Ralph Fasanella is known for large canvases whose bright colors and dense imagery often belie their serious content. Fasanella was born in New York’s Greenwich Village to Italian immigrants, a father who worked as an ice-delivery man and a mother with progressive views who took up anti-Fascist and pro-trade union causes. He funneled his strong work ethic and sympathy with working class values and culture into labor unions for many years. Once he began painting, his political activism was translated into visual critiques of post–World War II America. This canvas highlights the democratic nature of New York’s public beaches, open to all and sundry. Shedding the grit and worries of city life, Fasanella’s vision offers a happy polyglot of people and amusements just within reach on the other side of a long tunnel.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Workers' Holiday - Coney Island," exhibition label for Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2012.