I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of weeks, but it’s still timely. A few weeks ago in The Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Maloney profiled my favorite under-the-radar MTA department. She highlighted the upcoming plans for art installations at the MTA’s new stations. Along the 7 line extension and underneath Second Ave., the authority will soon have four blank canvases, and they’re planning new art for each station.
As subway riders descend the escalator into a new 7 line station near 10th Avenue and 34th Street in 2013, they will be followed by a mosaic of brightly colored celestial orbs shining from a deep blue sky. At a planned Second Avenue subway stop at 63rd Street, the walls will display photographs evoking the elevated trains that once rumbled above. And a station at 96th Street will feature line drawings fired onto ceramic tiles, playing with perspectives as travelers move through the space.
The designs are part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to make each of its new subway stations on the extended 7 line and new Second Avenue line a massive work of public art. Building on the MTA’s nearly three-decade history of enlivening subway and commuter rail stations with mosaics and sculpture, the agency has commissioned art that accompanies riders from the sidewalk to the platform and helps shape spaces that haven’t yet been built.
The effort is ongoing: The MTA last week issued a call for artists for the Second Avenue line’s 72nd Street station. “It’s very exciting,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Arts for Transit and Urban Design program, who, along with the artists, discussed details of the projects for the first time. “It’s three New Yorkers, three visions. I think that reflects the subway; it reflects our ridership.”
As Maloney notes, the MTA allocates a small portion of the construction costs to artwork. The new installations are expected to cost between $900,000 and a $1 million each and are a part of projects that will cost a few billion dollars each. It’s a great program that livens up the subways, turning them into the city’s most extensive art gallery. Check out Maloney’s piece for more renderings of the upcoming art. Jean Shin’s work at 63rd St., which, according to Maloney, will “depict the 1942 dismantling of the Second Avenue elevated line and the opening of the sky over an area accustomed to rumbling and shadows,” sounds particularly intriguing.