In the Seventies, my notion about contemporary art was inspired by Coney Island. I wanted to make art that would appeal to the crowds and look familiar to the scene there. My favorite thing to see at Coney island was the facade of “Dante’s Inferno”: lurid, scary, funny, handmade figures.
For the Coney Art Walls 2016 project, I thought of the beach and the ocean. I used a trio of swimmers whose original figures are still installed on a wall in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The sculpture of my friend Eric (happy on the beach) has another version that greets visitors at a Queens Children’s Hospital.
John Ahearn was born in Binghamton, New York in 1951 and lives and works in New York City. He was a founding member of Collaborative Projects, Inc. and an organizer of the “Times Square Show”, 1980. John Ahearn’s work alongside that of his long-time collaborator, Rigoberto Torres was the subject of a survey exhibition, “South Bronx Hall of Fame”, organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Houston in 1991 which traveled to museums in Europe and North America. In the 1980s and 1990s the artists executed several outdoor murals in the Bronx, New York and collaborated on public projects and exhibitions in Europe and North America. Between 2000 and 2002 John Ahearn completed a public project in Pan Chiao, Taiwan and between 2005 and 2006, Ahearn and Torres collaborated on two large scale wall murals at the Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea in Brazil. In the fall of 2010, their work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art in Newark. In May 2012, John Ahearn participated in the special projects section of the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island, where he presented a reconstruction of his legendary 1979 exhibition at Fashion Moda, “South Bronx Hall of Fame”.