Metro Art rendezvous: May art tours

Artwork by Sheila Klein at Hollywood/Highland Station. Titled Underground Girl, the artwork frames the station interior as an undulating, organic and sensual space. Metro Art Tours begin at this station on the first Thursday and first Saturday of each month.

Artwork by Sheila Klein at Hollywood/Highland Station. Titled Underground Girl, the artwork frames the station interior as an undulating, organic and sensual space. Metro Art Tours begin at this station on the first Thursday and first Saturday of each month.

Did you know that Metro has worked with more than 300 artists to enhance nearly 100 stations in the Metro system? For those adventurous types out there, Metro offers walking tours that provide insights into the artworks, the artists who created them and the processes of making them. Explore the Metro system and learn a bit about Los Angeles County’s most far reaching art gallery.

Upcoming tours:

Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m. Meet at the street level entrance to the Hollywood/Highland Metro Rail Station on Hollywood Bl near the corner with Highland Ave.

Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. Meet at the street level entrance to the Hollywood/Highland Metro Rail Station on Hollywood Bl near the corner with Highland Ave.

Sunday, May 5 at 10 a.m. Meet at the information booth inside the entrance to historic Union Station at 900 Alameda St in Downtown Los Angeles. 

For directions and details about Metro Art Tours, visit metro.net/art and click on Art Tours.

While docent programs are commonly found at museums around the world, Metro is the first transit agency to benefit from such a program.

Free tours are offered the first Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of every month and focus on the artwork along the Red Line (special request tours of other lines, including the Expo Line, can be arranged by calling 213.922.2738). The tours are round trip and last approximately two hours. Tours are led by trained Metro Art Docent Council volunteers. No reservations are required! Look for safety vest-wearing docents at the meetup spot.

‘Dreaming’ in full color

Detail of City of Dreams/River of History before maintenance work. The 80 foot long mural by Richard Wyatt is located in Union Station’s East Portal.

Detail of City of Dreams/River of History before maintenance work. The 80 foot long mural by Richard Wyatt is located in Union Station’s East Portal.

View of City of Dreams/River of History following maintenance work. The mural surface, painted aluminum honeycomb panels, was thoroughly dusted and pigeon—ahem!—deposits were removed.

View of City of Dreams/River of History following maintenance work. The mural surface, painted aluminum honeycomb panels, was thoroughly dusted and pigeon—ahem!—deposits were removed.

Following an intricate maintenance effort last week, the artwork City of Dreams/River of History, a mural by Los Angeles based artist Richard Wyatt, has returned to its original luster.

City of Dreams is part of an art grouping in Union Station’s East Portal that was installed in 1996. To keep it looking bright and new, specialized Metro Art staff perched high above the mural (with proper safety equipment, of course) used compressed air and 30-foot-long poles outfitted with soft lambs wool to delicately dust the surface.

Commuters and visitors to Union Station will continue to be greeted by these ten outstanding — now refreshed — faces, representing Native Americans and settlers of the LA basin, as well as contemporary Angelenos.

Metro Art staff oversaw a major cleaning and varnishing effort by art conservators in 2004.

To learn more about the other artworks accompanying City of Dreams, including a 7,500-gallon aquarium, river bench and artifact mound containing artifacts excavated from the original Chinatown, go here.

View more images of the mural below:

Mural with sun filtering through the glass dome. Pigeon culprits survey the scene.

Mural with sun filtering through the glass dome. Pigeon culprits survey the scene.

Specialized Metro Art staff work from above the mural in the wee hours, to contain dust particles, and not hinder the flow of transit patrons below.

Specialized Metro Art staff work from above the mural in the wee hours, to contain dust particles, and not hinder the flow of transit patrons below.

Specialized Metro Art staff in action

Specialized Metro Art staff in action

The refreshed mural, one day following maintenance.

The refreshed mural, one day following maintenance.

See Metro Art as you CicLAvia to the Sea

Glass mosaic artwork, designed by artist Tom LaDuke, at Culver City Station.

One of eight glass mosaic art panels, featuring artwork by Tom LaDuke on the station platform at Culver City Station.

This Sunday, when you’re walking, cycling, skating or otherwise playing your way through the streets at CicLAvia, be sure to check out bounties of art along the way! The 15-mile CicLAvia route – the longest yet – connects with six Metro Rail stations, each featuring artwork created specifically for the site. (See map with Metro stations here. Explore Metro Art here.)

Five of the six stations are in downtown Los Angeles and the sixth is in Culver City, the current Expo Line terminus, which features some of the newest artwork in the Metro system.

So here’s an idea: Take Metro to CicLAvia (Expo, Red, Purple, Blue or Gold Lines)  and explore L.A.’s unique artistic landscape along the way. Here’s a peek at the art in stations touching the CicLAvia route — from downtown L.A. to Venice Beach.

Union Station

Mural by Richard Wyatt at Union Station's East Portal.

