousel animals that are now recognized as a branch of folk art, to banners done as part of side shows — meant to last or not meant to last — these are survivors of an era rather than art that museums traditionally collect," Chiego says. "Through fine arts and vernacular arts you get a full sense of what it was like, what it has been, and how it has changed over the decades.“
"Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008," runs from May 11 to September 11.
An exhibit exploring the cultural symbol that was Coney Island before decades of decline after Astroland Amusement Park closed through more than 140 objects, including paintings, circus posters, photographs and more, arrives at the McNay Art Museum on May 11.