December 4, 2004

Public Art Program Places Artwork at Newly Rehabilitated Blue Line Stations

Mayor Richard M. Daley was joined by Chicago Transit Authority officials today at the CTA's Damen station on the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line to dedicate a new glass mosaic by local artist Juan Chavez. The event lauded the addition of new public art, as well as additional rail service on the branch which will begin on January 1.

?These art enhancements are helping foster a sense of ownership and identity within their surrounding neighborhoods, and I would like to thank Juan Chavez for sharing his talents with the residents of Pilsen," said Mayor Daley.

"This mosaic captures the pulse and vibrant cultures found in the communities along the Cermak branch of the Blue Line," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "The new art at these stations adds to the overall appearance of the stations and promotes a friendly, inviting atmosphere."

?The Cermak branch rehabilitation project is one of the most important capital improvement projects undertaken by the CTA to bring its infrastructure to a state of good repair," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?We are grateful to the region's U.S. Congressional delegation, which has been very successful in securing capital funds to continue investment in CTA's infrastructure."

The mosaic was made possible through a partnership between the CTA and the City of Chicago's Public Art Program and is one of nine new pieces of art installed at stations along the branch. Juan Chavez' glass mosaic consists of acollage that depicts everyday scenes and images that can be observed in the Pilsen neighborhood near the Damen station. The 25' x 9' piece is located outside the Damen station house near the entrance.

"My idea was to design an honest depiction of the area surrounding the train station through the thoughts of the people," Chavez stated. ?I felt the station needed a mosaic that reflects the cultural, communal and individual identity of the neighborhood, and at the same time, maintains the integrity of the architectural aesthetics of the building."

The fully rebuilt line provides CTA the opportunity to work with the community to encourage more people to ride. To that end, beginning January 1, CTA will be adding service on weekends and operating for longer periods during the week.

Service will run every 15 minutes on Saturday from 4 a.m. until 1 a.m., and every 20 minutes on Sunday from 4 a.m. until 1 a.m. And on weekdays, service hours will be extended until 1 a.m. instead of 12:45 a.m. In order to achieve the additional service for Cermak branch customers, the CTA will alternate trains between the Forest Park branch and the Cermak branch. The schedule on the Forest Park branch will be adjusted to accommodate less frequent service during those hours.

In 2003, the CTA entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs to procure original artwork for the eight newly renovated stations along branch. The CTA allocated $1 million of the $483 million project budget. A panel consisting of city, CTA, art and community representatives served as advisors over the past year to select the appropriate artwork for each station.

All eight rehabilitated stations (Kostner, Damen, California, Kedzie, Central Park, Pulaski, 54th/Cermak and Western) included public art as part of this project. With the exception of the Western station where the art installation will be completed later this month, all or the artwork planned for the project is in place.

The $483 million reconstruction of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line began in 2001 and is nearing completion. The project has involved the reconstruction of eight stations and replacement of the 100-year old deteriorating track and support structure.

Without the capital investment made in the Blue Line, as well as in other areas of the CTA's infrastructure, the system would fall into a state of disrepair and jeopardize the vital components that make public transportation safe, reliable and convenient.

In 2002, Chavez, along with artist Corrine Peterson of the Chicago Public Art Group, created the "Hopes and Dreams" mosaic located in the underground transfer tunnel between the CTA's State/Roosevelt Red Line subway and the Green/Orange Line elevated station.

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