Best Whimsical Public Aerospace Art

Pity the Metro Green Line’s Aviation Station, a light-rail platform next to the 105 freeway that has been thoroughly derided on the grounds that, despite the name, it doesn’t quite deliver passengers into Los Angeles International Airport. (The name refers to the boulevard, not the mode of transportation.) Disgruntled rail riders have to disembark, walk down to street level and catch a shuttle bus for the final one-mile leg into LAX. With so much disappointment, it’s hard to focus on the public art that sits on the platform, a send-up of the suburban South Bay of the past, back in the day when aerospace ruled.

Artist Richard Turner transformed the elevated Aviation Station platform — located a mile from the midcentury housing tracts of Inglewood and Westchester — into an outdoor simulacrum of the suburban living room, with concrete lounge chairs and coffee tables, as well as carpets composed of terrazzo tile. Kidney-bean shapes adorn the staircases that run to street level, where flagstone retaining walls serve as planters for the station’s landscaping.

The work continues the MTA’s tradition of whimsy in public art, a portfolio that includes metallic angels, designed by ceramist Peter Shire, floating high above the superdeep escalator of the Metro Red Line’s Wilshire/Vermont Station; boulders suspended above the Red Line stop at Vermont and Beverly; and men rendered in fiberglass, soaring overhead in Jonathan Borofsky’s I Dreamed I Could Fly, in the Red Line’s Civic Center Station.

The Aviation Station, for the most part, has its thoughts — if not its concrete furniture — planted firmly on the ground. There are a few ominous passages printed on the station’s living-room windows written by Jack Kerouac, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes and William Burroughs. But overall the experience is more Flintstones, less philosophy. And that whimsy makes the whole hopping-on-a-shuttle-bus thing a bit less dreary.


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