Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Subway Series - "Blooming", 59th and Lex, mosaic by Elizabeth Murray

All work and no play may make Bonnie a boring blogger, as I said in my last post, but tonight it's also given me the idea to add to my poor neglected "Subway Series" with a post I've been meaning to do for a very long time. For those who aren't up on baseball lingo, in normal NYC parlance, a subway series is a set of games between our two hometown teams, the Yankees and the Mets, but here on Frogma, I had at some point thought it would be really neat to do a set of posts about the beautiful art installations you see in many of NYC's subway stations.

It was a fun idea. I haven't done as much with it as I'd hoped to, mostly because being a smartphone resistor means not having a camera perpetually on-hand, but in December 2015, my friend Mandy and I had gone for our annual holiday window viewing and finished that off with the carol service at the Brick Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side, where I sang with the choir until a while after I moved to Brooklyn, it was a really good choir and I loved singing with them, but the commute got to be a bit much. I have been back for a couple of carol services, which are lovely, and it worked out really nicely for Mandy and me to attend that day.

This took us through the subway station at 59th and Lexington, which may very well have been where I came up with the "subway series" idea, and of course I had my camera for the windows, and Mandy's very patient when I need to make a random picturetaking stop. This particular station is a standout for me because I used to travel through it every day on my way to work, and the before-and-after contrast between how it was then and now is really something.

I was working at Carnegie Hall when I moved to the Upper East Side, and my morning commute involved transferring at this station from the 4, 5, or 6 that I would catch at 86th and Lexington to the N or the R that would get me to Carnegie Hall (yes, that is ALSO how you get to Carnegie Hall). The platforms are in different parts of the station and to get from one to the other, you would go through a big squarish mezzanine area. Now at that time, that station was one of the victims of circa 70's "decor", and UGH, the mezzanine was hideous. The walls were covered with rectangular tiles of what I would call operating room green, darkened with the grime of years and halfheartedly lit by half-broken fluo
rescent light fixtures.

Not a particularly heartening place to walk through, but hey, it was a commute, it doesn't have to be pretty.

Luckily for folks who have that commute today, though, at some point it got to be 59th and Lex's turn for an MTA Arts for Transit makeover - and what a job Elizabeth Murray, the artist who got the commission, did! I don't get to the Upper East Side much anymore, and I can't remember what sent me up there for the first time after the installation was done, but the first time I went through there after the installation, I think my jaw actually may have dropped when I walked into what had been the dreariest chamber and found the walls covered with shining swirling mosaic - it was like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes Technicolor! I did have one hint that things had changed in the form of a stray coffee cup like the one shown above, I saw that in the corridor as I approached the mezzanine and I did take it as a clue that things might have changed since my last trip through there, but I was still surprised at the beautiful colors that had replaced the old dirty bluish-grayish-greenish. Absolutely spectacular. I didn't have a camera that day, but I think that it was that day that I thought of sharing some of the subway art I enjoyed. This one took me a while, but here it is at last!

Click here to read more about the art and the artist. Click on the first photo for a slideshow view.  


Unknown said...

Thanks for pointing out the beautiful art. I run through that subway at least once a month and don't even look! I will now.

Karen @BakingInATornado.com said...

What an amazing job she did. Just like in airports, it's so much more pleasant to pass through with something beautiful to look at.

bonnie said...

I wish I could find something about how she made it - it's a big space and there must be millions of tiles!

Alana said...

I haven't ridden the subway since 2013 (and haven't been to the city since 2015) looks like I have some photography to catch up on. Shared!

bonnie said...

Thanks, glad you liked it!