Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bronx Beauty

I went to College in the Bronx. Fordham University, on 187th and Fordham Road. I ate pizza for four years in Belmont, at some of the best pizza places in the world. I went to the greatest zoo in the world, The Bronx Zoo. I would go to see the greatest team in the world, the New York Yankees.
What I wouldn't see much of in the Bronx was beautiful subway stations.
If I went down to 81st Street, or Chelsea, or maybe Brooklyn Heights, I could see aesthetically pleasing subway stops, with murals, mosaic art and such. But not my Grand Concourse stop on the D train. It was, and is, grungy and kinda scary.
Things are changing. Art has come to the Bronx subway stations. In an article I just read in the New York Times, "Set in Glass, Artist’s Ode to Bronx Life Is Acclaimed," the story starts with these words:
The Freeman Street subway station, a few blocks south of Crotona Park in the south-central Bronx, could not seem farther from the art gallery precincts of Chelsea, SoHo and Dumbo. So New Yorkers might be surprised to know that a series of colored-glass panels on the elevated subway station has been acclaimed as an exemplary work of public art.

The work, known as “The El,” involves six scenes made of thousands of pieces of faceted glass, which are about an inch thick — far thicker than stained glass — and is held together by epoxy, for durability in harsh outdoor environments. The artist, Daniel Hauben, 52, created the work as a commission for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit project, which has placed artworks throughout the nation’s busiest transit system.

In June, “The El” was one of 40 works of art selected by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization that promotes arts in the United States, for recognition in its annual Year in Review overview of exemplary contemporary public art installations.
This makes me really, really happy. And even though I am sitting in a chair thousands of miles away, in the south of Brazil, I feel a little closer to home when I read about beauty in Bronx subway stations.

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