MTA Arts & Design in the Second Avenue Subway

 

 

Vik Muniz on view at 72nd Street Second Avenue Subway

In 2017, the Second Avenue Subway opened Phase 1 and  unveiled artwork in four subway stations. They are located at 96th Street, 86th Street, 72nd Street, and a new entrance to the existing station at Lexington Avenue at 63rd Street. MTA Arts & Design commissioned four artists for this ambitious project. Phase 1 is served by the Q train, with limited rush-hour N and R trains. Take a ride with us on the Q train, beginning on 63rd Street, heading north.

The East 86th Street Second Avenue Subway

 

East 63rd Street, artist Jean Shin

Artist, Jean Shin for 63rd Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Jean Shin: Elevated is located at the East 63rd Street Second Avenue Subway Station. Her work was inspired by what was simultaneously lost and gained by the momentous dismantling of the Second Ave El in the 1940s. Here, she connects it to the present-day Second Avenue Subway.

Artist, Jean Shin for 63rd Street Second Avenue Subway Station

For this commission, Shin used images of the El structures taken from archival photographs and re-imagined them in a contemporary context, using ceramic, mosaic and glass.

The artist, Jean Shin at 63rd Street Second Avenue Subway Station

The entrance level ceramic fabrication was done by Frank Giorgini, NY; Mezzanine level glass mosaic fabricated by Miotto Studios NY; and the platform levels, laminated glass fabricated by Tom Patti Design, MA.

The artist, Jean Shin at 63rd Street Second Avenue Subway Station

More work by the artist can be found at ~ Jean Shin: Floating Maize and Jean Shin: The Last Straw on view at Brookfield Place through September 18, 2020.

 

East 72nd Street, artist Vik Muniz

Artist, Vik Muniz at 72 Street Second Avenue Subway

Vik Muniz: Perfect Strangers is located at the East 72nd Street Second Avenue Subway Station. For this commission, Muniz photographed more than three dozen ‘characters’ who represent “unique and quirky kinds of people one encounters on the subway.’ The photographs were recreated in mosaic and installed throughout the mezzanine and entrance areas.

Artist, Vik Muniz at 72nd Street

The Second Avenue Subway commission is a departure from the artist’s typical work. Muniz is known to work with unconventional materials like….tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust…..and with this, he references old master’s paintings and celebrity portraits. He was featured in the 2010 documentary film, Waste Land, with the film highlighting Muniz’s work on one of the world’s largest garbage dumps in Rio de Janeiro.

Artist, Vik Muniz at 72nd Street

Vik Muniz: Perfect Strangers creates for this commission the very people who ride this subway system every day. Vik Muniz is a Brazilian-born artist based in New York City and Rio de Janeiro.

 

East 86th Street, artist, Chuck Close

Self portrait of the artist, Chuck Close at 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Chuck Close: Subway Portraits is located at the East 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station. Here, the artist portrays cultural figures often used by the artist as subjects ~ Philip Glass, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, Cecily Brown, Cindy Sherman, Lou Reed ~ and a stunning self-portrait.

Kara Walker by Artist, Chuck Close at the East 86th Street, Second Avenue Subway Station

Working from gridded photographs, Close builds his images by applying one careful stroke after another in multi-colors or grayscale, creating larger-than-life works. An interesting fact is that Close suffers from Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, in which he is unable to recognize faces. By painting portraits, he is better able to recognize and remember faces.

Closeup of the glass mosaic created by the fabricator of the work of Chuck Close in this self-portrait for the 86th Street Second Avenue Subway

Several documentary’s have been made on the artist, including Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress, 1998, PBS and Chuck Close: Eye To Eye: ART/new york No. 48 by his classmate at Yale, Paul Tschinkel. British art critic Christopher Finch wrote the biography, Chuck Close: Life, published in 2010.

Philip Glass by Artist, Chuck Close at 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Did you know that Chuck Close was one of eight artists who volunteered in 2013 to participate in President Barack Obama’s Turnaround Arts Initiative? This program aimed to improve low-performing schools by increasing student engagement through the arts. Close mentored 34 students in the sixth through eighth grades at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Chuck Close lives and works in New York City and Eastern Long Island.

 

East 96th Street, artist Sarah Sze

Artist, Sarah Sze at 96th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Sarah Sze: Blueprint for a Landscape fills the East 96th Street Second Avenue Subway Station with over 4,300 unique porcelain wall tiles spanning approximately 14,000 square-feet.

Artist, Sarah Sze at 96th Street Second Avenue Subway

Her designs feature everyday objects – sheets of paper blowing in the wind, scaffolding, birds, trees, foliage, using a blueprint-style vector line design.

Artist, Sarah Sze at 96th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Sarah Sze was also recently recognized as one of the artists commissioned by The Public Art Fund to create work for the Arrivals and Departures Hall of LaGuardia Airport, Terminal B ~ unveiled in June, 2020 ~ and Frieze New York 2019 on the Rock Center Plaza.

Artist Sarah Sze for 96th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

The artist is a resident of New York City and a professor of visual arts at Columbia University.

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Now that Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway is complete, the Second Avenue Subway will enter Phase 2, opening a community information center located at 69 East 125th Street in East Harlem.

Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center on East 125th Street in East Harlem

Visitors to the community information center can map the future extension from 125th Street all the way to Coney Island, and view videos showing how the subway is being built.

Phase 3 will extend the line south from 72nd Street to Houston Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When complete, a new T train will serve the entire line from Harlem to Houston Street. Phase 4 will again extend the line south from Houston Street to Hanover Square, at which point the T would provide service to the entire line.

Inside the Second Avenue Subway, Phase 2 Community Info Center located at 69 East 125th Street

Located a half-block away from Metro North on Park Avenue and 125th Street and the historic Corn Exchange Bank Building.

Take a look at East 125th Street, a work in progress.

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