Artwork for Westlake/MacArthur Park station recognized as one of the nation’s best


MacArthur Park: Urban Oasis (pictured above) is a series of hand-glazed porcelain mosaic artworks at Westlake/MacArthur Park Station. Commissioned by the Metro art program, the artwork was designed by LA artist Sonia Romero.

Porcelain mosaic murals by Sonia Romero depicting urban life around MacArthur Park have been named one of best public art projects in the United States by the organization Americans for the Arts. The announcement was delivered on June 16, during the Americans for the Arts annual convention in San Diego.

MacArthur Park: Urban Oasis was one of 47 artworks selected from over 400 competitors nationwide.

Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization advancing the arts in America. Their Public Art Network Year in Review is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects.   

The mural above depicts the original father and son owners of Langer's Deli, which borders MacArthur Park. The father passed away shortly after the artwork was produced, but his image, alongside the image of his son, continues to anchor the mural to the deeply rooted community surrounding the station.

For MacArthur Park: Urban Oasis, Romero produced original linoleum cut artworks that rendered evocative scenes from the landmark Los Angeles park and adjacent historical buildings. The artworks were translated into thirteen hand-glazed porcelain mosaic panels by highly specialized artisans at Mosaika Art & Design.

Echoing the park’s bisection by Wilshire Boulevard, the mural panels were divided into two parallel facing walls at the mezzanine level. The artwork imagery reflects daily life in the iconic landscape on both sides of the park. More importantly, they connect Metro customers with the area’s historic roots as riders journey through the station. 

“I found the story of the park and its fluctuating energy stimulating and intriguing,” says Romero. “I developed my concept around the idea that MacArthur Park is an urban oasis. It was my goal to create a public work, which celebrated the 120-year-old history of MacArthur Park and the people who use it.”

Sonia Romero in her Northeast LA studio. Photo by Gary Leonard.

Romero holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Her exhibitions include the inaugural solo exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College (on view through August 19), a solo show at Avenue 50 Studio and a printmaking retrospective at Self Help Graphics.

Romero also recently completed a public art piece, Tierra del Sol, which hangs in the entry hall of the Dennis P. Zine community center in Canoga Park. Along with offering community art workshops for the HeArt Project, she has also worked with youth to complete four large-scale art installations at East LA swimming pools for the LA County Arts Commission.

Bas relief surrounding the medallion imagery recalls the delicately crafted architectural features of neighboring buildings.

5 replies

  1. I love the typographic installation at Wilshire and Vermont.

    It’s clean and modern.

    Of all the stations, however, the Soto station is my personal favorite.

  2. congrats MetroLA! There are a lot of nicely-designed subway stations- the stations around Hollywood come to mind.

  3. If only, if only, all of Metro art was as attractive, readable, vernacularly appropriate and accessible as this fine project.

    I could go on and on: the giant lobster claw outside Vermont and Santa Monica, the uninteresting photographs at Wilshire and Normandie that have been up for several years, the ugly car tiles at Hollywood, and worst of all, the ‘playful’ typographic tile pillars at Wilshire and Vermont. Then there’s the Gold Line art, which except for Chinatown ranges from the innocuous to the silly…

    Metro has such great graphics, so someone with a good eye is in a decision-making role. Why do they let the art establishment tell them to put childish or highly conceptual ‘art’ in the public spaces?