Friday, February 16, 2007

Metro Arts - WMATA - Art In Transit

Mass transit systems around the world use the power of art to transform utilitarian spaces into places that enrich the everyday lives of transit customers. MetroArts installs artwork in the Metrorail system to make Metro stations more attractive, to provide enjoyment for customers and to contribute to the cultural life of the National Capital area.

The eighty-three-station Metrorail system with its award-winning architecture, is an excellent venue for exhibiting artwork. Since 1995, seventeen works of art have been permanently installed in the system. Eleven art projects are currently in various stages of development for eight existing and three future stations.

L'Enfant Plaza Station in SW WDC features two works, namely Howdy and Ready by photographer William Wegman, that were installed at the station, in 2003, due to its close proximity to NASA Administrative Offices and the National Air and Space Museum.

In June 2006, WMATA - Art in Transit Program in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation issued a call to artists for artwork for the Metrorail system's five Metrorail stations to be built in Virginia as part of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project - Phase 1.

According to the Call to Artists (pdf), with a submission deadline for 30 June 2006 finalists were to have been announced in August. Commission announcements were scheduled for winter 2006.

When checking the websites of Dulles Corridor Rail Association (DCRA), Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and Metro Arts - WMATA - Art In Transit Program I have not yet been able to determine the status of the Dulles Corridor Metroral Project - Phase 1 - Metro Arts (Arts in Transit) Project. I will contact the various coordinators for an update.

Though, for several years, I have contemplated exploring the art on display in the WMATA system it was during my trip to the L'Enfant Post Office, in SW WDC, that the ongoing documentary project would be launched.

Usually on Friday afternoon I venture out into the streets but during this cold February wintry spell I have shifted my focus toward indoor scenarios. In fact, had it not been for the fact that I needed to get to a Post Office to mail a birthday card to my mother and a sympathy card to the Dove family I may would not have gone outside yesterday afternoon.

It was during my trip to the Post Office on Friday, beginning at noon, when standing on the platform at Waterfront Station that I decided that, during this particular winter season, to explore public art in the lobbys of buidlings and the metro system. Similar to my January 2006 Ronald Reagan National Airport project.

When the Green Line train arrived, in the direction of Greenbelt, my intention was to head to the Post Office at Washington Square Building at Farrugut North at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and L Street. Where I hoped to get a few architectural interior shots.

However, as the train neared L'Enfant Station, I remembered that there is a Post Office at L'Enfant Plaza. Exiting the station at the La Promenade Mall exit, I'd began my Metro Arts - WMATA - Arts In Transit Historiographic Project.

Walking through the La Promenade Mall I inquired of a security guard if I could photograph inside the mall. He said "I don't think so!".

Disappointed but not defeated, after dropping off the material at the L'Enfant Plaza PO I stepped outside onto the promenade's plaza and took two exterior shots of the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel.

I had actually contemplated heading over to the Mandarin Oriental with hopes of getting a few architectural interior shots, in preperation of my 2007 Cherry Blossom Festival Project - but, it being colder than a witches tit, I quickly returned to the lower level of the La Promenade Mall, walked back through the corridor which was so familiar to me since when working at the DOT NASSIF Building in the 70's I often frequented its shops and eateries. And, on several occasions, in the 90's, "visited with" a manager who worked at the then Loew's L'Enfant Plaza Hotel.

I sometimes wonder where he is and how he is doing, since we had 'some good times' - at the hotel.

Once back on the Green Line platfrom, waiting for the Branch Avenue train to arrive, I quickly snapped photos of the second of two works, at the L'enfant Plaza Station, by William Wegman.

In years to come, I will always remember that it was during my trip to the L'Enfant Plaza Post Office on a cold February Friday afternoon, in 2007, that I launched my Metro Arts - WMATA - Art In Transit Project.

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