Artists are playing a role in the development of the next light rail extension along Central Avenue in south Phoenix. The use of public art is incorporated along the extension station designs to create a special place that connects to community and culture.
The art offers unique visuals and special colors that establish a cultural identity for each of the light rail stations. The architecture of Valley Metro light rail stations follows a group of repeating elements, from using green screens for growing vines at stations. The vines and the screens provide more shade and introduce an element of plant life. Louvers provide vertical shading to the two different canopy types. Artwork that is influenced and directed by members of the community makes each of the stations and facilities unique.
M.B. Finnerty, Valley Metro’s Public Art Administrator, said Valley Metro follows a very inclusive public process, creating Stakeholder Art Review Committees for each station or facility. “Community members participate in the selection and design review of each of the artists,” Finnerty said. “We have a nationwide call to artists where we ask applicants to send in images of their past works.”
The Stakeholder Art Review Committees reviews the submittals and selects the artists who they feel will be able to create artwork that reflects their community.
Selected artists meet with the public to talk about the area’s history and values. As the artists meet with stakeholders, they develop their designs showing their progress to the public and the Regional Rail Arts Committee. The rail arts committee consists of artists and art professionals selected by Valley Metro partner cities. They act as an art oversight board or arts commission.
Before the artists share their designs with the public, it is reviewed by Valley Metro staff representing safety and security, operations, maintenance, engineering, and others who help determine whether the artwork will have negative impacts in any of these areas.
Phoenix artist Hugo Medina is working on art for the Southern Avenue station. He's crafting art with school children in mind. Medina said the tradition of children walking to and from school reminded him of groups of butterflies and reinforced the idea of a butterfly garden. The area also lies in the path of migrating butterflies. Medina said it led to the idea of migrants and the role they played in Phoenix and areas of south Central Phoenix. Butterfly art made of metal and colored acrylic will be placed above the canopy line.
Phoenix-based artists Martin Moreno and Emily Costello are working as a team on the Roeser Road station.
Their work includes railing and shade screens. They are also creating large luminarias that will light up at night. Their theme is Races or Roots of the Community. They will also be leading tile workshops with the community, allowing people to paint some of the tiles that will appear on the station.
The South Central Extension/Downtown Hub runs five miles from downtown Phoenix to Central Avenue and Baseline Road. The planned opening is 2024.