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Discover Word-Centric Art Via LA’s Metro Green Line

Discover Word-Centric Art Via LA’s Metro Green Line

Picture of C. Marie Cradle
Updated: 24 April 2017
Traveling via the Metro in Los Angeles can be mundane. There is little fascination to be had on board the bus and light rail, aside from occasional banter and hijinks from riders. However, for commuters intrigued by visual art, the Metro provides plenty to see. Particularly at three Metro Green Line rail stations, commissioned artwork featuring word-centric art has aroused local curiosity and chatter. We find out more.
'Crenshaw Stories' by Buzz Spector | C. Marie Cradle
‘Crenshaw Stories’ by Buzz Spector | © C. Marie Cradle

Crenshaw | I-105 Station (Hawthorne)

One of the busiest Green Line stations, Crenshaw, features an art piece worthy of an hour’s visit. On the ground level of the station, where passengers catch Metro and inter-community buses, is the mosaic marvel, Crenshaw Stories (1995) by Buzz Spector.

Weary travelers at Crenshaw find their minds and souls awakened after taking a moment to read hand-painted passages on the colorful tiled mural. Stories are displayed high and low on the wall like fabric squares on a quilt. Some of the writings on the wall are banal monologues, others comical blurbs, heartbreaking verses, uplifting quotations and stirring poems. Nearby benches that resemble open books add to the visual appreciation.

Spector’s intention to be culturally inclusive in his piece shines through. The stories are presented from several ethnic points of views – and in 72 of L.A.’s frequently spoken languages. Aesthetically pleasing the eye, at least from a westerner’s perspective, are passages etched from non-Roman based alphabet languages, including Cambodian and Russian.

Ralph Ellison's Words at Aviation Station | C. Marie Cradle
Ralph Ellison’s Words Aviation Station | © C. Marie Cradle

Aviation | LAX Station (Westchester)

About 3 miles from the bustle of LAX airport is Aviation Station. At this stop, travelers can reflect on famous, enthralling words from two of the most important literary figures in 20th century America: Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. On the station’s upper deck, artist Richard Turner presents their words in separate red-framed glass parallelograms, which resemble ‘50s era television boxes. Hughes’ renowned poem ‘A Dream Deferred’ is written in its entirety, while the simple yet powerful line from Ellison’s novel, ‘I am the invisible man’, is capsuled.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Turner showcased ‘A Dream Deferred’ and ‘Invisible Man’ for the Aviation Station project, ‘Untitled’ (1995) – the Metro project pays homage to the ‘50s, and both Hughes and Ellison’s premier works were published early in that decade.

Renée Petropoulos' ‘Untitled’ at Douglas Station | C. Marie Cradle
Renée Petropoulos’ ‘Untitled’ at Douglas Station | © C. Marie Cradle

Douglas Station (El Segundo)

Logophiles rejoice – industrial-inspired Douglas Station in greater Los Angeles’ South Bay will have you in rapture. Renée Petropoulos’ ‘Untitled’ (1995) is a showcase of words – arguably at their most galvanizing – along the Green Line. Huge ‘mirror image’ white letters painted on black spell out conjugations of the verb ‘to be’ in various languages. For example, ‘Nosotros estamos’ (‘We are’ in Spanish).

The other principal word-centric feature at Douglas is the set of stairways. Each gray cement step, engraved with words or sentences, are improbably fascinating. When the words are taken together, each stairway tells a kind of fragmented story — or is it just a stream of consciousness? Station viewers can decide for themselves.

Douglas Station, 700 S. Douglas St, El Segundo, CA, USA, +1 800-366-6883


By C. Marie Cradle