‘Like a big party’: BWAC’s second summer art exhibition examines Coney Island and ‘The Model Wife’

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition is celebrating summer with three new art exhibits. This piece by Andrew Spencer will be on display as part of another ode to Coney Island.
BWAC/Andrew Spencer

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition — BWAC — is celebrating summer with three new art exhibitions in display from this Saturday, July 30 through Aug. 28.

The first installment, titled “More Art of Coney Island,” will explore the spirit and historic placement of the neighborhood, building upon one of last summer’s exhibits — “The Art of Coney Island.”

“Coney Island is more than a place; it looms large in myth and legend, plus it is a state of mind and lifestyle for the people who live and work there,” the organization said in a statement. “It can be both the epitome of fun and a symbol of survival. It is a prime source of nostalgia and a hope for better days. This exhibition encompasses the attraction/aversion emotions that Coney Island can evoke, through Coney-inspired photographs, drawings, paintings, prints and more.”

A photo by John Huntington featured in BWAC’s upcoming Coney-focused exhibit.BWAC/John Huntington

The second part of the show is simply labeled “FUN,” and artists will try to answer three weighty questions: What, at this particular time in history, does “fun” mean? Should we be allowed to experience fun given the current world environment? Is fun a memory of things past or should it be included as a part of a balanced mental diet, as essential as the food we eat?

Lastly, the organizers invite Sara Baley, an accomplished Brooklyn photographer, to share her project ‘The Model Wife.” Baley’s work reimagines a book published in 1999 book by the same title by photographer and author Arthur Ollman from her own perspective as an LGBTQI+ artist.

“Ms. Baley presents thought-provoking images of her wife as developing commentary on the previous book’s exploration of the work of nine male photographers who used their wives as models,” BWAC said in a statement. 

Half of the proceeds from Baley’s sales will be donated to the Ali Forney Center and Planned Parenthood, according to the Coalition. 

“I’m so thrilled to share my series The Model Wife on the beautiful walls at BWAC. I’m born and raised in Brooklyn and have been aching to show my work in my own community,” Baley said. “When they asked me if I would show one of my series in the upstairs gallery, the timing felt so right for this specific work, though it’s still a work in progress. It’s so meaningful to me that 50% of the proceeds from any sales are going to the organizations, Ali Forney Center, and Planned Parenthood, both causes I feel passionate about. ” 

According to Alicia Deneger, BWAC’s president, last summer’s show was great fun — and she looks forward to the second installment going up in a few days.

“We did this show last year at BWAC and it was pretty big,” said Deneger. “It was our biggest show of the year. It was like crazy fun.”

“Nails” by Marie Roberts, featured in BWAC’s “More Art of Coney Island” exhibit.BWAC/Marie Roberts

The new exhibitions are part of a busy summer of art and celebrations at BWAC, which has already hosted two different shows featuring work from dozens of artists all over the country this year.

Degener shared that this year’s summer celebration will include over 100 artists garnered through open calls and word of mouth advertising. Together they feature over 500 never seen before art pieces on both floors of the old civil war era warehouse. There will also be plenty of sideshow performers including, mermaids from the Coney Island museum, magicians and more. 

“This show is amazing and everyone is super excited. There’s a lot of buzz about it,” Degener said.

Check out the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition‘s new exhibits starting Saturday, July 30, from 1-6 p.m. at BWAC, 481 Van Brunt St. near Reed Street in Red Hook.