The art world has found a most unusual place to exhibit metal sculptures – the Pelham Bay IRT line.
On Sunday, October 26, an inauguration of a permanent art panel installation inside the rehabilitated Middletown Road #6 IRT station was held for the public.
Sculptural stainless steel works, titled ‘Cross-Bronx Waterway,’ are housed within the station’s northbound platform and can also be viewed from the street.
They depict the elevated line’s daily odyssey as it navigates under the Harlem River and over the Bronx River, Westchester Creek, the Hutchinson River and the Pelham Bay watersheds.
Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi, SLO Architecture co-founders and principals, were commissioned by MTA Arts & Design to design the project as part of the NYC Transit Rehabilitation Program.
Fabricated by AMI-Metal Industries, the durably beautiful pieces incorporate gossamer metal ribbon work, conveying the distinct vision of water rippling on the surface of the borough’s rivers.
Viewing them inside the station conveys a sense of being underwater, especially the sailboat piece whose underbelly is displayed to commuters.
Viewing this same piece from the street reveals the sailboat skimming across the water’s surface.
The Bronx Waterways are home to a multitude of wildlife such as blue crabs and herons, but suffer from pollution as illustrated in Levi and Schachter’s work.
“This artwork reminds us all that the Bronx isn’t the way people usually believe it is,” expressed Arlene Grauer, retired from NYC Transit. “It reminds us that there is life beyond brick and mortar. It’s like getting a free art show while you’re taking the train.”
According to Lydia Bradshaw, MTA Arts & Design manager, over 120 artists submitted their works to be considered for the refurbished Bronx station.
‘Cross-Bronx Waterway’ was selected from a list of several finalists in November 2012 and construction of the pieces began the following year.
Schachter and Levi were chosen based upon their proposals for the Bronx location and of the #6 Line which resides there. Currently, only five of the eight panels are installed, but the balance are expected to be placed before year’s end.
Completed in segments, each stands at six and a half feet high and five feet wide. A plaque honoring the artists will be placed at the station when all are completed.
“It’s fantastic,” expressed Bradshaw. “It’s an amazing fabrication and it is very unique because it was made for the #6 line. It’s a really amazing project because people can view the details up close and can see objects in the waves, it’s fascinating. This is something for the people that use that station everyday.”
“We were pleased with the inauguration’s turnout,” said Schachter. “The works make people aware of this beautiful ecology that’s all around them because these rivers connect the Bronx and the #6 train actually ties them both together. around them.”
“It was a really fun creating the pieces and the work itself has very strong Bronx ties that not many see,” expressed Levi. “The #6 train station is almost a steel waterway itself because when you ride it, it almost flows up and down like a river. It’s like a landmark running through the borough.”