Thor Equities chief executive officer Joseph Sitt announced the second installment of Coney Island Art Walls at 3050 Stillwell Avenue.
Curated by Sitt and Jeffrey Deitch, the art dealer and former director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the project features 20 new murals by Nina Chanel Abney, John Ahearn, Timothy Curtis, D*Face, Jessica Diamond, Tristan Eaton, Eric Haze, Icy & Sot, London Police, Pose, Stephen Powers and Tats Cru. Returning artists creating new works include Lady Aiko, Mister Cartoon, Crash, Daze, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Marie Roberts.
The public art wall will encompass Greenwood Beach where several food vendors are located. Coney Art Walls will be adjacent to the original Nathan’s restaurant and across from gourmet burger franchise Wahlburgers, It’s Sugar and the Nets Shop by Adidas. The site is also close to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Luna Park, the Cyclone, the New York Aquarium, the new Coney Island Amphitheater and MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“Coney Island is known as ‘the people’s playground,’” Sitt said. “That’s part of why we’re doing this. We want to send the message that Coney Island is alive and well and get the traffic back.”
Sitt has an affinity for Coney Island that goes beyond his ownership stake in the area. Sitt, who grew up in nearby Graveshead, almost a decade ago, floated plans to remake the seaside playground in the image of a steroid-fueled Las Vegas, albeit without the casinos. Thor went through years of negotiations with the city and ultimately sold some of its Coney Island property to the city.
The city in 2009 paid $95.6 million to buy less than seven acres of Sitt’s property with Sitt reportedly realizing a $50 million profit, while retaining significant holdings in the area.
Whether a transformation of Coney Island is viable remains to be seen. Pointing to profess, Sitt said that amusement rides and entertainment have been opening at Coney Island. “Eventually, we’ll get retail and restaurants and hotels. Over the years, I’d love to see large scale hotels that will bring tourists, and fun retail, including fashion and home. It’s not a luxury market. Having it open year-round is the goal.”
Sitt said he got the idea for the art wall while touring the area with a friend, Leonardo DeCaprio. “He has a Coney Island nostalgia art collection. Leo’s a big Coney Island fanatic. He said, ‘It would be great if could you find a way to infuse art into the area.’”
Sitt, who collects modern and contemporary art – especially paintings by Alexander Calder – called Deitch, who offered to “ bring in all the great graffiti artists in.’”
While resolution for Coney Island may come in the future, Sitt said the art project allows him to put the Stillwell Avenue property to use now.
“I didn’t want it to be empty,” he said. “It’s a very prime location.”