Though Los Angeles may never shed its image as a car-obsessed city, the past 20 years have seen significant progress and growth in its public transit system, making it a viable option for more Angelenos. Along with added convenience, the opening of each new segment brings opportunity for artists.
Established in 1989, the Metro Art program has commissioned more than 300 artists and poets to create artworks for 80 stations. "The customers' experience is essential," said Maya Emsden, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's deputy executive officer, creative services. "Art is a wonderful, engaging way to transform their journeys into something pleasant."
For instance, weary commuters arising from the depths of the Civic Center Red Line station are greeted by Samm Kunce's "Under the Living Rock," a 160-foot curved wall depicting a classical hanging garden of Venetian glass and striated granite. An uplifting passage from Ovid's "Metamorphoses," etched into black granite ribbon, may well soothe the harried soul.
The 10 new Expo Line stations that opened last spring feature 176 art panels by 10 artists. The entire process can take from one to six years depending on the project. A panel of art professionals reviews and selects the artists, varying from those just emerging to well established figures such as photographer Robbert Flick and sculptor Donald Lipski. Lipski recently completed "Time Piece," a 30-foot-high stainless steel clock-tower arch at the El Monte bus terminal.