Artist, Philanthropist, Carousel Namesake, Jane Walentas Dies at 76

As reported by Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Brooklyn Paper, Philanthropist, Artist, Real Estate Developer, and “First Lady of Dumbo,” Jane Walentas passed away July 5th after a brief battle with cancer. She was 76 years old.

The Walentas Family and their management company, Two Trees, is synonymous with DUMBO as we now know it. And the carousel, which has delighted children and adults alike since September 2011, is inseparable from Jane.

A New York Times article from 2011 traces the journey of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel, originally installed in Youngstown, OH in 1922, to Brooklyn. Purchased by the Walentas’ in 1984, much of the tedious scraping away of decades of paint was carried out by Jane herself with an Exacto blade. She told WNYC in 2011, “It’s not a labor of love, it’s an obsession.”

In November 2012 Hurricane Sandy threatened to wash the carousel away. Fortunately, it endured, as will Jane’s legacy of creativity and generosity. We at the blog send our deepest condolences to the entire Walentas family.

Photo credit: SongBirdNYC

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  • Knight

    So sorry to read this. Jane Walentas had great artistic vision and dedication to bringing “the arts” to everyone in the DUMBO community and its surrounding areas. Hers is “a force for good” that will be missed in days & years to come.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Knight, that was beautifully said and I couldn’t agree more. I am attaching a film I did years ago dedicated to her and her incredible restoration of that beautiful carousel.

  • Arch Stanton

    “Jane Walentas had great artistic vision” You mean by forcing out all the artists that lived or had studios in DUMBO?

  • SongBirdNYC

    Yes, like the East Village, SoHo and Tribeca. It’s happening now in Bed Stuy and Bushwick. If you click through the various links you will find though that she created an artist’s studio program. So yes, while the area was gentrified I’m not sure there has been an effort in other neighborhoods to preserve the arts. The Dumbo murals, art installations, Photoville, and the now defunct Dumbo Arts Festival are all attempts to keep art in the neighborhood. Do I love gentrification? No. But, I prefer those efforts to a derelict, crumbling waterfront.

  • aeshtron

    Thank you Jane for your contributions to Brooklyn and beyond — you left a meaningful gift to NYC. Long live Jane’s Carousel and may it spark joy in many for year to come : )