Explore the Expo Line as rolling public art tour

A Downtown Santa Monica Station mosaic depicts a woman in search of adventure. Photo by Ted Soqui.

A Downtown Santa Monica Station mosaic depicts a woman in search of adventure. Photo by Ted Soqui.

If you plan to ride to work on Expo, your commute just got a little artsier.

Take a look up at the gateway panels overhead and you’ll see splashes of color, sparkles of glass, the shine of metal. From mosaics capturing community life to whimsical landscapes of faraway lands, each station shows a slice of L.A. life and a bit of each artist’s personality.

Last Friday, The Argonaut got a sneak peek at Expo’s four most westerly stations. When you ride, stop to take a look.

— Christina Campodonico

For “And Here I Will Stay,” Angolan artist Nzuji de Magalhães looked to the neighborhood surrounding the Expo/Bundy Station for inspiration. A blue sash that looks almost like a blue-rimmed film strip runs through eight glass relief mosaic and hand-painted ceramic tile panels, showing faces, homes, streets and flowers of the community. “The sash is almost like a patchwork of fabric from multiple cultures that have lived in this area over time and live here now,” said Zipporah Lax Yamato, who project-managed bringing the artist’s work to Expo.

26th Street / Bergamot
To create the images on 24 porcelain enamel steel panels for “Local Color” at 26th Street/Bergamot Station, artist Constance Mallinson walked around Santa Monica, taking pictures of the sights and objects she encountered.  She superimposed and layered those images, creating explosive collages of bottle caps, rubber duckies, hacky sacks, tennis balls and beads on the beach, flowers pouring over each other and neon signs glowing one on top of the other.

17th Street / Santa Monica College
For the 17th Street/ SMC Station, artist Carmen Argote collected clothes from friends, family and non-profit organizations to create “What You Wore, What You Wear” — 12 photographic porcelain enamel steel panels showing outfits and garbs from all walks of life. Argote set up a 21-foot long rack in her studio to shoot the hanging clothes and organized them into color piles on the floor, like a giant fabric artist’s palette. She was interested by “the rhythms of the commute” — squeezing into a crowded car, or waiting for the next train to arrive —but ultimately Argote found inspiration in your everyday commuter. “The clothes represent us,” she said. “The people who use the train.”

Downtown Santa Monica
Raised by a railroad worker, artist Judithe Hernandez knows what it’s like to grow up around trains. “I knew what trains were like and I wanted to capture that moment where people can sit on a train and contemplate … to be like children again, to take reality and put it into a magical space,” said Hernandez when we arrived at the Downtown Santa Monica Station. Her 24 glass mosaics, collectively titled “L.A. Sonata,” do just that. Masked cats made-up for Carnival lounge by a Venetian bridge in a tribute to the floating city, a Viking woman goes off with her horse in search of adventure, and a Roman goddess holds court with Koi fish. Like Hernandez’s artwork, a ride from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica is no longer a dream but reality.

Explore the stations on your own or organize a group of 15 or more for a free docent-led art tour by Metro. Call (213)922-2738 or visit metro.net/about/art/art-tours/.