Coney Island nonprofit seeks artist for new 150-foot mural

A mural by artist Megan Watters on the Eldorado Bumper Cars building.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

Coney Island, that iconic spot in Brooklyn known for mermaids, hot dogs, and roller coasters, is seeking a “welcome ambassador” to paint a sprawling mural outside its bustling subway station.

The Alliance for Coney Island, a community improvement group which has already funded numerous murals across the peninsula, is looking for an artist to paint its largest scene to date: a giant 13 foot by 150 foot piece proclaiming “Welcome to Coney Island.”

The enormous piece of art will greet people as soon as they step out of the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue subway station, the group’s executive director told Brooklyn Paper.

“It has been a dream of mine to have more art,” said Alexandra Silversmith. “Pre-pandemic, we had a lot of visitors who would come during the off-season. With all the gates down, it seemed like a perfect way to create an art gallery.”

The new mural — part of a project called “Coney Island for Everyone” — comes on the heels of the Alliance’s previous partnerships with local artists in creating public art, including storefront gate murals as well as the current Photoville exhibition along W. 10th Street by the boardwalk. Silversmith, an amateur photographer who herself once had student artwork displayed at MoMA, has a “pure appreciation of art” and a fascination with street art.

“During the pandemic, we were tagged with just so much graffiti that it became increasingly something I wanted to do,” she said, noting that she took inspiration from the Lower East Side’s “100 Gates Project,” which worked to beautify the barren drop-down gates of Manhattan businesses.

A mural by artist Rachel Rankin on T&M Nails Salon Inc. on Mermaid Avenue.Alliance for Coney Island

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Silversmith said Alliance has commissioned a total of 19 murals in the busiest areas of Coney Island, and there has since only been “very minor tagging” of the artworks — something she said demonstrates the mutual respect between the artists and the community.

When asked what the Alliance is looking for in an artist and “ambassador,” Silversmith said, “Experience in painting in a large-scale installation and availability [during Spring 2022].”

Aside from the Alliance, the owners of beloved local restaurant Gargiulo’s (whose wall will welcome the mural) will also have a say in the artist who is chosen, Silversmith said.

Coney Island is home to more than 350 businesses, 50,000 residents, and is visited by over 7 million people every year. Of those who get to enjoy the People’s Playground, Silversmith said many are positively interacting with the murals.

“We’re seeing on Instagram, people are really enjoying them and taking lots of photos,” she said.

Artists are encouraged to explore current storefront murals and submit applications via llianceforconeyisland.org/murals by Dec. 30. The selected artist will receive an all-inclusive $20,000 honorarium and get to bring the new neighborhood centerpiece to life.