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Mickalene Thomas, Shinique Smith, and Others Are Making Art for LA’s New Metro Line

From a stained-glass pavilion to vibrant murals, LA commuters will encounter art from the street to ground levels.

Detail of in-progress artwork design by Jaime Scholnick for Expo/Crenshaw Station, platform level (all images courtesy LA Metro)

One doesn’t generally associate Los Angeles with public transportation, but in recent years the city has been upping its game. In preparation for the 2028 Olympic games, the Metro plans on radically expanding the railway system. In 10 years, according to Los Angeles Curbed, it could be “the nation’s second most extensive rail system — second only to New York.” 

And the stations will be pretty, too. Thanks to Metro Art, the existing rail system is already punctuated by public art projects by over 650 artists, from artist-designed benches to hanging sculptures. Much anticipated is the Crenshaw Line, which will be opening in the fall of 2019 and will connect various areas in southwest Los Angeles. Metro Art has shared the designs and artworks, made by 14 different artists, that will be adorning the new line.

(image via metro.net)

Commuters will encounter art from the street to ground levels. At the entrance of the Expo/Crenshaw Station, Erwin Redl will design a gleaming stained-glass pavilion; for a second pavilion at the Leimert Park Station, Ingrid Calame worked with local youth to collect and display rubbings from buildings in the residential neighborhood of Leimert Park.

Rendering showing a detail of in-progress artwork design by Erwin Redl for Expo/Crenshaw Station, street level.
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Ingrid Calame for Leimert Park Station, street level

Many of the commissioned pieces draw on local histories. Also at Leimert Park Station, Mickalene Thomas has made a typically rhythmic picture depicting the Art Deco-style Vision Theatre, the futuristic Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport, and the fountain at Leimert Park. And, to find inspiration for his installation at Hyde Park Station, Carlson Hatton walked around the surrounding area, listening to the music people played in their homes. His mural portrays a band in a vibrant landscape.

Detail of in-progress artwork design by Mickalene Thomas for Leimert Park Station, concourse level
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Carlson Hatton for Hyde Park Station

Another highlight will be the Martin Luther King, Jr. Station. There, Shinique Smith will weave the words of the legendary civil rights leader, and photographer Eileen Cowin will install “filmstrip-like stories.”

See below for more projects that will adorn the Crenshaw Line. While the Metro might not ever be as extensive as New York’s, it’ll sure be nicer to look at.

Detail of in-progress artwork design by Shinique Smith for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Station, concourse level
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Eileen Cowin for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Station, platform level
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Kim Schoenstadt for Fairview Heights Station
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Kenturah Davis for Downtown Inglewood Station
Detail of in-progress artwork design by Deanna Erdmann for Leimert Park Station, platform level
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