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October 22, 2011

MTA Arts for Transit Commission!

105th Beach Station in the Rockaways, is being transformed. Callie Art is moving in, after a three-year planning period. The station attendant today seemed quite happy with the new art.

I still remember the day I got the call telling me that I won the commission. They had brought in about 15 artists to present our work for five stations in the Rockaways. I had heard about the open call for art from the Rockaway Artist Alliance, which I have been a member over the years. My love for the sea brought me out to Fort Tilden initially. My friend wanted a car sticker to park there, so agreed to bring me to meetings. I was living in the city at that time, so it was quite a hike, but well worth it.

Fort Tilden is a quiet place, with a lot going on. They have a small theatre, fields for rugby and baseball, a garden, an art gallery and studio space. I digress, this story is about the commission, and so I will get back on track here! So a bunch of us were chosen out of hundreds of entries and we brought in design boards with our station concepts and the process was explained to us. Artists were chosen by neighborhood boards and the MTA. My work reflected the ocean and the creatures residing there. So I guess it was a good fit! It meant so much to me to taken on such a serious level as an artist. My day job manager has been trying to convince me that "IT" is my profession, that art was a hobby. I am trying very hard to prove her wrong. Many famous artists supported themselves and families for years by being insurance agents, accountants and other everyday professions until they made it, or died. I hope to support myself as an artist for at least a few years before leaving this world.

Back to the commission. After being given your station address and a huge contract to abide by, you have to choose a fabricator. I choose one that had done another station that I was impressed with. The MTA also decides the material in which your art will be created in for the station. Mine was to be in faceted-glass and epoxy; I had never worked with glass before. My fabricator told me that my artwork translated very well into this medium. I am, of course, thrilled.

So three final designs are sent to the fabricator who then translates them into "cartoons". He sends the life size cartoons to us (the MTA and me) for approval. We mark them up and send them back. Then I make the big trip, down to Baton Rouge to look at glass samples. Part of your payment from the MTA is used for this trip. I meet Erskin, who is a lovely and talented man, and then his wife, who is entertaining as all heck! I see where the work is to be created, tell him that I want glass with impurities in it. I want to imagine seaweed, eggs, and seawater in the glass. The piece is titled Vast, and it contains three panels, Egg Masses, Jellyfish, and Creature. I am not very good with titles. I am not afraid of words, but would much rather paint then write.

That said, here I am writing a blog that is way too long by now. Have I still got your attention? If so, I shall continue. So Erskin creates the panels, but this is all done only with the OK from the MTA about each step taken. Three years later the station is done with it's renovation, the thing that makes this all happen in the first place, and the panels are ready for shipping. They arrive while I am on vacation. It is not until three weeks later that I finally get out to visit the install. Two out of the three panels are up. I am thrilled and finally get to do my photo shoot!

OK, it all comes down to my love of photography. In this instance I got to be part of the creation in what I was shooting. The panels are brilliantly vibrant and the light coming through is amazing. I am so excited that they turned out so well. When you give up total control of a creation, you never are quite sure what you are going to get. This was a great ending to a three-year venture in the realm of artist collaboration, working with the MTA and having people believe in my art so much that it will be there for the next 100 years, hopefully.

Next up, planning their coming out party. I found the perfect pub for everyone to gather at after seeing the work. So I am good to go! Thank you for listening to my journey. Callie