Jeffrey Deitch Is Curating for Property Developers on Coney Island

Boy, is it going to be genuine and gritty.

New York dealer-impresario Jeffrey Deitch is co-curating a street art show in Coney Island this summer with Joseph Sitt, the head of real estate developers Thor Equities, whom a Huffington Post blogger once dubbed “Satan’s real estate division.”

The show includes Crash, Lee Quinones, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Miss Van, Lady Pink, Swoon, and Icy Signs. It will be accompanied by the debut of Smorgasburg Coney Island, with 12 “diverse” food vendors. Oh, and there will be music, too. (See Miley Cyrus Takes Art Basel, Thanks to Jeffrey Deitch).

A longtime devotee of street art, Deitch organized the crowd-pleasing 2011 exhibition “Art in the Streets” during his ill-fated tenure at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. While it drew crowds, it wasn’t free of controversy. For one thing, critics moaned that Deitch was creating a circus, fixated on the income from the 200,000 visitors who flocked to the show at the expense of scholarly shows.

But you remember all that, and hey, art is about entertainment, right?

Yet worse was the censoring of a mural by Blu, commissioned for that show, that depicted a panorama of coffins draped in dollar bills. The museum said that since its neighbors include a VA hospital and a monument to Japanese-American soldiers in World War II, the work was “inappropriate,” and whitewashed the painting.

Thor Equities may not be the best company to share a spotlight with, either.

Remember Astroland, the beloved Coney Island amusement park that shut down in 2008 after offering roller coaster rides since 1962? Thor is the new owner of that property. Former owner Carol Albert told the New York Times they forced her out. Thor has reportedly invested more than $100 million in buying up Coney Island property.

Thor hasn’t made friends out of SoHo residents Michele Varian and Brad Roberts, either. They say the company, which, according to the New York Post, owns more than 20 properties in that neighborhood, has made their lives hell by tearing apart the units above and below their rent-regulated loft. A worker in hazmat gear once busted right through their floor, tearing a 5-foot hole.

And it gets better: “Ms. Varian showed this reporter work permits that Thor had filed with the city, indicating that the building was unoccupied and had no rent-stabilized tenants,” writes the Times.


It all makes sense. The supposedly irrepressible, antiauthoritarian spirit of graffiti is harnessed to create a Disney-fied version of a bygone era, when Coney Island was dirty but real. It’s all brought to you by the museum director who drove away all the artist-trustees at LA MOCA, who was shocked—shocked!—that running a museum involved so much fundraising, and who is on the side of Klaus Biesenbach (see Jeffrey Deitch Claims Art World Persecution and Defends Klaus Biesenbach).

We won’t see Blu in this show, I’m guessing.

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