The addition of more public transportation infrastructure is worth celebrating in itself, but when it comes to the three stations of the newly opened downtown Regional Connector system, the journey is not just the destination—it’s an exhibition. Across the street levels, entrances, passageways, and platforms of the shiny new depots, eight artists were commissioned by Metro Art to create permanent, site-specific installations, along with a further pair of artists whose work inaugurates two of those stations’ rotating lightbox exhibition panels.

The artists were chosen through an open competition in which some 1,200 people applied to a panel of institutional and independent arts professionals. In a gentle twist, the process did not call for over-specific proposals, but rather for a more general presentation of each artist’s aesthetic and core practice principles. Essentially, artists were chosen first, and only then were the projects developed with them—over a period of seven years—rather than the typical other way around. The extra time and care for which this allowed absolutely manifests in the works, all of which result from thoughtful direct conversation with the places they occupy.

Extremely eclectic in visual styles ranging from the photojournalistic to the cosmic, geological, ethereal, meditative, folksy, poetic, prismatic, and political, nevertheless the cohort all share one directive—local storytelling. Each in their way and often with intentional community engagement, intensive research, and material collaborations, the artists found elements of the area’s and specific station sites’ lengthy and dynamic histories and created their work to explore, enshrine, and honor it—all within the context of the new architecture and the way current visitors and residents use the neighborhoods. Traveling between and among the Regional Connector’s sites, one finds it’s the art that’s forging deeper regional connections.

metro art

Clare Rojas: Harmony | Little Tokyo Arts District Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Little Tokyo/Arts District Station

Clare RojasHarmony announces the entrance plaza with a street-level installation of translucent glass panels holding iridescent, saturated color schemes that flicker between abstraction and the natural landscape. Its projections of light, hue, and shape change with the time of day as it both activates the surrounding sidewalk for all passersby and beckons from above for any passengers leaving the station. Rojas’ delicate synthesis of urban architecture and the pace of city life with a more bucolic language of water, weather, and the turning of the earth itself creates a gently glowing atmospheric nod to the energy that flows through public spaces.

Audrey Chan Will Power Allegory Little Tokyo Arts District Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Audrey Chan: Will Power Allegory | Little Tokyo Arts District Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Audrey Chan’s 168-foot long porcelain, enamel, and steel mural Will Power Allegory lines the tracks on both sides of the station’s central platform with a far more specific illustrated narrative, literally holding space for relational aspects and real figures from the area’s history. The work is divided into 14 individual panels, each with a dedicated story to tell, but linked visually and narratively by a motif of civic marches and demonstrations along the bottom edge of them all. In addition to more canonical cultural and political milestones, Chan’s less conventional pantheon includes once and future landmarks like the punk rock artists’ hangout Atomic Cafe, the storied music and art mecca of the American Hotel, and the unique local nonprofit gallery and housing outpost Art Share L.A.

Audrey Chan Will Power Allegory Little Tokyo Arts District Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art detail

Audrey Chan: Will Power Allegory | Little Tokyo Arts District Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

With echoes of WPA-era didactic murals and an unflinching presentation of Japanese American incarceration, erasure of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, and the displacement and disastrous neglect facing residents of Skid Row, Chan does a good job of balancing celebration with education and critique in a special nod to generations of activists who have fought to make, preserve, and improve these unique city enclaves.

Andrea Bowers The People United Historic Broadway Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Andrea Bowers: The People United | Historic Broadway Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Historic Broadway Station

Andrea Bowers The People United (“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” Sergio Ortega and Quilapayun; “Brown Beret 13 Point Political Program,” La Causa) also honors the neighborhood’s traditions of policy and protest, playing off the fact that with City Hall, LAPD HQ, the Hall of Justice, the U.S. Courthouse, and other seats of local, state, and federal power are all within a few blocks of the station. A rectilinear glass entrance enclosure holds a stylized array of fonts and colors exploring texts that read in English and Spanish the phrases, “The people united will never be divided,” and, “By independence we mean the right to self-determination, self-government, and freedom.” Through some magic trick of engineering and craft, the text is legible from both sides of the glass, so that there is no “wrong way” to encounter its message, and thus as public art it reminds locals of the significance of where they live, and as a public concourse it welcomes the arrival of those with some truth to speak to power.