Eighty foot long mural by Richard Wyatt at Union Station. The mural is part of a grouping of artworks in the East Portal, which also includes an aquarium and river bench.

Civic Center Station

Artwork by Faith Ringgold at Civic Center Station

One of 52 smalti (glass) mosaic artworks by Faith Ringgold.  The mosaics are located across four mezzanine walls at Civic Center Station.

Pershing Square Station

Neon artwork by Stephen Antonakos at Pershing Square Station

One of 12 neon sculptures by Stephen Antonakos at Pershing Square Station.

7th Street/Metro Center Station

Tile artwork by Joyce Kozloff at 7th St/Metro Center Station

Detail, one of two ceramic tile murals by Joyce Kozloff. The artworks are located on the mezzanine level at 7th St/Metro Center Station.

Westlake/MacArthur Park Station

Detail of artwork by Sonia Romero at Westlake/MacArthur Station

One of 13 ceramic mosaic tile artworks by Sonia Romero. The mosaics are located on two facing mezzanine walls at Westlake/MacArthur Park Station.

Culver City Station

Two of 8 glass mosaic art panels by Tom LaDuke at Culver City Station.

Two of eight glass mosaic artworks by Tom LaDuke at Culver City Station.

Metro operator places first in Southern California Regional Bus Roadeo

The Southern California Regional Bus Roadeo was held last Saturday, April 13 at OCTA in Santa Ana. Metro bus operator Mark Holland came in first place in the Overall Bus Operator competition, beating out operators from eleven other transit agencies. Metro’s maintenance team came in third out of the four maintenance properties that competed.

The next competition is the APTA International Bus Roadeo in Indianapolis, Indiana, which will take place the first week of May. Metro won the Grand Championship in 2007 and 2009 and hopes to bring the title back again this year.

Inglewood Through the Eyes of Wakana Kimura

Detail of artwork design by Wakana Kimura. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Detail of artwork design by Wakana Kimura. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Four artists have designed new posters for the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists series highlighting Metro accessible destinations. One of the artists, Wakana Kimura, discusses her original artwork celebrating Inglewood and what she hopes to share with transit riders who see the poster on Metro buses and trains in the coming months.

Inglewood poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Inglewood poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Now in its tenth year, the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore destinations served by the agency.

The four new posters will bring the series to a total of 29 neighborhoods featured. Explore Through the Eyes of Artists posters.

Wakana Kimura in her Inglewood studio.

Wakana Kimura in her Inglewood studio.

What is your connection with Inglewood and how did you choose this imagery to represent the city?  

I had my studio in Inglewood while I was a student at the nearby Otis College of Art and Design. For this project I wanted to translate the environment of Inglewood, the experience of the place. I felt a circular energy there and wanted to capture that.

You were inspired by the circle form as you approached your poster design. Can you elaborate on that?

Circles and dots permeate my work. After I was awarded the poster project I began my research and drove around the area.

One day last year I was visiting the Hollywood Park race track and parked so I could make some notes. I had just stopped by Randy’s Donuts—next door to my former studio—and was sitting in my car, donut in hand, when there was a solar eclipse! Earlier, from my vantage point underneath the LAX Airport flight path, it appeared that planes were flying through the big donut (Randy’s). The cycle of planes taking off and landing was itself a form of circle.

So the circle became a dominant motif in my design for the poster. Also, LAX was my entry point into LA so I wanted to include that imagery. When I see planes landing I wonder where they’re coming from. Maybe from Japan.

I wrote a poem about Inglewood as I was developing the concept and imagery for the poster:

Inglewood:  a myriad of activities. I see an excitement in the city. When I ordered a donut, it became my megaphone, amplifying variations of sound that reflected the oval racetrack, the flight path of the airplane above and transcended to the eclipse and then bounced back to me, my shadow and the oval shadow of the donut in my hand.

Tell me about your artistic practice more generally (materials, themes, ideas).

In my artwork my tools are ink, brush, pen, sharpie, my fingers, the edge of a piece of paper. I studied oil painting on canvas in Japan but now I prefer working on paper. With paper I have to take responsibility for every mark I make. Paper is less forgiving than other surfaces. But I view all marks as adding to the harmony of an artwork.

I desperately try to create beautiful objects. I try to draw something beautiful again and again every moment, but my sense of beauty is always changing. I try to craw something beautiful; however, I realize that it is impossible to make something permanently attractive. Every day I draw till I feel satisfied, but it looks totally different the day after. I learned my feelings and sense of value were not concrete and I myself cannot trust my own sense of beauty. I critique my sense of beauty in the moment. Thus, my pursuit of beauty and in the moment started, and this pursuit will keep me creating forever.

How do you feel about having your work seen in the public realm of transit?

