On my Coney Island Sideshow Paintings
            I remember long-ago summer weekends at the Coney Island Beach with my mother, and one unforgettable ride as a tyke with my father on the Cyclone, where I screamed in such deep panic that I lost my voice.
             In the early 1980’s I made my first visits to Coney Island as an adult. I had no idea of what to expect; the “Dreamland” I was looking for had burned down decades earlier. Like the pre-Disneyfied 42nd Street area in Manhattan, Coney Island was deliriously seedy:  a series of shabby rides, seaside concession stands in derelict buildings along and near the boardwalk, an entire lost history blistering into shards of paint under the July sun. I took a few photographs, mostly of hand-painted signs and a few of the more nostalgic rides and oddities, many of which had vanished upon my return a few years later. 
            Under the “L” at Surf Avenue, there was an old carrousel with carved wooden animals that evoked the sort of carving employed by Elie Nadelman for his wood carved circus figures.  In one sideshow tent of curiosities I found a desiccated imitation of the Fiji Mermaid which looked like something out of a barrel of dried fish in a Chinatown grocery store. The “live” sideshow wasn’t much then, but they had an old Snapp Wyatt banner and I was entranced again. 
 The real freaks were on the beach. Once I was startled by the nearly naked body of an aged drug-addled trans-sexual spilling out of her bikini, numerous stabbing scars marring a deep tan that rendered flesh into bark.  This was confirmation of the reality I was seeking. 
             The paintings I worked on for more than a decade carry archetypal images of otherness, which to me, were really images of our secret selves. Like a giant Tarot card, the life size scale allowed me to use a synthetic cubist structure that opened up purposeful ambiguities in the paintings’ illusionism. In many works, contrasting modes of representation also conditioned the meaning of the whole. 
 Most importantly,  and with a bit of black humor, I wanted to make the viewer feel like a voyeur, who might be provoked into feeling implicated and confused, the way we are as children, when first looking into a mirror.
— 2016, published as Afterword in Lisa Kereszi's Yale Exhibition SideShow catalogue