Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull), a site-specific installation by artist Stephen Powers, will transform the Brooklyn Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery into a dynamic environment filled with paintings and signs that are created in the visual vernacular of the iconic seaside community. On view from November 20, 2015, to March 13, 2016, this is the newest and ninth iteration of the artist’s iconic ICY SIGNS, a traveling sign shop first conceived by Powers in Coney Island in 2003.

The Brooklyn Museum installation recounts the birth of new public art in Coney Island, and the emergence of a uniquely American and wholly “Coney Island” style of painting. As a longtime admirer of the fading craft of sign painting, Stephen Powers has revitalized the tradition of colorful, hand-painted signage and advertisements in an age of digitization. The installation will also include works by Justin Green, Matt Wright, Mike Levy, Dan Murphy, Mike Lee, Mimi Gross, Alexis Ross, Sean Barton, Eric Davis, and Tim Curtis. Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) is being presented in tandem with Coney Island: Visions of An American Dreamland, 1861-2008 and Forever Coney: Photographs from the Brooklyn Museum Collection.

Stephen Powers was born and raised in Philadelphia. Known by his graffiti name ESPO, he moved to New York City in 1994, working as a magazine publisher and graffiti writer before opening his studio in 1999.

ICY SIGNS was initially conceived in 2003, with the advent of The Dreamland Artist Club-a public art project presented in partnership with Creative Time-where Stephen Powers and more than 40 artists created custom signs for the games and rides of Coney Island. The next year, Powers opened a location at 1206 Surf Avenue in Coney Island where he and numerous sign writers made sign painting a viable trade again. Since then, ICY Signs has operated in numerous storefront, museum, and gallery settings around the world, including Milan, Brussels, Copenhagen, St. Louis, and Los Angeles as well as two permanent locations-one in Philadelphia and one in Brooklyn. Most recently, Stephen Powers and ICY SIGNS worked with the New York City Department of Transportation to create 30 signs serving as an “emotional wayfinding system.”

Stephen Powers’ body of work includes The Waterboard Thrill Ride (2008), a project based in Coney Island presented in collaboration with Creative Time, and Love Letter to Brooklyn (2011), created in partnership with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The artist lives and works in Manhattan and has shown at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, The 49th Venice Biennale, and The Luggage Store in San Francisco. He had his first museum solo show at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2007.

Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) is organized by Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director for Exhibitions and Collections Management, Brooklyn Museum.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by VH1 and RVCA.

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