I’ve never had a painting move around. I wanted to translate the energy of Inglewood onto paper and now the poster is literally moving around! It was important to include literal and abstract elements, and for the imagery to remain accessible to anyone looking at it. I see myself as an interpreter through color. Language isn’t stable anyway. Painting can express more than my words.

Metro staff provides preview of coming year’s budget

Metro officials gave a brief preview of the agency’s budget that will soon be released for fiscal year 2013-14 to the Board of Director’s Planning Committee on Wednesday afternoon. A few highlights that may interest Source readers:

•The budget is balanced without a fare increase.

•The budget proposes an increase in Orange Line service to relieve mid-day crowding.

•The budget proposes additional late night service for the Expo and Gold lines.

•The budget proposes improved headways for weekend service on all Metro Rail lines. CEO Art Leahy said that some shorter trains will be used; the idea is to make service more frequent and convenient to grow ridership. Longer trains then could be used as the new rail cars that Metro ordered last year are delivered.

•The budget proposes $20 million to address Blue Line safety issues.

•The budget proposes $261 million for deferred maintenance of Metro buses, trains and facilities. The budget also includes a new policy to ensure that maintenance is not deferred in the future.

•The budget proposes systemwide camera/video enhancements for improved security on the Metro system.

•Staff said that the proposed overall budget will be $4.9 billion for 2013-14.

•The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to consider and vote on the budget in late May. There will be a public hearing on May 15. We’ll have more details on The Source after the draft budget is publicly released.


March ridership numbers; Expo Line continues to climb and numbers remain strong for Metro Rail

March ridership graphs

Ridership estimates for Metro buses and rail lines in March have been released; the above charts show the current trends. The takeaway in one sentence: ridership for the Expo Line continues to climb, ridership across the rail system remains strong and bus numbers continue to be flat.

If you would like to see charts with stats recorded in March of the past three years for the rail lines and bus system, please click here.

Metro Rail saw 359,855 average weekday boardings in March 2013 compared to 294,801 in March 2011 — a significant increase. The record for average weekday ridership was 362,091, set in November of last year 362,904 set in June of last year.

Pico Rivera through the eyes of Ramon Ramirez

Artwork design by Ramon Ramirez. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Artwork design by Ramon Ramirez. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Four artists have designed new posters for the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists series highlighting Metro accessible destinations. In the conversation below, one of the artists, Ramon Ramirez, discusses his original artwork celebrating Pico Rivera and what he hopes to share with transit riders who see the poster on Metro buses and trains in the coming months.

Pico Rivera poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Pico Rivera poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Now in its tenth year, the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore destinations served by the agency.

The four new posters will bring the series to a total of 29 neighborhoods featured. Explore Through the Eyes of Artists posters.

Ramon Ramirez in his Pico Rivera studio. His poster design is visible pinned to the wall behind him.

Ramon Ramirez in his Pico Rivera studio. His poster design is visible pinned to the wall behind him.

You live and work in the Pico Rivera area—how did you choose this imagery to represent the city?  

I grew up in East L.A., and after attending college in the Bay Area, where I studied art and architecture, I moved to Pico Rivera. I paint from memory based on what I see. For my poster on Pico Rivera I wanted to focus on Whittier Boulevard because it bridges the city of Whittier, East L.A. and downtown. The downtown skyline was always present in the visual landscape of my childhood. As a kid I spent a lot of time on Whittier, going to movies and other shops with my family. The poster pictures a commercial stretch that evokes the boulevard, but could also be a similar street in another L.A. neighborhood. I want the viewer to experience that kind of familiarity.

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New substations being installed on the Blue Line

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The pictures show Metro’s traction power crew pulling new high-voltage cables and installing new substations for the Metro Blue Line. This is an ARRA-funded project to replace all 20 Blue Line traction power substations, which power the trains through overhead wires with modern, energy efficient substations.

So far, Metro has replaced 16 substations. The pictures are from the 17th substation at Pacific Coast Highway substation in Long Beach, meaning the project is now approximately 85% complete. Metro has perfected the site work so that the removal and replacement of each substation does not create any major disruptions to Blue Line service.

Metro in Overdrive: Transportation Library & Archive resources featured in new Getty exhibit

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The Metro Transportation Library & Archive is participating in a landmark joint exhibit of the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute.

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs The Future, 1940-1990, which runs from April 9 through July 21, 2013, is part of Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture In L.A.

The exhibit is the first major exhibition to survey Los Angeles’ complex urban landscape and diverse architectural innovations. Drawings, photographs, models, films, animations, oral histories and ephemera illustrate the complex dimensions of L.A.’s rich and often underappreciated built environment.

Library & Archive staff has been working with the Getty for the past year in preparation for this exhibit. Several historic items from the Archive have been lent to the Getty for display, along with additional items for the exhibit catalog publication as well as film footage that runs in the Overdrive exhibit.

The exhibit moves on to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. later this year.

More information on the exhibit and Metro’s contributions to it can be found on the Research Library’s Primary Resources Blog.