Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sand in Our Shoes. The Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

Brooklyn, NY – The 440 Gallery is pleased to host a unique exhibition of work by Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano, working together for some thirty years as The Coney Island Hysterical Society. Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society will feature individual and collaborative works by Eagan, a founding member of the 440 Gallery, whose architectural evocations of Coney Island are well-known to gallery-goers in New York. His collaborator, Ms. Marano, is an artist in papier collé, or cut and pasted paper: layered and colorful images of light, shadow and motion that illuminate Coney’s buoyant and poignant soul.
Featured in this exhibition will be mixed media works which evoke Coney’s unique pairings of rides and attractions with its vanishing Victorian architecture, its colorful signage and American amusement park whimsy, along with documentation of the Hysterical Society’s early on-site projects.

Fast Bumper, mixed media, 22″x15″

Eagan and Marano’s shared interest in the history and future of America’s venerable amusement beach and their “hysteria” at its decline led them to found The Coney Island Hysterical Society in 1981. They were active in the first wave of artists and performers seeking to preserve and build on the traditions of Coney Island’s historic amusement area. Through a “handmade” newsletter they attracted a following of like-minded Coney Island fans, which grew to over 500 member/subscribers. Their early collaborations were the first Hysterical Society public art projects, including the Coney Island Spookhouse, a ride-through gallery in the dark; Photo Board Walk, an interactive exhibit of artist-created souvenir photo boards; and Steeplechase, Come Back, a 2500 square-foot mural evoking Coney’s past glory. These projects also involved the participation of many New York artists and local community youth.

Brooklyn-born artist and performer Richard Eagan has been working in mixed-media constructed painting for over 30 years. His architectural portraits of Coney Island have been shown at The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, and La Mama Galleria, among others. In the 1980’s, Richard worked in Coney Island as a show talker (“barker”), game and ride operator, and age & weight guesser (“Stump the Guesser, Fool the Professor”). He is the only Coney Island show veteran known to have fed sharks by hand for a living. Partnered with Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun, he co-founded Coney Island Events, through which the team handled press and created special events for the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce in the mid-1980s. He can still be found each summer hosting the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade on the reviewing stand podium in the persona of his lovely alter-ego, Miss Kay Sera. This exhibit marks Eagan’s fourth showing at the 440 Gallery.

Philomena Marano grew up in Brooklyn spending endless summers in Coney Island. A return to a declining Coney in the late 70s compelled her to begin a decades-spanning series of papier collé and limited editions known as American-Dream-Land. Marano had earlier mastered the cut paper technique working as an assistant to pop artist Robert Indiana on a Bicentennial project, “The Mother of Us All” for the Santa Fe Opera. Like Eagan, she was unable to resist the siren call of Coney, and was a prime mover of the CIHS’ Coney Island art projects in the 1980’s after spending several seasons as a sign and ride painter. She is represented by Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, and has exhibited widely in and around New York including: New York Then & Now in 2009 and Fragments: 1915-2011: Modern & Contemporary Collage at ACA Galleries, New York; she has shown at Bridgewater Fine Arts, Manhattan, the Coney Island Museum and at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. She participates annually in a baseball themed show at the George Krevsky Gallery, San Francisco. Corporate and museum collections include: Chase Bank, the Brooklyn Historical Society, The Museum of the City of New York and the Brooklyn Museum.

A number of special events will be offered in the gallery’s “Sundays @ 440” series. On Sunday, November 4, 4:40 PM, Richard Eagan will present a reading of his play for one actor, Alive in the Inside, an account of the artist’s surreal journey through Coney Island. On Sunday, November 18, 4:40 PM, Eagan and Marano will present an illustrated talk about the history of The Coney island Hysterical Society and their work in and out of Coney Island. In addition, on Sunday, October 28, 4:40 PM, as part of the gallery’s “Young Artists @ 440” program, a free, hands-on workshop for children, ages 4-12, will facilitate young artists in creating their own works inspired by the exhibition.

The Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society opens on Thursday, October 18, and will run through November 25. Please join us for an artists’ reception on Thursday, October 18 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM at the gallery. The Xylofolks will play novelty ragtime music from the 1920’s.

The 440 Gallery, located at 440 Sixth Avenue, Brooklyn, is convenient to the F, M, and R subways. The gallery is open Thursday and Friday, 4:00 – 7:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM, or by appointment. Visit the gallery’s website, , for more information.