CTA Adds Two New, Vibrant Works of Art to its Immersive Collection of Public Art

September 2, 2020

New artwork at the Montrose Blue Line, Diversey Brown Line stations represent aspects of Chicago’s cultural significance, history and character

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced the addition of two new, captivating works of art recently installed at the Montrose Blue Line and Diversey Brown Line rail stations as part of its ongoing commitment to feature public art across CTA bus and rail facilities throughout the City of Chicago.

CTA’s collection of public art has nearly doubled over the last decade to include more than 70 permanent works of art across all eight rail lines and multiple bus facilities. This dynamic and immersive collection of public art includes mosaics, art glass, sculptures and interactive installations created by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, many of whom are local.

“These new installations add to the vibrancy and intrigue of CTA’s distinguished and growing public art program,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Not only do these two pieces add beauty to their respective stations and the communities they serve, they also highlight both historic moments and elements of our local culture that would otherwise be forgotten or remain unknown.“

Montrose Blue Line

Artwork commissioned for the Montrose Blue Line station known as "Windy City Odyssey" features toys, trophies and pieces of Americana representing Chicago's cultural significance, history and character.

Inspired by the world of colorful toys and vintage Americana, Chicago-based artist Chris Cosnowski was selected by CTA to create a unique piece of artwork for the Montrose Blue Line station, which is now featured on the North end of the stationhouse.

The artwork, known as Windy City Odyssey,  is a series of art glass panels depicting various toys and trophies representing different aspects of Chicago’s cultural significance, history and character. The bodybuilder trophy, for example, recalls Chicago’s nickname as “The City of Big Shoulders”, while the toy cow represents Mrs. O'Leary's cow and The Great Chicago Fire. The artist uses the symbol of the penny to illustrate Illinois’ greatest political figure and a red-and-white tugboat to signify our hard-working city located on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Diversey Brown Line

Street level view of the Diversey Brown Line art work known as "Ordinary Relic" that features four different elements, including the replica ticket booth and yellow painted infrastructure, as shown.

Intended to inspire the daily act of seeing and holding history in the collective memory, Ordinary Relic is a unique, conceptual art installation that uses the bright and bold elemental colors of yellow and blue to draw attention to key elements of the art installation, which are featured throughout the facility.

Key elements of the installation include the repainting of the existing elevated structure spanning Diversey Parkway using a bright yellow paint. Along both platforms are six message panels with the words “MEMORY” and “HISTORY” that lead toward the north stairway of the auxiliary exit. Situated outside the auxiliary exit (at ground-level) is a bright yellow and blue sculptural replica of the vintage ticket agent’s booth from the adjacent historic stationhouse. Embossed in the pedestal of the sculpture are 10 dates of local historic significance.

Created by Chicago artist Mathew Wilson, it is his hope that the various art pieces throughout the Diversey station will inspire travelers to celebrate the forgotten history of the city and recognize the importance of the past in creating Chicago’s contemporary cultural landscape.

CTA issued a Call for Artists in December 2015 for the Diversey project and in January 2017 for the Montrose project. Both sought out local, national and international artists to submit their qualifications and portfolios for consideration. Chosen from a competitive field of several dozen artists, both Mr. Cosnowski and Mr. Wilson were selected by an evaluation committee based on their artistic merit, qualifications, professional recognition and their written statements of interest. The collective value of the two installations is $200,000 and was paid for using Federal Transit Enhancement funds provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

For more details on these new installations, visit transitchicago.com/art.

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About the Artists

Chris Cosnowski (b. 1968, Charleston, SC), artist, is a modern Chicago painter who paints Americana in a realistic style, producing paintings that are at once lifelike in detail and humorous in concept.

Cosnowski, a fine artist and painter, has been a member of the American Academy of Art faculty since 2003. He currently teaches figure drawing and painting.

He holds an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from Northwestern University and a B.F.A. in Illustration from the Columbus College of Art and Design.

Mathew Wilson (b. 1967, England) is a Chicago-based artist, graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and member of Industry of the Ordinary, a two-person conceptual art collaborative (with Adam Brooks) known for performances and interventions, often incorporating audience participation.

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