ARCHIVE: BUS STOP ART
PUBLIC ART FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
As part of the Town's 2018 BRT Pilot Project, Arlington Public Art enlisted five artists to transform five bus shelters into works of art. Each one was unique, reflecting the style and interests of each artist. Together, the bus shelters celebrated the Town’s initiative to improve bus service so people can leave their cars at home. Shared themes included protecting the environment, connecting with neighbors, and enlivening the experience of waiting for the bus.
Arlington’s Eileen deRosas, a ceramic artist known for her paintings of animals on plates and pitchers, covered her shelter with portraits of neighborhood wildlife: a coyote, skunk, rabbit, and turtle make their way across the glass, reminding us that taking the bus helps protect the environment. Johnny Lapham, also from Arlington, was invited to expand a project he did to transform the Arlington Service Station with polka dots. Using 80 painted plywood discs, he created the impression that polka dots jumped off the gas station canopy, traveled down the sidewalk, and landed on the bus shelter like something in a Dr. Seuss story.
Two artists visiting from neighboring Somerville designed graphics that were printed on transparent film. James Weinberg’s depiction of nature changing through the seasons featured complex layered patterns and colors that glowed when the sun came through. Sneha Shrestha, who goes by Imagine when painting her colorful street art murals, placed the names of local streets inside two intersecting circles; bus riders were invited to mark their destination or the street where they lived with a dot. She hoped to prompt conversation between strangers, and envisioned that the dots would add up to create a visual map of activity in Arlington.
Boston artists Claudia Ravaschiere and Mike Moss brought their translucent Plexiglas butterflies to the Minuteman Bikeway last year. Continuing their interest in new materials and translucent effects they researched dichroic film and selected a version that transformed the light into unexpected and fugitive colors – blue, magenta, orange and purple – that are both transparent and reflective. The colors shifted with your movement; the effect was magical, as if you had stepped into a soap bubble.
As part of this public transportation/public art project, several of the artists created work on walls along the bus route, activating the Mass Ave corridor. James Weinberg painted a landmark mural on the side of Za Restaurant at the entrance of Arlington's Cultural District in East Arlington. Eileen de Rosas created a large paste-up, a temporary mural printed on paper and glued to the walls of the Fox Library with wall paper paste.
The project was curated by Cecily Miller, working in collaboration with Ali Carter, the Town’s Economic Development Coordinator. It was funded by a generous grant from the Barr Foundation. Arlington Public Art, now a committee of the Arlington Commission for Art and Culture, is grateful to the Town’s Planning and Community Development Department and its Director Jenny Raitt for this opportunity to integrate art into an important initiative in improving transportation infrastructure and service.
Serving the morning commute of MBTA buses, the BRT pilot created a dedicated bus lane on Mass. Avenue, eastbound, from Varnum Street to Alewife Brook Parkway, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for one month. October 9th – November 9th, 2018. Our goal was to support the success of the BRT pilot and enhance the experience of thousands of bus riders!
Funded by the Barr Foundation. Many thanks to our wonderful partners, the Town of Arlington Department of Planning and Community Development and the MBTA!