Nunley's Carousel for Birds, 2019
Available through summer 2019.
Via featured artist Donna Abbate:
About Nunley's..... I have a strong connection to it. I was born in Freeport NY and Nunley's Carousel was a place my dad would take me to when I was a wee munchkin.
It was such a magical place, the colors, the music was an original pipe organ. The horses were beautiful, and the carver/carousel creator was known for his carousel horses with wide wild looking eyes.
My time with my dad there was a pure joy, the kind only a child can experience. Many years ago before they closed the carousel and moved it to a different location (thankfully not breaking it up and selling it off) I went back and took pictures. So the drawings were based on those pictures.
The bird on the horse is me. I am looking back into the past, but the horses are always charging forward into the future.
About Nunley's Carousel: It was created in 1912 by the Stein and Goldstein Artistic Carousel Co. of Brooklyn, NY and installed in Golden City Park in Canarsie, where it operated until 1939.
The NY Times notes: "The horses were carved in Coney Island style, which eschewed the look of docile ponies and prancing fillies and produced much more muscular, ferocious creatures with bared teeth and heads often lifted in motion."
In the spring of 1940, the carousel was moved to Baldwin, NY where it operated until 1995. When Nunley's Park closed in 1995, Nassau County rescued the carousel, legally seizing it to ensure it was not sold off piecemeal. "The county recognized the carousel as a valuable historic artifact," said Gary Monti, the carousel's custodian, adding that folks “appreciated it as a beautiful work of folk art."
In March 2009, after painstakingly restoring the carousel to its former glory, Nassau County reopened the carousel in its new home in Long Island.
Long Island native Billy Joel wrote "Waltz #1 (Nunley's Carousel)" (2001) as a tribute to the beloved attraction, which he enjoyed riding on as a child. The carousel now plays a special soundtrack with a carousel organ-like instrumentation arranged by Billy Joel.
Nunley's Carousel has scores of painted wooden panels, 41 horses, two sit down chariots, a stand still lion, the original Wurlitzer calliope, and the brass ring machine comprising a wooden arm filled with silver and brass rings, which reaches out toward the carousel so that passerby riders can reach out and grab them. If a patron grabs a brass ring, s/he wins a free ride on the carousel.
Donna Abbate is a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and has practiced the art of surrealism in such places as Boston, Santa Fe, Los Angeles and currently conjures works of an inexplicable nature in Cambria, California.