CTA Selects Wall-Sized Artwork for Seven North Side Red Line Stations

By Benjamin Woodard on June 18, 2013 2:04pm | Updated on June 18, 2013 4:15pm

EDGEWATER — Commuters will soon be greeted by wall-sized art installations at seven rehabbed "L" stations in Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown.

The Chicago Transit Authority considered nearly 300 applicants before choosing the seven pieces to be installed by the end of the year at the Jarvis, Morse, Thorndale, Granville, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence stations, which had all been recently renovated.

To mark the end of the first month of the South Side's Red Line reconstruction, the CTA also put out the call for artists Tuesday to submit their qualifications to be considered for artwork installations at Cermak-Chinatown, Sox-35th, 47th, Garfield, 63rd, 69th, 79th and 87th, which are all closed for another four months as the city completely replaces tracks and rehabs the stations.

The city is also looking to commission artwork for Uptown's Wilson station, set to be renovated for $203 million in the fall.

Chicago artist Jim Bachor, 49, whose art was chosen to adorn six columns at the entrance of the Thorndale station, attended a news conference Tuesday at Edgewater's Granville station, at 1119 W. Granville Ave., where alderman and CTA boss Forrest Claypool announced the winning artists.

"I'm trying to be cool about it," said Bachor of his first public art commission, but "I'm beyond thrilled."

The Mayfair resident and professional artist designed a glass mosaic of plants growing from the base of the columns and blooming into different icons that represent the neighborhood, such as a painter's palette, a sand pail and a school building.

"It will be a nice, jarring hug for all the commuters," he said.

Chicago artist Dorothy Hughes' piece was chosen for the Berwyn station. Made of glazed and fired clay, her blue, green and yellow installation featuring an Uptown skyline and the water of Lake Michigan reflects the diversity of both the people and the architecture of the neighborhood, she said.

"You have this play on high and low," she said of Uptown, "and you have the lake."

Photographer Tom Denlinger, 59, was commissioned for the Jarvis station. He said he used to live nearby the Rogers Park station before moving to Edgewater.

Denlinger's piece is a collection of photographs transferred to glass of the spaces in between buildings near the station.

"The piece is about the spaces that connect residences, where people live, and the station itself, which is an apparatus that connects people to the rest of the city," he said.

At Morse station, Harold Mendez, of Chicago, was commissioned for a piece that will replace the front windows of the station with a purple-tinged glass that silhouettes trees and branches against the sky.

L.A.-based artist Kyungmi Shin was commissioned for her piece designed for the Granville station that depicts colorful silhouettes of nearby buildings.

For the Argyle station, Chicago artist Lynn Basa was commissioned to install a piece featuring abstract, colorful flower blossoms.

Alabama-based artist DeeDee Morrison was commissioned to install her piece at the Lawrence station.

The artists are being paid paid a total of $382,000, or between $48,000 and $64,000 each, including artist fees and costs of materials and delivery of the artwork. The rest of the $621,000 pricetag for the project, which will be paid for with federal transportation money, covered installation, administrative fees and a project contingency fund.

"Throughout the year, whether it's a 100 degrees in Chicago or subzero, people get on the train sometimes going downtown [and] it's not the greatest experience," said Ald. Harry Osterman (48th). "They're going to walk into these stations now and they're going to see some beautiful art. The artists all hit home runs."

Ald. Joe Moore said he hopes the artwork would encourage Chicagoans to ditch their cars and use more public transportation.

"Having these stations renovated as they were, on time and on budget, ... is really helping us achieve our goal of making ourselves less of a car-oriented society," he said. "And to add the addition of this beautiful artwork ... only adds to the attractiveness of the station."

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