At about noon a few days ago, a 53-foot flatbed semi-trailer filled with art panels pulled up to the Expo Line construction yard. The delivery marked the end of the fabrication phase for 80 of the 176 panels that will be displayed above the entrances and seating areas at 10 Expo Line stations.
The Expo Line had been designed to have standardized station layouts and a canopy that spanned much of the platform. Space for artwork was limited. Metro art program staff therefore developed a tailored approach to fit the specific needs of the project and identified eight to 24 locations for art panels at each station. Visible from the Expo Line platforms as well as sidewalks, streets and bike lanes, the art panels will add a continuous visual narrative describing the rail line as it moves through various neighborhoods. Durable materials ensure the artwork is resistant to graffiti and color fading.
Metro art program staff worked with the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority to design the art panel attachment details. Art program staff hoisted ladders at the station platforms to measure hundreds of brackets to ensure the framed artwork would fit perfectly into attachments at each location.
Metro art program staff also spent several months overseeing the artwork fabrication, working with the artists to develop the finer details of the mosaic or tile. Finally, the artwork was crated and delivered to a frame fabrication firm that also assembled the artwork within the painted frames. Fabrication required over one ton of cement backer board. Piecing together mosaic often utilized more than eighty face-mounted segments for a single art panel.
Ronald Llanos’ designs for Expo/Western Station depict illustrations of people engaged in city life translated into ceramic mosaic. Each tile was glazed by an artisan and cut into tiny pieces to create a rhythmic flow across the surface of the panel.
Jessica McCoy’s watercolor paintings for Expo/Vermont Station, born from photographs of the local neighborhood, are also translated into ceramic mosaic. Highly specialized artisans mixed 1,500 custom colors to replicate the complex hues in the paintings. 5,650 hand-glazed tiles were snipped into tiny pieces to create the art panels.