By Jon Schuppe
MANHATTAN — A Washington Heights collective is about to unveil six new works by local artists to be installed in neighborhood subway elevators, the second phase of an effort to recapture a “moving gallery” vibe that ended a decade ago with an MTA crackdown.
This time around, the artists are working with the MTA to install community artwork alongside pieces from the transit agency’s Arts for Transit program. The current agreement allows one piece of local poster-sized art in each of the six elevators serving passengers at the 181st and 190th streets stations for the A-train.
But organizers hope to one day have the art there be 100 percent local.
“The goal is that eventually they’ll all be community artists’ work, in all the elevators,” said Rosa Naparstek, co-director of Artists Unite, the non-profit group behind the project.
The current arrangement was the result of years of negotiations between Washington Heights residents and the MTA.
The saga began in 2001, when the agency took down mementos that had been collected and displayed by subway operators as a reflection of everyday life in Washington Heights. The agency said the displays were a fire hazard.
A community group collected 3,000 signatures and held a demonstration to have the art re-installed. They failed, but didn’t let the issue drop.
The two sides came to the current agreement last year. The first set of six local works went up in December.
The second set, culled from about 260 submissions, will be announced in a week or so, Naparstek said.
“It’s not easy, because we have a lot of wonderful images to choose from and our community is very rich with artists.”