Art in the open: CTA edition

  • The CTA has selected Theaster Gates to create work for the 95th Street Red Line station.
The CTA has selected Theaster Gates to create work for the 95th Street Red…
July 15, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

Pretty soon the CTA may have to be spelled M-C-A—the acronym for the Museum of Contemporary Art near Water Tower Place.

The CTA is adding to its collection of more than 50 pieces of artwork at 40-plus stations. The CTA board on Monday approved a $1.3 million contract for South Side sculptor Theaster Gates to create two art pieces for the 95th Street Red Line station, which will undergo overhaul starting next year.

The money will go to design, fabrication and installation of the works ($1 million), community outreach including public meetings ($50,000) and artist's fee ($250,000). The CTA has billed the Gates contract as its largest public art project to date.

Meanwhile, the deadline is Thursday for artists to bid to create works for eight South Side stations currently closed for track improvements and the Wilson Red Line station, which will be reconstructed starting this year in a $203 million project.

Also, on the North Side, artists were selected last month to create works at the seven Red Line stations closed for six weeks apiece last year for upgrades. Those pieces, expected to cost nearly $621,000, are slated to be installed by the end of the year.

The art is being paid for by federal funds separate from money used to upgrade track. So as the CTA works to identify funding to improve slow zones plaguing the North Side of the Red Line, riders will have more pretty things to look at as they wait for slow trains.

For his part, CTA President Forrest Claypool said Monday that artwork improves the rider experience.

"It's a total experience that makes the station more welcoming," Claypool said. "We all appreciate aesthetics. We all want to be in beautiful surroundings."

'Mak it happen

The CTA board on Monday voted to name the upcoming Green Line stop off Cermak Road the Cermak-McCormick Place stop. Construction is expected to begin this year on the station, which will be between the Roosevelt and 35th-Bronzeville-IIT stops. The Chicago Department of Transportation, which is handling the project, said it does not have a groundbreaking date. When Mayor Emanuel announced the project last year, construction was supposed to begin in February 2013.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Division Blue Line

Good news, riders of this Wicker Park stop: The station will be part of the first phase of the Ashland Avenue bus-rapid transit project, an express bus line between the Metra Clybourn station and the Ashland Orange Line stop that may begin in 2016. Bad news, riders of the Division stop: This stop is not expected to see upgrades as part of the express bus project.

The station has benefited from visits from the CTA's station renewal crew, which has delivered coats of paint, better lighting and a power wash, but it's still dingy and not accessible for riders with disabilities or riders with heavy luggage heading to/from O'Hare. The other two CTA rail stations in the first phase of the express bus project, the Ashland Green/Pink and Orange Line stops, are both accessible for riders with disabilities. Increasing this station's accessibility may attract more riders to the express bus line.

Next up: Conservatory-Central Park Drive Green Line

tswartz@tribune.com

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