Terrible art coming to a CTA Red Line station near you
Bad art, good walls. The CTA today released renderings of artwork that will be permanently installed at seven rehabbed North Side Red Line stations. It's the kind of stuff you'd normally see being sold for insanely optimistic prices at a coffee shop: cartoonish grass intertwined with a painter's palette, a bright urban landscape, abstract flowery globs. And the agency got it all from Target! Just kidding. The CTA paid $621,000, using Federal Transit Administration funds.
The CTA's commitment to decorating its drab, utilitarian stations with artwork is certainly admirable. But couldn't $600K go a long way toward purchasing or commissioning far more engaging works? Through a partnership with 1st Ward Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, local gallery Johalla Projects has exhibited a number of interesting artists at the Damen Blue Line station over the past three years.
To generate the seven North Side Red Line station pieces, the artists—Thomas Denlinger (Jarvis), Harold Mendez (Morse), Jim Bachor (Thorndale), Kyungmi Shin (Granville), Dorothy Hughes (Berwyn), Lynn Basa (Argyle), DeeDee Morrison (Lawrence)—were put through the bureaucratic ringer: "Nearly 300 artists submitted their credentials and qualifications," the CTA says in a release. "From these applications, an evaluation committee selected 31 artists/artist teams from all submissions based on artistic merit, qualifications and professional recognition of the artists, and the artists’ written statements of interest. The selected artists were provided a summary of community input solicited by the CTA during three public meetings last fall, which was taken into consideration as the artists created and submitted station-specific proposals."
That's a lot of red tape watering down the creative process. Remember that the next time you wonder why a piece of Red Line art looks like it should be adorning the room of a Motel 6.