Being an average New Yorker, and by that I mean one without a silver spoon in her mouth, I take the subway. I’ve written about taking the subway a couple of times now. I’ve written about traveling on the subway, how to get anywhere using the subway map, and apps I think every New Yorker needs. But this time I am writing about three new stations that have opened on the Second Avenue subway line. We haven’t had a new station in our 110-year-old system since last year’s extension of the 7 line going to Hudson Yards and the renovation of the World Trade Center station with the building of the beautiful underground Westfield Mall called the Oculus. It’s all over Instagram, I think I see a shot of it every day. I’m going to visit that station again when I’m not rushing to Newark Airport, I promise.
First was the 96th Street Station
I didn’t go outside the stations because the weather was so bad the day that I visited. But I did take a long walk through to get these shots. I noticed on my visit, that these new stations are the least used in the subway system. They were so empty and quiet, especially because the walls are so thick. It was a different experience from the older stations that I usually use.
The whole station is covered in the one piece of art in that beautiful cobalt blue color and bright white, by Sarah Sze titled, “Blueprint On A Landscape”. I think the artwork looks like swept away paper, but I am probably wrong about that. The station is massive! I wonder if there is an echo? I didn’t get a chance to test that out, it was hard to behave and not shout, “Hello!” with those high ceilings. All of the three stations look very much the same in their architectural look on the inside, the only thing that differentiates them is the art and station signs.
Second Stop Was the 86th Street Station
This station is filled with the art of Chuck Close, I was introduced to his art at the Whitney Museum and thought it is so beautiful. I fell in love with his style right away. The pieces are all portraits and the portraits are made of tiny pieces of tile, 4 x 4-inch tiles, rounded tile mosaics. Some are in color and others are black and white. They are over 6 feet tall and about five feet wide, and because of the amount of space in the stations allows you to get very close and see the detail and walk back far enough to see the full portrait properly.
Last Stop at 72nd Street Station
This station was all done by the artist Vik Muniz, the title of the piece is “Perfect Strangers”, and again it is done all in mosaic tiles. It has a group of people, some well-known mixed in, everyone is waiting for the train to arrive to get to their daily activities. Some passengers are impatient, some are bored, some are tourists, some are children going to play, parents with their children and people on their way to work or coming home. It’s really lovely to stare at all the different expressions on the travelers’ faces and the details of the clothing and hair.
I think that the choice of artists and the design of the stations fit perfectly together. It is like a linear museum that you only have to pay train fare to get entry to. These are the newest, but not the only representation of great art in the New York City Subway system. For more beautiful pieces of art, you can follow the MTA Arts and Design account on Instagram here. Does your city have a lot of public art in the transit system that you appreciate? Tell me about it!
Until our next rendezvous…