Fast-paced Art: Creative Works at CTA Stations

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

By Sheryl Carter, Stephanie Rosado and Crystal Villegas

Although convenient, public transportation has been known to leave an impression on the rider with its unique odors and challenge to fit in tight spaces.

To make time pass quicker, it is no coincidence that commuters rely on their phones, earphones or books to enjoy the ride.

But those riders sometimes miss the beauty of art that the Chicago Transit Authority system has to offer. Public art has been emerging to many CTA lines around the city and although each line showcases unique art, the Red Line displays the most art and of diverse background.

One example is glass art that hangs above the 79th Station walkway. Check out this Bubbli of 79th Station artwork “South Side Weave.”

Art has the ability to grab people’s attention even if it is only for a few seconds.

Red Line rider Megan Kerber, who makes a daily commute to Depaul University, mentioned that one of her favorite art pieces is the mural located at the Roosevelt stop on the Red Line.

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Photo by Stephanie Rosado

“This piece of art really stands out in particular to me because it delivers so much more than pretty colors,” she said. “ It’s informative as much as it is artistically attractive especially to students like me.” she states.

“[The mural] is a timeline that shows and tells people about different periods in time. Being an archeology major, I find the dinosaur era the most interesting.”

“This is what public art does. It allows each person to identify with it in their own ways.”

Roosevelt also hosts a mural along the walls of its walkway leading up to “Hopes and Dreams.” Check out this Hyperlapse of the mural.

In addition to the fact that that the CTA places art at rail stations to create a unique visual experience for riders, CTA’s goal is also to promote a friendly, inviting atmosphere in order to contribute to community identity.

According to the Chicago Transit Authority the art that belongs to Chicago’s transit system has expanded, now being the largest it ever has ever been since 2011, the year Rahm Emmanuel was elected mayor. There are more than 66 pieces of art on display at over more than 50 stations and some of the art includes mosaics, sculptures, and paintings by national and international artists.

The total project budget for art is nearly $621,000 which includes all costs for artist fees, fabrication, installation and other administrative fees. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) also provides funds for project budgets. All project budgets are solely used for the purposes of art.

Emanuel and the CTA have plans to include an additional 10 works of art over the next several years. On the Red Line, the 95th Street Station currently has plans to include a pair of wall-mounted artworks, fabricated of decommissioned fire hoses designed to flank the pedestrian walkway of the south terminal.

The artwork is inspired by the history of the Civil Rights era and installation is expected by early 2018. Across all lines, the CTA has plans to install artwork on the Blue Line’s Damen, Westers, Addison, Irving Park, Jefferson Park, and Illinois Medical District stops as well as the Kedzie Green line stop, and the Diversey Brown Line stop.

When the City of Chicago commissions money for artwork, the amount depends on the size of the artwork, complexity and materials used. Some art, such as the installations planned for the Addison and Irving Park Blue Line stops, costs about $100,000 whereas more detailed pieces, such as the art for the 95th Street Station, are upwards of $1 million.

The newest artwork piece was installed on October 2017 at the Wilson Station, which serves both Red and Purple Lines. Named “Arpeggio” by world-renowned artist, designer and engineer Cecil Balmond, the sculpture is enhanced by a reflective wall and LED lighting. It uses strong geometric shapes to reflect light and create the feel of continuous movement.

The oldest piece of artwork of the Red Line is at the Addison station. In 1998, the painting “Cubs Legends” was commissioned by the Adopt-A-Station program and was painted by artist Steve Musgrave.

The Fullerton Red Line station features several art pieces, such as Hayes Healy Gymnasium, known for its limestone panels that showcase athleticism, “Doors Open Everywhere at Fullerton”, a mosaic abstract landscape just above the entrance stairs and Landslide a three-dimensional drawing.

Bedia Zear, a CTA booth operator on duty at the station,said riders appreciate the pieces.

“I think the art is nice.” she said. “As long as we can keep it clean I think it’s nice to look at. Lots of people come from out of state and they like to take pictures standing in front of the art.”

When asked if she would be on board for the city to expand the art to more stations she disagreed.

“I believe that art is better exposed to the public at high traffic or major stations like Fullerton or Wilson.” she commented.

Commuters enjoy having something to look forward to while they are traveling. Art is what gives them something colorful to explore, they say.

“The pieces I have encountered in the Red Line are what give me something to anticipate when I’m going down the escalators, because even if they are the same pieces of art, I see them differently each day,” CTA rider Marquise Davion said of his experience. “I think it’s important that these pieces of art are being updated regularly.”

Davion works with several after-school activities when working as a video producer.

“I know that programs likeAfter School Matters send their students to create pieces of art.” he said. “The more students become involved, the more diversity we are encouraging in public art.”

“Chicago needs more of it being spread out.”

MAP:Click Here to use this map to track CTA artwork.

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