Tag Archives: subway

On the art at Toronto’s Union Station and the people who don’t like it


According to BlogTO, there’s some chatter over on…

…a recent Reddit thread that has amassed hundreds of comments, one user wrote, “Union Station has the most depressing, unsettling art. No part of it sparks joy. Will they ever change this?”

I understand why would you would think the work is bad if you think it is trying to spark joy or some positive feeling. If you think that, I’d like to give you a different viewpoint.

My view of the work changed when I started thinking about it in comparison to what I typically see in the subway. What I typically see is…advertising. This work is everything ads are not. Ads promise a better life: this work shows life as it is. Ads are often unrealistic: this work is grounded. Ads are often polished and simple images: this work is rough and complex. To me it is refreshing to see this art in comparison to the overwhelming commercial imagery everywhere else in transit.

Art can spark joy, but it can do much more than that. This work, called Zones of Immersion by Stuart Reid,  may seem depressing to some people. For me it causes reflection and it gives me some perspective of my time underground. And because of that, I think it’s great. I look forward to see it when I’m at Union Station. I hope someday more people feel that way.

On the new subway mosaics by Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith (and other works by fine artists)

Over at the New York Times they have a write up on the Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith’s Grand Central Madison Mosaics. They look fantastic. Very few art installations can achieve the viewing that those in subways achieve. It’s important to have really great work there, and in this case, I think the work is great. But see for yourself: check out that Times article. Better still, go to the subway in person.

Speaking of mosaics, this piece on how  Chicago artist Jim Bachor fills potholes with mosaics is great.

Also great:  Sheree Hovsepian’s Poetic Assemblages now showing at Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Why not take a look at the  Household Surrealism art by Helga Stentzel?

Tom Phillips died recently. I’m a fan of Austin Kleon and he was influenced by Tom. I can see why. For more, see Tom Phillips obituary  in The Guardian. Also this  Tom Phillips – Works and Tom Phillips – A Humument.

Finally, two extremes: this, At Art Basel Miami Beach the ATM is the new banana, vs this which is “an exhibition in Berlin shines a light on class, showing how social and financial inequality affect how art gets made, sold and displayed”. I was moved by the latter.

(Images: links to the Times story on the subway art installations)

The locked away beauty of the City Hall subway station in New York

The site Hyperallegic has a great piece on the abandoned City Hall subway station in NYC that is worth visiting. Beautiful stuff.

While no longer in use, there seems to be a chance you can tour the station from time to time. Read the piece, then make your plans to see the actual station.

(Images linked to from the piece. Many more great images in the piece you’ll want to see).