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While the City of Los Angeles stumbles along an ordinance process to find direction for its public art, Metro has been rolling along. The next list of artists commissioned by Metro was recently introduced, and from that selection of eight artists -- selected from 400 applicants -- is a varied list of proposals and concepts for public art that will be installed on Phase 2 of the Expo Line as part of a provision to commit .5 percent of its construction budget to make the rail system a visual engagement between people and place.
Not unlike Phase 1, the concepts are designed to make station platforms engaging to pedestrians, rail commuters, and passengers and drivers in vehicles, says Zipporah Yamamoto, Creative Services Manager for Metro. Phase 2 of the Expo Line will feature a total of ninety-four art panels, with the installations ranging from 8 to 24 art panels per station, using glass mosaic, ceramic mosaic, and porcelain tiles fabricated for durability. The Colorado and 4th Street terminus station will host a sculpture by artist Walter Hood.
They don't have the theatrical scale of some Gold Line markers, like the basket-as-artifact symbolism in the Gold Line Bridge by Andrew Leicester, or Mariachi Plaza Station's "El Nino Perdido" by Alejandro de la Loza, or even most of stations along the Red and Purple lines, making the new pieces seem diminutive in comparison. It's not budget cuts as much as limited room. ""It's about limited real estate," said Yamamoto. "There isn't space for large scale works at most of the Expo Line stations."
The works are designed to be aesthetic links to the immediate neighborhoods that have a platform station. The ink on the artist's contracts isn't dry, but the proposals will be soon be introduced.
There cannot be a full review of public art until its installed, but based on the Phase 1 installation, the city is growing a sophisticated transportation ethos. Public art in stations is not the destination. The smaller works become markers along a journey that extends to a series of destinations to other city neighborhoods. During the first few impressions, there may be curiosity to the meaning of the works, and that can have locals and visitors feel like they are discovering a brand new city.
For the National/Palms Station, artist Shizu Saldamando will "combine images of pencil drawings on wood panels and hand-cut Japanese washi paper collage to illustrate the people, places, nurseries and plant life of the area," according to Metro. The artist's choice of materials are references her family's history. "Her grandfather created wood sculptures while in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The use of wood and washi paper connects the materiality of the compositions with the area's Japanese heritage, while depicting images of a changing landscape and social demographic," said Metro.
Expo/Westwood Station by Abel Alejandre will have gateway arches that "depict the legs of travelers headed to their destinations: a business professional with her rolling briefcase, a parent with a stroller and a hummingbird in flight." Above seating areas, commuters are calmly waiting, according to the art description. "Individuals reference the history of the local area: a gardener holds a young boy's hand as the boy reaches for a dropped origami paper crane, signifying nearby Little Osaka and the many nurseries that once flourished in the area. A wounded soldier in an older style uniform stands on crutches, drawing on the memory of the Sawtelle Veteran's Home," said Metro. Each figure in the art "[creates] a story of place illustrated through the act of commuting."
At the Expo/Sepulveda Station, Susan Logoreci will create an aerial view of the station that shows local neighborhoods. From a series of colored pencil drawings drawn from photographs that were shot from a helicopter, "the images present the structured landscape of the area punctuated with identifiable landmarks" and show the patchwork change on a civic infrastructure, according to Metro.
Expo/Bundy Station will have a series of panels by Nzuji DeMagalhães, narrated by a flowing sash as a means to "convey the history and vitality of the local neighborhood." Art panels, depicting the area's agricultural history and present day urban city, will face the platform entrances, said Metro, adding that the painted sash represent cultural traditions "quilted together with a light blue yarn meant to signify the Expo Line."
Olympic/26th Street Station becomes a found object by Constance Mallinson, made in part from objects and natural materials "collected on walks in the local area." The collection of overlooked discards will allow the viewer to focus on local landscapes, "suggesting that they reveal potential narratives about the people who frequent the area." Located near Bergamot Station, the panels of landscapes will have subtle references to historical art periods to create a connection to the nearby cultural destination.
For the Colorado/17th Street Station, Carmen Argote will use clothing to "represent commuter and the commute." Panels above gateways open to closets full of clothes. Other panels will include "clothes [that] are pressed close together, symbolic of the crush of a rush hour commute," or art reflecting clothing or mood changes at different times in the day of a commuter. Clothing as art is inspired by the city's "personalities, professions and cultural influences," said Metro.
Colorado/4th Street Station has Judithe Hernández use the terminus station, a stop at the "edge of a continent," use twenty-four art panels to compose storyline about global mythologies. Layered images create metaphors for day and night, and the seasons, said Metro. The selected proposal also offers to use "cultural identifiers with elements that denote the passage of time."
Her art will create "a sense of shared place and historical significance that honors the heritage of the local, the immigrant and the tourist alike."
Colorado/4th Street Station will feature a sculpture by Walter Hood. The concept proposal has Saint Monica, known as the "weeping saint," with her nightly shedding of tears over her son "Augustine's hedonistic lifestyle." The art description adds that Father Juan Crespi thought of Saint Monica's eyes when he discovered the Kuruvungna, the local Tongva tribe's sacred springs that were once at the border of Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. The sculpture will also refer to the geological and cultural history of Santa Monica through the use of materials, noting Saint Monica, the Kuruvungna, and the Palisades, according to Metro.
"By fall, many of the artwork designs will be finalized," said Yamamoto. "The artworks will then move into the fabrication phase and will be ready for installation once the stations are completed." To track the progress of these works, follow Metro's The Source.