Clarence Williams Migrations Historic Broadway Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Clarence Williams: Migrations | Historic Broadway Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Downstairs, a pensive suite of black and white images by photographer Clarence Williams, collaboratively paired with haikus by poet Ursula Rucker, lines both sides of the platform. Migrations is a moving account of the kinds of events that precipitate population migration—natural, political, social, and economic disasters that prompt all kinds of people to go in search of a better life “elsewhere.” As the piece chronicles, so often that “elsewhere” is a place like Los Angeles, both welcoming and daunting, full of opportunity, promise, and its own pernicious obstacles. “The artwork will speak to downtown L.A.’s role as an entry point for so many types of people,” Williams wrote in a statement. “The quintessential place for new beginnings.”

Clarence Williams Migrations Historic Broadway Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Clarence Williams: Migrations | Historic Broadway Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Mark Steven Greenfield Red Car Requiem Historic Broadway Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Mark Steven Greenfield: Red Car Requiem | Historic Broadway Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Upstairs on the landing, the 148 feet of Mark Steven Greenfield’s glass tile mosaic Red Car Requiem has a stretch of otherwise dead space all to itself; but its dynamic procession of spiked wheels, motion lines, and satellites is the only thing the room needs. In a fiery palette of red, orange, and yellow hues, made of light-catching glass bits that glisten as the viewer moves by, Greenfield devised a pattern motif based on the ticket stubs from the old Pacific Electric Railway Company’s electric streetcars—commonly called the “red cars.” In use from 1901-61, they were central to the city’s sprawling development, but were discontinued with the advent of car culture, to the environmental, social, and aesthetic detriment of all. The work’s combination of nostalgia and optimism, with the spirit of Red Grooms at Grand Central on its shoulder, recalls the romance of what was lost, but fêtes its resurrection in a newly re-expanding train system.

Ralph Gilbert Performance on the Street of LA Historic Broadway Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art detail 1

Ralph Gilbert: Performance on the Streets of L.A. | Historic Broadway Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Nearby, on a wide upper stairway landing with natural light streaming from its top, Ralph Gilbert’s Performance on the Streets of LA fills five large lightboxes—part of a rotating exhibition scheme on such illuminated panels which is already in place in many existing stations, which now includes two of the three new stations as well. His images come from original paintings of street performers around Hollywood Boulevard, Olvera Street, Union Station, Echo Park Lake, Pershing Square, and the Venice Boardwalk. The compositions depict these familiar scenes with thick, warm texture and their light-saturated colors are emotional, appealing, and awash in a relatable love for the entire city.

Samira Yamin All is Flux Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Samira Yamin: All is Flux | Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Grand Ave. Arts/Bunker Hill Station 

With its topmost egress at street level with the Broad, MOCA, Colburn School, Disney Hall and its Bridge with a view north toward the rest of the Grand Avenue institutions, it’s no wonder this would be the artsiest of the three new stations. All three permanent pieces as well as the inaugural lightbox installation are nuanced paradoxes marrying the most ethereal of energies with the most massive of physicalities, and all speak directly to the fact of motion and time’s passage within the site.

Mungo Thomson Negative Space STScI 2015 02 Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Mungo Thomson: Negative Space STScI-2015-02 | Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Mungo Thomson placed two large porcelain, enamel, and steel square murals against pillars above the platform. Though visible from below, they are best viewed from the upper walkway, which suits their ethereal, lofty quality. With their conceptual linkage of tunneling and telescoping, the images evoke the night sky and penumbrous meteorology of their source images—the almost 7,400 exposures from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope fused in Negative Space (STScI-2015-02) create windows to a second sky, farther below the earth than any other Metro station.

Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Ann Hamilton: over-under-over | Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Samira Yamin All Is Flux is also a disembodied meditation on forces of nature, using the fractal movements of water and air as an analogy for people moving through time and space. Her series of five lightboxes present black and white currents which evoke both drawing and photography in their quest to express chaos in form and freeze motion in place. The slightly consternating subtly of this station’s pieces continues with Ann Hamilton’s over-under-over—a two-story, hand-drawn pattern field coating the glass of the vertical entrance and its glass elevators. It is visible as an oceanic blur as one rises and descends, resolving into an almost fabric-like texture when one is still—so quiet that one more senses than sees it.

Pearl C. Hsiung High Prismatic Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station Photo courtesy of Metro Art

Pearl C. Hsiung: High Prismatic | Grand Ave. Arts Bunker Hill Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Easily the most compelling of the installations is the breathtaking textured glass mosaic by Pearl C. Hsiung in the extremely vertical elevator lobby. The nuanced and monumental High Prismatic touches on the millennia, centuries, and decades of the site’s geological, anthropological, and social histories. As its “geyser” rises more than 60 feet from its grounded, textured landing up towards its moonlit soulful canopy, the work is almost cathedral-like in effect, encouraging extended contemplation even among busy commuters, and pointed in its reminder that Bunker Hill was a lot of things before it was a subway station. Natural resource, indigenous land, locus of invasion and colonization, valuable real estate, forum of modern culture and creativity—and now a whole new kind of hub with a whole new history being written every day.

Jasmine Delgado Studio City

Jasmine Delgado: Studio City (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Union Station Passageway Lightboxes

Part of the long-standing citywide lightbox exhibition scheme, Journeys Continued: LA Communities Through the Eyes of Artists was recently unveiled at Union Station in its wide Passageway corridor. Featuring eclectic artwork by 12 Los Angeles-based artists, each depicting their neighborhoods. Since 2001, the Metro Art Lightbox Exhibition Program has produced a series of rotating illuminated presentations at 7th St/Metro Center, Hollywood/Highland, Universal/Studio City, Vermont/Beverly, Wilshire/Normandie—and now Historic Broadway and Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill. In 2003, the Through the Eyes of Artists series began; in 2017-18 the exhibition Journeys: LA Communities Through the Eyes of Artists commemorated its progress. Now, Journeys Continued celebrates the anniversaries with the new iteration—and 12 of the project’s 63 artworks now light up the Union Station Passageway.

Journeys Continued Installation view at Union Station Kajsa Sjodin and William Acedo

Journeys Continued… Installation view at Union Station (Photo courtesy of Metro Art)

Kajsa Sjodin San Pedro

Kajsa Sjodin: San Pedro (Courtesy of Metro Art)

Sandra Low San Gabriel

Sandra Low: San Gabriel (Courtesy of Metro Art)

Lindsay Carron Marina del Rey

Lindsay Carron: Marina del Rey (Courtesy of Metro Art)

JaRie Gray South Gate

Ja’Rie Gray: South Gate (Courtesy of Metro Art)

Where to find the artists

Regional Connector Artists: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station: Clare Rojas, Audrey Chan; Historic Broadway Station: Andrea Bowers, Mark Steven Greenfield, Clarence Williams, and Ralph Gilbert; Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill: Ann Hamilton, Mungo Thomson, Pearl C. Hsiung, and Samira Yamin. 

Journeys Continued at Union Station: Ana Serrano (East Hollywood), Ja’Rie Gray (South Gate), Jasmine Delgado (Studio City), Kajsa Sjodin (San Pedro), Levi Ponce (Pacoima), Lindsay Carron (Marina del Rey), Miki Yokoyama (Malibu Bluffs Open Space), Roberto Benavidez (El Sereno), Sandra Low (San Gabriel), Sevag Mahserejian (Canoga Park), Stas Orlovski (Expo Park/USC), William Acedo (Irwindale).


For more information about these and other Metro Art initiatives, visit:

Stas Orlovski Expo Park x USC

Stas Orlovski: Expo Park x USC (Courtesy of Metro Art)












































































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