Subway Station Art: The 1 Train’s 86th Street Station

I write about art in New York City subway stations fairly regularly; the art at the 1 train’s 86th Street station should be on the list of places to visit if you have an interest in public art in subway stations. Once you arrive on the station’s platforms, you will discover a series of 40 ceramic glazed tiles, each with an image of life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Titled Westside Views, the project was a collaboration between artist Nitza Tufiño and 17 young people, mostly from the Grosvenor Community House educational programs in the neighborhood.

The project was very successful. Here is what Nitza Tufiño had to say about it: “As an artist, if I take my brushes and my skills and I invest in the lives of young people, then others can see what is possible … I believe human beings can do anything, if we find something that would positively influence them.”

Here are some examples of the Westside Views artwork.

So what is your favorite? I have several. The clown made me laugh (although I find clowns a bit creepy). I love the dads pushing their kids in strollers, as well as the last one with the hot dog stand.

Subway Station Art: 66th Street-Lincoln Center Station

One of my favorite subway stations in Manhattan is the 66th Street-Lincoln Center Station because of the beautiful glass tile mosaics spanning the walls along the train platform. Created by long-time New York City resident and artist Nancy Spero, the installation is titled Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers. Visitors can clearly see how the nearby Lincoln Center for the Arts inspired Spero’s art.

Here’s the description of the installation, originally found on MTA Arts & Design’s website:

This series of 22 brilliantly colored glass mosaic panels lines the walls of the station and bows to Lincoln Center’s opera, ballet, and classical music halls – and the vibrant, artistic character of the Upper West Side neighborhood. Spero conveys this through the use of iconic images of women both real and mythical, from such varied sources as archaeology, architecture, mythology and the contemporary world.

In Artemis, Acrobats, Divas, and Dancers, the central icon of opera, the Diva, is repeated in various forms that lead and follow riders through the station, giving the illusion of movement and change. Elsewhere, Spero represents scenes from the subway and the city outside, the architectural backgrounds enlivened by musicians performing and athletes running, signaling you are in a creative and energetic place, the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Here are some of my favorite images from the Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers installation. (There are numerous more images as well, which you can discover yourself if you visit the station!) As you can see below, the diversity of images and artistic styles makes this subway station art delightful.

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If you wish to see this subway art for yourself, take the 1 train to 66th Street-Lincoln Center Station on the Upper West Side. The mosaics are different on each platform, so make sure you check out both sides!

Rooftop Views from the Met Museum

Many visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art don’t realize that there’s a hidden gem on the roof of the museum – the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The Roof Garden is open from May through October each year, and there is a special rooftop exhibition each season. This year’s exhibition is a single, large sculpture by British artist Cornelia Parker titled Transitional Object (PsychoBarn).

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The sculpture reminded me of a haunted house, which made a lot of sense once I read the museum’s description of it:

“A large-scale sculpture by acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho—comprises the fourth annual installation of site-specific works commissioned for The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.

Nearly 30 feet high, the sculpture is fabricated from a deconstructed red barn and seems at first to be a genuine house, but is in fact a scaled-down structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) evokes the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces.”

When I turned around and looked the other direction, I captured this reflection of the sculpture in the museum’s windows.

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Beyond the sculpture, the Roof Garden offers some amazing views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. If you look northwest across Central Park, you can capture a glimpse of the Eldorado’s double towers. The Eldorado, with its art deco architectural details, was constructed as a luxury apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Some of the Eldorado’s residents over the years have included author Sinclair Lewis; actors Alec Baldwin, Faye Dunaway, and Michael J. Fox; radio personality Garrison Keillor; and musician Moby.

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The lush green of Central Park is even more evident as you look south from the roof, and you will have even more city skyline views. (It was a bit hazy when I took this photo, but still beautiful views.)

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And then to the southeast there are the luxury apartment buildings that line Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.

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The rooftop is open in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays (until 8:00 pm), like the rest of the museum (although the rest of the museum is open until 9:00 pm on those days). On those evenings, the Roof Garden even offers a bar where visitors can purchase a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

As a reminder, the best way to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is by public transportation. If traveling by subway, take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street, and then walk west to Fifth Avenue. You can also reach the museum by bus on the M1, M2, M3, or M4 routes. If taking one of these routes going north, you will travel up Madison Avenue to the 83rd Street stop. If coming from points further north, take one of these bus routes south along Fifth Avenue to the 82nd Street stop, right next to the museum.