Boardwalk Glory: Vintage Ride + Old School Arcade c/o John Margolies


Arcade by John Margolies
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) | 24"x30" ($800)

Disco Star by John Margolies
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) | 24"x30" ($800)

The boardwalk brings to mind the best of stress-free summer antics: roller coasters, pinball, bumper cars, funnel cake. And of course, the beach. Whether you’re at Coney Island or Santa Cruz, the boardwalk is built-in beach fun (for those who require a little something else on top of the waves, sand and sun). ‘Wholesome’ is a word for the extracurriculars here—a stationary epicenter of crowd-pleasing amusement that’s made all the better by an ocean view. ‘Timeless’ also rings true, especially when you get a look at the two John Margolies photographs that make up today’s extra-special double edition release. You might mistake the locale as a present-day pier, but these images are straight outta the 1970s... 


Disco Star by John Margolies


Margolies was best known for his photographs of mid-century vernacular architecture, the kind of roadside and commercial structures (with a quintessentially American quirk) designed to seduce travelers into stopping. His photos might call to mind car trips or classic, low-key family-friendly pursuits, peppered by regional retail gimmicks and flamboyant signage. He had a particular penchant for anything that loudly announced its presence, preferring to document his subjects sans the distraction of people or other interruptions. A flashy putt-putt course, a gas station shaped like a flying saucer, a motel with an extravagant marquis in the least extravagant setting...the kind of architecture critics often cast as tasteless and trivial. 

Margolies would make the case that these structures told a truer story of 20th century American life (and the people living it) than those afforded appreciation by architecture’s elite. Thanks to his extensive work, professional opinion began to follow suit. He spent almost 40 years traversing the country, foraging for these gems, capturing over 11,000 color-slide photographs in the process. Slide film lends a finer grain, richer colors, and more contrast than standard negative film—which explains the especially striking colors in Arcade and Disco Star.


Arcade by John Margolies


 

Both editions were shot in 1978 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, at a boardwalk that dates back to 1932. What began as a single carousel grew in just five years to include arcade games, concessions, a ballroom and a roller rink. Disco Star eventually joined the ranks of the many rides on the pier, which had blossomed into a bona fide amusement park. Arcade, on the other hand, is an excellent example of the electronic games that stormed the arcade scene in the 1970s.

This arcade game has probably been replaced by newer technology in the years since Margolies snapped it. Sadly, we can say for sure that Disco Star is no more—when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012 it destroyed the pier and many of its rides, including Disco Star. This is a bittersweet common denominator of a number of Margolies’ photographs: In many cases, his images were the last ever made of a landmark before it was torn down or destroyed, sometimes days after he shot it. It's a reminder of the ephemerality of these important structures, and a wonder Margolies had the foresight and talent to capture them before they vanished. 

With art for everyone,
Team 20x200 


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