May, 2017, Ilene Isseks

There are so many great Coney Island artists it’s hard to pick one each month. This month I’d like to introduce you to the wonderful paintings of Ilene Isseks. I first saw Ilene’s painting, The Atlantis Bar—a bar I fictionalized in my novel—on one of the We Grew Up in Brighton Beach Facebook pages and she was nice enough to let me use it in my Places in the Book page on this website. Though I never met her, it turns out she’s an old friend of Marilyn’s, the same Marilyn who’s fictionalized in my novel. And, it also turns out, that The Atlantis Bar is hanging in the apartment of my former husband’s former girlfriend. It further turns out that she (the former girlfriend) is good friends with Ilene and it was nice to connect up with her. Now we’re all Facebook friends. Oh the wonders of Facebook!

To see more of her beautiful work, please go to:


I love this painting because of its Edward Hopper quality. It seems to depict the loneliness of Coney Island when the crowds are gone. It’s the pedestrian walk known as the Bowery, which used to be the main midway through many of the amusements. Can you see a silhouette of a dragon’s head? It’s on the Dragon’s Cave dark ride which inspired one of my illustrations.


This is the old Thunderbolt. It had the rickety house under it depicted in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.





This is the bar I fictionalized in The Coney Island Book of the Dead.



The Half Moon Hotel is in the background.


















Ilene Isseks

Posted in: Changing Gallery


  1. Anonymous says:

    These are really really great. You are a beautiful artist. How big/small are these pics? Post more!
    Linda Zises

    • Sheila says:

      Thank you, Linda on behalf of Ilene. Those are the only ones she gave me. In fact she was painting fast so she could get one more into the show!

  2. Orlando says:

    You are a Wonderful Artist Ilene. This is the 1st I am seeing a collection of your Gifted Works. Loved all of them.

    • Sheila says:

      I know, Orlando, it’s so nice to see them all together. That’s one of the reasons I like curating these things.

  3. Davida Dale says:

    Beautiful paintings. I also grew up in Brighton Beach and these paintings
    brought me right back. Thanks.

    • Sheila says:

      Thanks, Davida. I plan to continue these every month with a different artist. I hope you keep coming back. If you’d like to be on my author’s email list please leave your email address. And read my book!

  4. Janet says:

    Beautiful work! You might also enjoy the work of Gregory Frux

  5. Marilyn Jones says:

    I really like the variety of topics in her work. I like the rain soaked street in one of them. Also, the nudes show real bodies, and I appreciate that. I like the kitchen one and the subway ones. Thanks, Sheila!

  6. Marilyn says:

    Just wonderful art. Brought back memories of Coney island. And I thought I recognized your mom (Ilene’s) in one of the pictures. Thanks, Sheila, for posting them.

  7. Berenice Bensa says:

    I love Ilene’s paintings. This is the first time I’ve seen so many of her paintings.
    Thanks for this online exhibit.

  8. paige says:

    Glad to finally see the painting that brought us all together– the Atlantis Bar. I like them all and especially like the colors in Coney Island Subway, Tout Vas Bien and the reflective surfaces rain soaked street of Oaks and floor of the Kitchen. I want to visit that kitchen. Love the photo of the artist, posing in front of Thunderbolt. Ilene looks like someone you’d want to know.

  9. Ilene,
    Your paintings have at once a gritty and colorful appeal … some them you’ve portrayed the forlorn side of Coney Island in the earlier days , I would say late ’70s or early ’80s, when it was suspended in time and it’s future was unpredictable. I have a personal connection with that time too- it was when I returned to Coney Island after a long absence.
    Keep painting!
    All Best,

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